Blu Ribbon Cuisine

At deep blu seafood grille, chef Cory York’s creations immerse diners in unforgettable flavors.

There’s something about the thought of eating in a hotel restaurant that makes some people shudder. Maybe it’s memories of overpriced and overcooked buffet dinners, or the abomination that some clever marketer named the “Continental breakfast.’’ But the truth is, some of the best restaurants in the country are just a few steps from a hotel registration desk. NoMi at the Park Hyatt in Chicago, Clio in Boston’s Eliot Hotel, Café Boulud in the Surrey Hotel in New York, and our own Victoria & Albert’s at Disney World’s Grand Floridian, win well-earned praise. And in these tough economic times, who else has the bucks to keep a fabulous restaurant’s doors open?

Here’s hoping that the new Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort, Bonnet Creek (its full, official name) props wide the doors of deep blu seafood grille (its actual, uncapitalized title).

The hotel is the newest addition to Bonnet Creek, which sits on land adjacent to and accessed via roads on Disney property. Head west on Buena Vista Drive and hang a left at the Goofy bus sign.

The restaurant décor is supposed to suggest cool water and wooden boats. It is a relaxing place, and while quite large, attention is drawn out the many windows to the resort’s tranquil swimming pools. Service is very attentive and well-versed in the uniqueness of the very inventive menu guided by chef de cuisine Cory York. Born in small-town Mississippi, York worked for celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi in Hawaii, then returned to the mainland as executive chef of the Oceanaire Seafood Room in Charlotte, N.C., and chef de cuisine of Orlando’s Grand Bohemian Hotel.

York’s practiced hand developed many of the recipes and crafts every meal, and what crafting it is. You might think a side order of edamame risotto ($8) would be a simple thing, but add a subtle application of a soy, butter and orange reduction and a splash of rice wine vinegar to the rice, Asiago cheese and shiitake mushroom combination and it becomes a dish of such complex sensory delight that I took an order home just to have it again the next day.

York engages all the senses. Calamari fries ($12) combine the silky tenderness of perfectly fried flat slices of squid and the crunch of panko breading with a playful visual of French fries. It’s the cleverest and most original variation on this tired standard I’ve ever seen, and delicious besides. Take a pass on the dipping sauce and ask for lots of lemon for squeezing. The layers of flavor in tiger shrimp spätzle ($24) go from wild mushrooms as rich and savory as meat to sweet, firm chunks of orange squash to tiny twists of dumpling saturated in garlic, butter and more butter.

Fish is served according to your choice; grilled, blackened, broiled or baked on a cedar plank. I chose a grilled locally harvested day-boat flounder ($24), the moist white fleshed cross-hatched from the grill with a light smoky flavor. It goes great with the “blu” crab mac n’ cheese ($10), fusilli pasta thick with melted white cheddar and Munster cheese and big flakes of crab.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, signs will have been added on Chelonia Parkway that will point directly to the hotel, so that you won’t make a wrong turn, as I did, and start the evening in confusion. Nothing should distract you from this truly wonderful dining experience.


Even more choices

The very clever sushi chefs at deep blu offer a Tuna Poke Three Ways plate ($16): tuna rolls with a crunch of asparagus and tempura batter; a mound of Korean chili-spiced raw tuna with a savory hit of fish sauce; and a Thai curry-seasoned tuna roll served with lotus root chips that you’ll wish you had available to munch on for your next movie night.

Categories: Reviews