REVIEW - The STK Experience at Disney Springs

Waaaaay back in March, we made our way to Disney Springs for our first experience at STK Orlando. As we walked through the doors of the mammoth brick building, we didn't quite realize what a pivotal night that would be, or that we'd be walking back out that night to a rather different world. As we were dining that evening, the official announcement was made that the Walt Disney World theme parks would be temporarily shutting down in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the closure was not entirely unprecedented, it was certainly a rare action, and for those of us who live in the Orlando-area, it's quite possibly the most startling thing that can be declared! This was the single most significant step toward making this virus "real" for Central Florida residents, and frankly - it did manage to change the tone of our visit, but not necessarily in the way you may expect.

Yes, the mood felt a bit more somber as we sat there processing it all and taking notice of the looks on other diners' faces that betrayed the same enlightenment... but the news also served to create a nice, friendly tone and a chance to really observe the staff in an unusual moment. (And by the way, even in light of the jarring news - they remained upbeat and on-point. Kudos!) Truth be told, I always leave a Disney Springs dining experience beyond satisfied with the service. This is not unique to any one establishment - there is some serious hospitality talent throughout the whole complex. STK Orlando kept that streak going with Bradley! There's a true difference between doing a job and living your passion, and Bradley definitely loves the culinary arts. It was a genuine pleasure to spend some time getting to know this talented young man from the Florida Keys, and his knowledge was just the special touch I needed - as someone who frankly knows shockingly little about seafood. We were left in Bradley's very capable hands for the evening, and he introduced us to a fabulous spread. Let's take a closer look at his selections! (Click on any image for full-size.)

Our appetizers really covered the gamut! 
  • Pull-apart sourdough bread housed in a deep cast iron pan, topped with bleu butter, and served with chimichurri oil. 
  • Crispy Octopus with buffalo wine glaze, kimchi spice, and pickled cucumber.
  • Bone Marrow Wagyu Meatballs with cheddar cheese, capers, pickled red onions, fresno pepper, and croutons
Let me reiterate that my experience with any sort of seafood is limited, and octopus was entirely new to me. Frankly, I couldn't bring myself to try it, but Gino did. We were both strangely dazzled by the pickled cucumber! The bread was superb, and it was hard to avoid filling up on it, but the meatballs made for a fantastic distraction. I could eat those ALL. DAY. LONG! Easily the most tender meat I've ever had, and such a brilliant combination of flavor!

The sides were jazzed up versions of staples that were cooked just right. I rarely find a reason to get too excited over green beans and potatoes, but these were fabulous. Absolutely impeccably prepared, fresh sautéed green beans with garlic and Yukon Gold mashed potatoes with a caramelized parmesan truffle crust... Standard side items that have just the right "wow factor", and a brilliant accompaniment to some delicious mains!

STK's answer to the vegetarian foodie, the Mushroom and Truffle Tagliatelle features braised mushrooms, king oyster mushrooms, baby spinach, shaved black truffle, and pecorino. Such an intensely flavorful dish that really goes a long way! Hands-down, the 8 oz. wagyu flat iron was my very favorite. I'm a beef lover at heart, and this was such a flawless serving of meat. 

The seafood entrees we tried were the Steamed Chilean Sea Bass with wild mushrooms, bok choy, ginger chili, and cilantro relish with tamari sesame oil, and the Roasted Ora Bay Salmon with butternut squash, miso caramel, sweet soy, and edamame-mushroom relish. Both were very tasty, but entirely different. We both ultimately leaned more toward the salmon, but the combination of flavors adorning the seabass was exceptional.

Okay, let's be real... can you ever really go wrong with dessert? I don't think ya can, but you can absolutely go MORE right! Feast your eyes on a couple prime examples from STK. During the time that we were there, at least four other tables received the cake and cotton candy dish, so I'm assuming that this qualifies as a must-do item. I'd certainly say it ranks as necessary, but after seeing the full menu of selections, I can't say there's anything I'd turn away. 

As for the restaurant itself, I find it to be one of the more intriguing new additions to the Disney Springs dining collection. It helps that I am partial to brick buildings, but this is such a uniquely-conceived establishment. At approximately 14,000 square feet, the Orlando venue is one of the largest STK locations. The two-story restaurant features modern ambient lighting, and an in-house DJ in the sleek main dining room, an indoor lounge with a fire pit, and a more laid-back rooftop terrace with a spectacular view. In my humble opinion, it is worth multiple visits to experience this place from every angle.

Check out current menus and learn more about STK Orlando. Follow them on Facebook for the latest updates from the Disney Springs location.