Refreshing - Great Food at Disney's Wilderness Lodge

From bar snacks to fine dining, you'll find great food at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.

 At the waterside lounge Geyser Point Bar & Grill, a server holds two Huckleberry Punches. The spiked beverage is fruity and sweet; in fact, I couldn't taste the booze.

At the waterside lounge Geyser Point Bar & Grill, a server holds two Huckleberry Punches. The spiked beverage is fruity and sweet; in fact, I couldn't taste the booze.

I get wary of excess, living in Orlando, sometimes shrugging off entire theme park mega-complexes in favor of the little local-yokel restaurants and attractions that aren't so ... massive. After a culinary tour through Disney's Wilderness Lodge last night, I was reminded of why tens of millions of people visit our theme parks and their satellite hospitality offerings. In fact, you can find a culinary adventure that is downright magical.

 Shrimp on a Wire with miso-lime vinaigrette, togarashi, shishito peppers and chili aioli. Geyser Point

Shrimp on a Wire with miso-lime vinaigrette, togarashi, shishito peppers and chili aioli. Geyser Point

First of all, Disney's Wilderness Lodge is refreshing. It looks like a rustic getaway in the scenic U.S. Northwest, the kind of place with evergreen trees and crisp air. Family-style Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at the resort's Whispering Canyon Cafe fill up early because folks so crave a cold-weather ambiance on those holidays. You can even see a geyser spurt periodically, although of course this one is Imagineer-made.

 Hand-crafted charcuterie platter with prosciutto, duck rillette and lavosh. Geyser Point

Hand-crafted charcuterie platter with prosciutto, duck rillette and lavosh. Geyser Point

The hotel's chefs are a passionate lot, so they hosted area food writers for a four-restaurant food tour. Here's most of what we had. Some is splurgy, some modestly priced. All are in pleasant dining rooms that interpret the Wilderness Lodge theme in their own way.

 Pulled pork spring rolls with corn relish and miso sauce. Whispering Canyon Cafe

Pulled pork spring rolls with corn relish and miso sauce. Whispering Canyon Cafe

 Indian fry bread with apple ketchup, tomato jam and cilantro aioli. Whispering Canyon Cafe

Indian fry bread with apple ketchup, tomato jam and cilantro aioli. Whispering Canyon Cafe

Artist Point is dark, in a mood-setting kind of way. I guess should have ignored all that food-photo-expert advice and used my flash. Please forgive the rough images. Be sure to look at what we ate. Twenty years ago, all people talked about ordering at Artist Point -- was it buffalo steak? elk chop? something unusual. You can still go out of the typical American comfort zone with venison sausage, rabbit rillettes and wild boar saucisse (that seems to be a sausage), but our meals were light though deeply flavored -- a very fresh fish with loads of olives plus fennel and kale, and vegetarian pasta with a super-creamy ricotta filling.

 Wild halibut en papillote with tomato, olive chermoula, shaved potato, fennel, kale and olive oil. Artist Point

Wild halibut en papillote with tomato, olive chermoula, shaved potato, fennel, kale and olive oil. Artist Point

 Ricotta agnolotti (pasta) with petite eggplant, English peas, whey vinaigrette, ramps and mustard greens. Artist Point

Ricotta agnolotti (pasta) with petite eggplant, English peas, whey vinaigrette, ramps and mustard greens. Artist Point

I somehow didn't get photos of the Roaring Fork campfire cupcake, molasses crackle-top cookie or the chocolate mousse brownie. They were so good I just kept eating, even after this enormous meal, and then ate another cookie with lunch today. They were really, really delicious.

This is good stuff, these Disney's Wilderness Lodge restaurants. I'd make reservations today.