Tuesday, November 10, 2015

California Grill Review

One of my all-time favorite, anywhere-in-the-world restaurants is located in Walt Disney World.  It is located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort.  It is the California Grill.  If you want a delicious meal or are celebrating something special, this will always be my first recommendation.  The California Grill sits atop the Contemporary Resort and all most every seat has an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom park and/or the Magic Kingdom resort area.

View from California Grill's observation deck.

My most recent meal here was on a Friday night in September.  We had reservations at 7:20 that I was able to secure two days before.  We opted to drive there instead of using resort transportation.  It took us 8 minutes to travel from door-to-door of the Walt Disney World Dolphin to the Contemporary resort.  Upon arriving at the Contemporary Resort Gate, all we had to do was let the guard know about our reservation and show ID and we were told where to park. 

Restaurant's menu.
Restaurant's napkin.

In order to check in for your meal, you need to head to the 2nd floor of the hotel and follow the signs to the check-in desk.  Our entire party was present (most  Walt Disney World restaurants will not seat you until your entire party arrives) so we were given a pager an were allowed onto the elevator which would take us up to the 15th floor, directly to the restaurant.  As we were stepping off the elevator, our buzzer went off letting us know that our table was ready - perfect timing!  If you have a stroller, like we did, you have the option of taking it to the table, or have the cast members take the stroller hold it in a room for in case you need it.

Our table was near the observation deck, which meant we had a fantastic view of both Magic Kingdom, the castle and the Grand Floridian.
Ferry boat heading to Magic Kingdom.

Our server was quick to approach our table and we placed an order for a bottle of the Bonci Vallerosa Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi for the ladies and a beer for the gentleman.  Our server also recommended the BLT flat bread for starters and we ordered that as well.  The Verdicchio was a crisp and refreshing white wine that tasted similar to a Pinot Grigio. 

The bread service arrived shortly after our drinks.  The bread basket held a whole-grain sourdough roll and lavender focaccia roll served with salted-butter.  The focaccia roll was the table favorite. The flat bread arrived shortly after the bread did.  The flat bread had a crisp and light crust that was topped with slices of tomatoes, bacon pieces, shredded lettuce and a lemon mayonnaise.  The tomatoes provided the most flavor for this flat bread, as they were at-their-peak summer tomatoes.  The bacon provided a nice salty and smokey aspect to it but wasn't the star like the tomatoes.  The lemon mayonnaise went pretty much unnoticed. (We were so excited about both the bread basket and the starter that I forgot to take a picture of both... sorry!)

After finishing our starter, there was a nice break before our entrees arrived. I appreciate this when eating out at a nice restaurant - I don't like being bombarded with the food we ordered, it feels like a restaurant is trying to rush you out the door when this is done.  The California Grill does not do this. 

For my entree, I ordered the pork two ways.  The first way was a grilled tenderloin served medium with a goat cheese polenta and mushrooms.  This was phenomenal and my favorite "way".  The pork was cooked to perfection, if you want your pork cooked more they will do this for you as well.  The second way was a piece of lacquered belly, homemade applesauce and an apple ring.  I really wanted to like this "way" but unfortunately this was a bit dry and overdone to my liking.  Both apple servings were delicious. 

Pork served two ways.

My friend had the oak-fired filet of beef.  The filet was served with a sweet corn risotto, grilled corn relish, spring onion oil, and popcorn shoots.  This was also very good.  The sweet corn risotto was a perfect accompaniment to the smokey filet. 
Oak-Fired Filet of Beef.
Her husband ordered off of the sushi menu.  He ordered a Dragon Roll and the Pork Belly Nigri.  The Dragon roll consisted of spicy and tataki tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado and dragon sauce with Hijiki-Shirataki Salad.  The Pork Belly Nigri  consisted of the house-cured pork belly, bacon atop Yuzu Rice with a spicy Teriyaki sauce drizzled on-top.  He offered me a piece of the Dragon Roll, which I have ordered before, and it is was delicious. Unfortunately I didn't get to try the Pork Belly Nigri, but I am assuming it was good based on how fast it disappeared!
Pork Belly Nigri is on the bottom left.  Dragon roll is on the top right of the plate.

By the time dinner was done, there just wasn't enough room left for dessert so we skipped it. But I have had the dessert before the highly recommend the vanilla creme brulee. 

Now, one of the perks at dining at the California Grill is, as I mentioned, before the view. And many people try to schedule their dinner for when the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks occur.  The California Grill will dim the lights and play the corresponding music during the show.  If you are unable to secure a reservation at California Grill but not during the fireworks don't despair! Guests who have dined prior in the evening may return to California Grill to view the fireworks, all you need to do is present your receipt from dinner to gain re-entry to the restaurant!

Want to go to Walt Disney World and dine at the California Grill? It is time to start planning now!  Email lauren@magicaltravel.com and I will help you with everything from booking your vacation package, to securing your restaurant reservations,you’re your daily FastPass+ selections! I will save you not only money but also your time! 

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