Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: California Grill

You guys may remember, way back in June, I was already thinking about ADRs for our birthday trip.  I was puzzled on where to eat on my actual birthday, so I asked all of you.  I was leaning toward a signature restaurant, and a few of you mentioned California Grill.  Well you are the lucky winners because that was where I chose to have my birthday dinner!

California Grill menu
I was a little nervous because our first time at a signature restaurant in August didn't go so well.  That said, I had faith in California Grill.  Even though I woke up at 6 am to book my ADR exactly 180 days in advance, I couldn't get the 6:30 pm reservation I wanted, so I settled for a 5:55.  The fireworks were at 8, and I was nervous about finishing too soon, but I figured we would have to wait for a table.  Amazingly, we didn't.  You check into California Grill on one of the lower floors of the Contemporary, and you are escorted up in a special elevator.  Our buzzer started going off while we were still in the elevator.

The view from my seat!
Once we got to the top, I made sure that I told the host that we wanted a Magic Kingdom view.  This was my birthday, and I would wait for one.  He told me that he had a great Epcot view from the wine room, and I said we'd wait for a Magic Kingdom view.  He said he'd see what he could do, and less than a minute later, the two of us were taken to a table for four with a PERFECT castle view.  It was magical, and I was so happy.  They put confetti on our table, and we started browsing the menu.

Course one: Triple Cheese Flatbread
 We were on free dining on this trip, and we were using two dining credits to eat here.  That said, the standard dining plan only includes a nonalcoholic beverage, an entree, and a dessert.  Then again, it was my birthday, and James said that I could order as many courses as I wanted.  We started with sodas, and our excellent waitress brought out some bread and butter while we continued perusing the menu.  We knew we wanted to split a flatbread, but we were stuck between the three cheese and the suckling pig.  When we asked our waitress which she recommended, she said the same two!  Finally, we decided on the triple cheese, and it was quite good.  It also had sun dried tomatoes and pesto on top, and we were very pleased with this selection.

Course two: Serrano Ham wrapped Local Rabbit
I wasn't quite sure what to do about our second course because none of them really jumped out at me.  I was at Disney, though, and James was paying.  So I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone.  I definitely did that by ordering the ham wrapped rabbit.  I had never had rabbit before, and I probably never will again, but at least I can say that I tried it once!  It may have been a waste of $16, but it was definitely worth the experience at least.  For those of you who were wondering how it tasted, I partially didn't like it just because I couldn't get past the fact that it was rabbit.  Also, it was rather dry, which didn't help.  I just ate the ham off of it and left the rest on my plate.  For James' second course, he had the Maine Mussels because they ran out of lobster cakes.  I suppose he enjoyed the mussels, since he cleaned his plate.

Course three: Oak Fired Filet of Beef
For our next course, James and I both had the oak fired filet of beef in a teriyaki barbecue sauce.  I was a little nervous about this filet since the one in Jiko was so disappointing, but I had faith that Disney wouldn't disappoint me twice.  And they certainly didn't.  The filet was very good, and James and I both enjoyed it greatly.   I was really happy with this entree, and even the potatoes and carrots were delicious!  We couldn't fill up too much, though, since we still had dessert coming!

Course four: A Birthday Dessert!
I believe they were still using the Christmas-y menu in January when we went because this dessert was still on the menu.  It was a chocolate molten lava cake with eggnog ice cream and peppermint bark.  James and I both ordered this and both chose to opt for vanilla ice cream instead of eggnog.  And James mentioned that he didn't want his peppermint bark, so they put his piece on my dessert!  Mine also came with a thin slab of chocolate that said "Happy Birthday from the California Grill."  It was magical, and I didn't want to eat the slab!  I did want to eat everything else, however, so I dug in.  This dessert was absolutely fabulous!  And even better, right as I was finishing dessert, Wishes started, and we had a perfect view from our table.  It was a magical end to an amazing dinner.  California Grill is now one of my all time favorite Disney restaurants.

I love California Grill, and although it can get very pricey, I think it was worth it.  This is the perfect restaurant for a special occasion, and if you are willing to wait for a Magic Kingdom view, it's worth it.  We didn't even have to move to see Wishes.  I would definitely return to California Grill.

Have you ever been to California Grill?  What did you think of it?  What did you order?  Would you like to try this restaurant?  Let me know your thoughts in a comment, a tweet (@discollegeblog), or on Facebook!


  1. California Grill is one of our favorite restaurants. Next time you go, I highly recommend the goat cheese ravioli for the second course. I am not a big pasta fan, but our server suggested this one and I loved it. Also, the pork tenderloin is really good too. We were lucky enough last trip to have a window seat and were looking directly at the castle. It was great! Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. I'll keep that in mind, thanks!

  3. Also one of my favorite's not just in Disney, but anywhere. The last time we dined here the fireworks time had been moved, so we arrived early and grabbed a drink from the bar. A friendly couple suggested the French Martini and so glad they did! It was amazing - basically a martini with Champagne floating on top. We watch the fireworks from the observation deck. For dinner, we split a flatbread, I got the Filet. We love this restaurant and when on the dining plan you could also use 2 credits for 1 meal and pay for the other meal to save your credits.

  4. Agreed that it's one of my favorites anywhere as well! Using credits for only one meal could be worth it, but when our preliminary bill came out to almost $200, we were glad we were on the dining plan.

  5. Best place for sushi on property!

  6. We didn't have sushi there, but I also heard it's good!