Last year, California Grill underwent a 9-month refurbishment. The restaurant received a face-lift and menu overhaul. It’s more sophisticated than ever!
California Grill sit high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, on the 15th floor. Guest check-in is on the 2nd floor and are escorted on the elevator to the restaurant. As guests exit the elevator they see a massive wine case. The restaurant features more than 300 wines!
The bar is the first thing you’ll see entering the restaurant. The bar is full service and guests can take a seating nearby and enjoy a glass of wine or cocktails while waiting for their table.
The restaurant has a very warm feel with rich reds, yellow and oranges. The lighting fixtures are modern yet 70s vintage. They add warm light to the restaurant, much better than the previous design. For large parties, there are long wooden tables.
It overlooks the Seven Seas Lagoon and offers guests an amazing view of Magic Kingdom. It’s the perfect place to view Wishes, Magic Kingdom’s nighttime fireworks! You might even get lucky and have a table next to the window and get to view the fireworks without leaving your seat. For guests who aren’t seated by the window and want a better view, step outside and watch from the breezeway.
There is seating located around the open-air kitchen. Guests seating here will have an up-close look at the food being prepared. That truly is a dinner and show!
The majority of tables seat two to four guests and are covered with white linens. All of the tables are already set with silverware, wine and water glasses, bread plate and a beautiful linen napkin with California Grill embroidered.
Chef Brian Piasecki created this menu to take advantage of fresh, seasonal produce, fish and meats. You’ll see this philosophy carried throughout the menu. The sushi menu, created by sushi chef Yoshie, is fantastic. After looking at you could decide to just skip the rest of the menu after looking at it.
Here is a look at some of the menu items offered:
Three-Meat Signature Meatballs – Piquillo pepper and Parmesan grits, eggplant piperade and tiny basil
Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli – Tomato-fennel broth, crispy mushrooms, tiny basil and Benziger Estate olive oil
Tuna Four Ways – Poke, tartare, maki and nigiri
Dragon Roll – Spicy and tataki tuna, shrimp tempura, bell pepper, avocado and chili-soy glaze
Pork Two Ways – Grilled tenderloin, goat cheese polenta, mushrooms, lacquered belly and applesauce
Lamb Porterhouse – Lemon-roasted artichokes, fregola, macorna almonds and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette
Spanish Seafood Pilaf – Lobster, clams, gulf shrimp, scallops, chorizo picante and saffron-rice
Sundae Sampler – Frangelico toffee, reverse root beer float and “banana split”
Seasonal Tasting – Sampling of a variety of desserts made specially for the season
The entire menu can be viewed here. You’ll find the appetizers, soup, salads, sushi, entrees, desserts, kids menus and some of the cocktails and beers.
Food and Drink
The meal starts off with a variety of fresh, house-made breads. It’s accompanied with unsalted butter that’s garnished with sea salt.
We started off our meal with the oven-dried tomato flatbread. The flatbread is topped with beefsteak tomatoes, mozzarella di Bufala, fresh tiny basil and aged balsamic vinaigrette (13). This was amazing! The tomatoes had a lot of flavor the the mozzarella di Bufala was so fresh. It was so good it’s going to be difficult to try something different next time.
Steak lover will be thrilled by the oak-fired filet of beef. The accompaniments change seasonally. This one had heirloom tomato risotto, baby vine tomatoes with petite basil (49). We ordered the steak medium rare and it was prepared perfectly. If you are very particular with the preparation of your steak, no worries. They are spot on!
The menu has a selection of seafood choices and we went with Georges Bank scallops. They were perfectly seared and served with gnocchi, sauteed brussel spouts and topped with Parmesan foam (43). Brussel sprouts have a strong flavor and can sometimes overpower the dish… these did not. They paired nicely with the scallops.
We tried the chef’s selection cheese board which came with five different types of cheese with accompaniments (20). The cheese board is available as a dessert or as an appetizer. We love cheese boards so we try them when we see them on the menu. The selection of cheese was great and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys gourmet cheeses. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, it’s definitely the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to desserts!
Our other dessert was the seasonal tasting, which comes with small portions of a variety of desserts with seasonal ingredients. The one pictured is the apple cupcake with cream cheese streusel, warm spiced cider served with a sugar swizzle stick, peanut butter-caramel apple brulee and apple turnover with compote (12). My advice is if you are a fan of the seasonal ingredient, as with this one – apples, then choose this dessert. If not, you’ll enjoy one of the other desserts much more. The dessert was good but I was appled out by the end.
I’ve always been very pleased with the staff at California Grill. Being a Signature Dining restaurant the service should be better than your average table service location. However, on this particular occasion, the service was just okay. I don’t know if he was having a bad night, new to the restaurant or what, but the service wasn’t up to what you normally get at one of these fine Disney restaurants.
Here is an example of the service not being great. When we ordered our desserts we also ordered coffee with cream and sugar. Unfortunately, the dessert arrived before the coffees. If the restaurant was busy, I’d say that was the reason, but it wasn’t. We weren’t seated until almost 9 pm and by the time we ordered dessert, the restaurant was pretty empty.
Overall the restaurant was great! The updated menu and restaurant decor are fantastic. I’ll definitely be returning soon than later.
For guests unfamiliar with the restaurant, it’s a Signature Dining restaurant (or fine dining). It does have a dress code of business casual The Disney Dining Plan and Tables in Wonderland are accepted. Dining hours are 5 pm to 10 pm, daily.