Thursday, January 13, 2011

California Grill: A Review from the Top of the World

On October 25th, Mom, Dad, and I ate at the California Grill, which we made reservations for back in July as his birthday present. The California Grill is located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort, which is at the very top and offers some spectacular views.
For our reservations, we checked in at the desk on the 2nd floor of the Contemporary and rode a private elevator up to the restaurant. We sat in the lounge by the bar for a few minutes until our reservation time to sip some drinks and enjoy the view. When the sun started to shine in though the windows, a shade came down part of the way, keeping us from being blinded, but still letting us see out.

Once our table was ready, we were led to the dining area and given a table right along the window. We were given our menus, and Mom and Dad decided to order a bottle of wine.

They enjoyed the wine, but I don't think it was something that stood out enough to prevent them from wanting to try something new a second time around. We were given bread and sea-salted butter at our table.

My parents both really enjoyed the bread, and, if i remember correctly, managed to polish off the basket. For an appetizer, they ordered the famed Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Pesto, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Basil. They thought it was pretty tasty, but were expecting something a little more than a single, round ravioli.
Then it was time for the main dishes! I was eyeing up the flatbreads and ordered the "Chefs Garden" Flatbread, which was Heirloom Tomatoes with Baby Mozzarella, Balsamic Onions, and Micro Basil. It was really, really good. The crust was thin and crispy and the flavors all worked together really well. I would definitely order it again and recommend it.
Mom decided to go with the Crispy Seared Chicken with Olive Oil Crushed Potatoes, Chorizo Succotash, Green Tomato Marmalade, and Sherry Jus. She thoroughly enjoyed her meal, but wasn't a big fan of the chorizo. She's never had it before, so I'm not sure if it was because she doesn't like that type of meat or it just wasn't appealing here, but other than that, the chicken was deliciously juicy and potatoes tasty.
Dad decided to order the Oak-fired Fillet of Beef with "Loaded" Mashed Potatoes, Broccolini, and Teriyaki Barbecue Sauce. He really enjoyed his dish as well. He didn't add much commentary, but his entire plate was polished off at the end of the meal. 
For dessert, we ordered the Bananas and Caramel, described as crispy baked phyllo squares layered with banana, caramel, mascarpone mousse, and caramelized banana, and the Valrhona Chocolate Cake, which was warm chocolate cake with molten center, cappuccino caramel crunch ice cream, sweet whipped cream and coffee caramel sauce. 

Dad said his Bananas and Caramel were good. He didn't say spectacular, but it fit what he was looking for in a dessert at the moment. Mom really enjoyed the Chocolate Cake. The center was gooey and molten (as promised) and she managed to finish it for sheer enjoyment of chocolaty goodness. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but they brownish, caramely-looking piece in the middle of the picture was very tough and chewy. Mom said it tasted good, it was just hard to chew and get apart with your teeth gracefully. 

During our meal we were also graced with the beauty of the sunset. The atmosphere of the restaurant was chic and stylish while still casual and relaxed. It was a beautiful view and completely worth the extra money we paid for the meal. 
As an added bonus, the California Grill has an outdoor balcony from which you can watch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, called Wishes. If you dine earlier in the day, before the show as we did, you simply have to bring your dining receipt back to the desk on the second floor, and they'll gladly bring you up to the restaurant so you can enjoy the view. We were a little early and also treated to a distant view of the Electrical Water Pageant. 
The view of the fireworks was definitely a highly recommended experience! Even if you (for some random reason) don't enjoy your meal, the fireworks will make the experience well worth it.
Overall, I would highly recommend the California Grill to everyone looking for a unique dining experience on Disney property. Though the prices may exceed some budgets, it's an experience that you'll remember forever and won't regret. 

If you've dined there, feel free to let me know what you're experience was like and what you think in the comments!


  1. Great photo of the water parade!! Everything else looks wonderful as well.'s been TOO long since I've had that ravioli.

  2. Thanks! The parade was a little more difficult to see from the distance we were at, but we could hear it clearly and were able to enjoy it. (And I think it's time for a reservation then!)