After a long downtime and remodeling that started on February 1, 2013, the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort reopened on September 9, 2013 with great fanfare – and to great reviews.
Considered by many to be one of the best restaurants at Disney (in the same league as Victoria & Albert’s, but not quite as formal), the California Grill has always been an exceptional restaurant at Disney World: it has amazing views, amazing food, and amazing service. Yet, somehow, Disney has built on that history and taken it to the next level.
The refurbishment included both a reworking of the restaurant’s décor and menu. Let’s take a look at what you can expect.
Of course, you would expect a restaurant at the Contemporary Resort to have a contemporary feel. The California Grill does not disappoint.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of décor is the stunning view of the Magic Kingdom, the Seven Seas Lagoon, and Bay Lake through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and the 15th story vantage point.
A long wall of metal wine cellar refrigerators not only keeps 1,600 bottles of wine at the perfect temperature, but also turns them into a work of art.
The restaurant is decorated in yellows and oranges, and the carpet features a custom design that picks up on the style of artist Mary Blair who is famous for not only designing the huge mural in the Contemporary Resort’s Grand Canyon Concourse, but also developing the style for It’s A Small World at the Magic Kingdom.
A painting of a Napa Valley landscape, custom funky lighting, and mid-century ceramics all come together to provide a feel that is simultaneously retro and up-to-the-minute modern.
The new kitchen is on-stage, so you can see the chefs working their magic: yet another modern touch that adds to the energy and fun of the restaurant.
The Chef de Cuisine spent nearly a full year redesigning the menu. Some favorites from the previous version of the restaurant, like Pork Two Ways, got an update. A new wood fired oven adds new tastes, and the menu includes plenty of fresh, local flavors like corn from Zellwood, Florida, and local prawns.
Interested in a culinary adventure? Consider the Omakase experience. The word means “to entrust,” and it also means that there is no menu. The sushi chef will prepare up to ten different courses, all based on the freshest and most interesting ingredients available that day. The adventure costs $175.
The in-house breads were always popular at the California Grill, but the two new breads they now offer are really special: whole-grain sourdough rolls and a California lavender focaccia served with olive oil and herbs.
You can enjoy a wide variety of starters: oven-dried tomato flatbread for $13; signature three-meat meatballs with olives and orzo for $15; and jumbo baked prawns for $20.
Get ready for your mouth to water: oak-fired beef for $49; scallops with pork, onion, and Parmesan for $43; and squash ravioli with spinach, parsnips, and brown butter for $32.
The restaurant boasts 250 different bottles of wine, and 80 different wines that you can order by the glass. There are more than 20 sommeliers on duty.
The pastry chef developed a completely new menu with some interesting choices: a sundae sampler that includes a strawberry sundae, a caramel corn sundae, and a Coke float for $12; a chocolate pudding cake with mint for $9; and a no sugar added lemon meringue cheesecake with charred meringue clouds that is gluten free for $12.
Overall the décor, menu, food, and wine look amazing. Are you read to make your reservation at Disney’s California Grill?
Do you like the new look and menu at the California Grill?