If you follow along on my culinary journey, then you may remember back in February I posted a review of California Grill's Brunch the Top (and if you didn't, you can still read it here). It was such a delightful experience I booked my next reservation while I was still finishing my last bites. Brunch wasn't an option for us during our stay, but I was able to nab dinner for two right at firework time during our summer trip. I was genuinely excited to see what California Grill had in store for dinner. And I was not disappointed!
Location and Atmosphere
As talked about in my previous review, the location and the atmosphere of California Grill set the stage for an amazing experience. Located on the VERY TOP of the Contemporary Resort, California Grill can be accessed by either the monorail or a quick 10-15 min walk from the main entrance to the Magic Kingdom. The location makes the views spectacular and just a bit jaw-dropping. And actually the location and views are a large part of the fantastic ambiance.
The decor is very Californian with a blend of modern and mid-century styles. The end result is crisp and bright, but the view still takes center stage. Depending on your seating area, the panoramic views span from Space Mountain and Cinderella's Castle to the Seven Seas Lagoon and the other nearby resorts. Whether it is at brunch or dinner, the view is flat out amazing. As the sky darkens you are still privy to the Castle and Space Mountain lit up.
This is really the perfect spot for a romantic dinner for two. The view, the atmosphere, the wine and food selections, make this perhaps my favorite date spot in all of Disney World!
On to Dinner...
After the amazing experience I had at their brunch, my expectations were set pretty high for dinner. When you are first seated, they serve warm bread and tomato and olive oil dipping sauce. For our appetizers, we choose the charcuterie plate. The plate itself was really delicious. The meats included italian sausages, asian pork sausage, salami, and a pork and bacon terrine. The star for me was the duck pastrami. But then again I love DUCK! Overall the plate was very satisfying, I do wish there had been an option to add a cheese to the plate. I think that would have put it over the top for me. Thats really a minor suggestion. It was great just on its own!
For entrees we were quite torn, but eventually decided upon the Black Grouper and the Oak-fired Filet of Beef. The Filet was perfectly executed with tomatoes, green beans and potatoes. It was juicy and well seasoned. A solid choice.
I am the one who ventured toward the Grouper. Thats not normally a fish I would choose, but I was well rewarded for my risk! The Grouper was served with rice, bok hoy, baby shiitake mushrooms, and a lime-coconut nage (like a curry). This is not something I would normally order, but for some reason I dove in. The first bite was an explosion of delicate and clean flavors. I immediately knew I had ordered the best dish. The fish was delicious on its own, but I found myself cutting it into small bites to eat with the mushrooms and the sauce. I couldn't get enough. This was an A+++++ dish. If you are eating here in the near future, ORDER THIS! You will not regret it.
For dessert we choose the warm chocolate cake with cashews and whipped panna cotta. The cake was warm and moist with all the components doing their job. And overall this was good. It didn't blow my mind the way the grouper had and Ive had better desserts at other Disney Restaurants, but it was a great way to end the meal.
And now on to the Fireworks!
Beyond the food and views, the other huge draw for California Grill is that they have two observation decks outside of the restaurant. On one side you venture out towards the Magic Kingdom and on the other deck you can see both the Illuminations show at Epcot and the Happily Ever After fireworks at Magic Kingdom. California Grill pipes the music up to the decks so you don't miss out on the music. We choose the ones towards Epcot.
While this viewing of either fireworks show was not the "best" way to see the fireworks (that is hands down at the dessert parties inside the parks!), this was a great way to see them without paying any extra or using a park ticket to get inside the park.
Once again California Grill blew my expectations away (and they were really high!) I will say that if not for the Grouper dish, this would have been just a very good meal. But the Grouper sealed it as one of my absolutely favorites at Disney World. And again, I've already made my next reservations for January...this time with kids...wish me luck...
Tara is a Disney-obsessed Mom of two active boys!