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First Look and Review! Carthay Circle Restaurant in Disney California Adventure

After years of watching the progress of Disney California Adventure’s expansion, and in recent months being able to see the tower of Carthay Circle Theater from behind construction walls, it’s so surreal that I have now actually dined there…twice!

*Please note, the lighting inside Carthay at night is so dark. Many of my photos do not do it justice.

Carthay Circle Restaurant Marquee

Carthay Circle Premiere!

Atmosphere

Inspired by the original Carthay Circle Theatre in Hollywood where Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937, the restaurant is about as close to a true replica as you can get.

The theming inside is true to the period as well. It features fabulous old photos of Walt as well as memorabilia from Snow White. From the moment you walk into Carthay Circle Restaurant, you feel as though you have stepped back in time; back to the “Golden Age” of Hollywood.

When facing Carthay, there are three doors. The two on the left are entrances to the restaurant, and the door to the right is the entrance to the private 1901 Lounge (for which we will soon have a review,too!).  Lovely cast members are there to get the door for you and welcome you to Carthay Circle.

Welcome to Carthay

Upon entering there is a rather large lounge area. To the left is a spacious waiting area to enjoy after you’ve checked in for your meal, and to the right there is a separate room — The Carthay Circle Lounge — where the bar and extra seating is located.

Carthay Circle Lounge

In the lounge, you can get drinks and small bites. No reservations are needed to visit the lounge, and you are more than welcome to grab a drink or appetizer while you are waiting for your table.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to try the lounge, but we will be back for a full review soon!

Carthay Lounge Bar

The Carthay Lounge Features Several Specialty Drinks

Carthay Lounge Menu

Carthay Lounge Seating

Carthay Lounge Table Seating

Reception/Waiting Area

The reception desk and waiting area are quite spacious. Here you will find plenty of seating and lots of fun memorabilia to look at.

Several images from the evening Snow White premiered hang next to a “Police Pass” from that night and a gorgeous display of Seven Dwarfs animation cells, which were said to be the only animation art that hung in the home of Walt Disney.

Animation Cells from Walt Disney's Personal Home Decor

Artwork on Loan from Ron & Diane Disney Miller (WOW!)

Since you will be more than likely overwhelmed by the beauty of the reception area, friendly cast members point you in the right direction to check-in.

Friendly Cast Members

Reception Area Seating

More Reception Area Seating

More Seating with Photos

Once it is time to be taken to your table, you are given an option: stairs or elevator to the dining room?  We took a different route on each visit!

Stairs to the Left, Elevator to the Right.

Carthay Elevator Door

Staircase to Dining Room

When you have reached the top floor, you enter a gorgeous photo-lined hallway that leads you to the main dining room of Carthay.

Hallway to Dining Room

Hallway Photo with Walt & Alice from his "Alice Comedies"

Dining Room View from Hallway

The main dining room includes the kitchen, seating, and private dining rooms. And in the center of it all there is wine service and an amazing ceiling mural featuring background paintings from Snow White.

Carthay Kitchen

Chef Sutton Checking the Line (wearing a Napa Rose Chef Shirt!)

Main Dining Room Seating

There is also a lovely outdoor, patio dining area.

Carthay Patioside Seating

Patio Dining with a View of Buena Vista Street & Disneyland Fireworks if Timed Properly

Private dining rooms can be arranged through Disney Dining. There are 4 private rooms with varying occupancies: Both the Hyperion & Buena Vista Rooms seat up to 5 people, the Premier room seats up to 12, and the Hollywood seats up to 20.

Two of Carthay's Private Dining Rooms; Hyperion & Buena Vista

Hyperion & Buena Vista Private Dining Room Set Up

The ceiling mural featuring paintings of Snow White backgrounds is very subtle. There are no characters, but if you know what you’re looking at, it does seem very familiar.

Snow White Ceiling Mural

Ceiling Mural Close Up

The painting is located on the ceiling in the direct center of the main dining room above the wine service area.

Mural Close Up with Chandelier

Eats

Chef Andrew Sutton from Napa Rose serves as Executive Chef here at Carthay Circle while Gloria Tae, also from Napa Rose is on board as Chef de Cuisine.

While Napa Rose focuses on a Northern California type of cuisine, Carthay Circle dishes are inspired by sunny Southern California. As I write this post, I have eaten at Carthay twice, once with a fixed menu and once ordering off of the “Summer” dinner menu. So, photos will be from both meals.

Summer Dinner Menu

Place Setting

Bread Service
Bread service at Carthay was different on each of my two visits. The first night (the fixed menu and special event), we were served Sourdough with Red Bell Pepper Hummus.

The bread is not served warm, which I prefer; but the Red Bell Pepper Hummus was fabulous, so I didn’t mind so much!

Sourdough Bread with Red Bell Pepper Hummus Spread

The second visit included Sourdough with Salted Butter. I love salted butter. It’s so simple, but really gives the butter a great flavor.

The bread was again served at room temperature. So, I’m guessing that this is the way the bread is served at all times.

Sourdough with Salted Butter

Appetizers
We tried the House Biscuits, which I highly recommend. The night that we ate at Carthay with a fixed menu, I was so sad that the biscuits weren’t being served. So when we were seated for the second visit, I immediately told our server we needed those ASAP!

House Biscuits Served with Apricot Honey Butter

The biscuits are stuffed with white cheddar, bacon, and jalapeno, and served with apricot honey butter. Normally I am not a jalapeno fan, but the flavor in these is very mild and the sweetness of the butter also tones it down.

There are a lot of flavors going on inside of these little balls of happiness. Sweet, savory and spicy; they’re served up warm and gooey. Be careful. I ate almost an entire order.

House Biscuit Close Up

Additional appetizers we have tried are as follows. First up, the Halibut Ceviche, which was part of our fixed menu, special event meal night. It includes avocado and tomatillo-cilantro essence served with crisp plantain chips.

I will tell you now that I am not a seafood fan, therefore, I am automatically not a ceviche fan. I did however try this because, well, it’s my job.

The dish was fin, and the plantain chips were awesome. My husband, who enjoys halibut and ceviche, ate the entire thing!

Carthay Halibut Ceviche

Another appetizer we received on our fixed menu night were the Signature Firecracker Duck Wings.

These were so amazing that we actually ordered them again on our second visit. The funny thing? I probably wouldn’t have ordered them had I not have been forced to have them at the special event we attended!

They are crispy, spicy, and a little sweet, too. Served with soy, lime, and sriracha chili sauce, they are truly one of my new favorite dishes at the Disneyland Resort.

Signature Firecracker Duck Wings

Entrees
The first entree I experienced at Carthay was the Bacon Wrapped Shrimp on Summer Roasted Corn, Grilled Zucchini and Basil Salsa. Remember that “not a seafood fan” thing? The fixed menu at the event helped me to branch out, and I’m so glad that I did. The shrimp were cooked to perfection and the bacon is actually crispy, which I seldom see in “bacon wrapped” items.

The soup-ish salsa it came with, though? It was beyond delicious. I literally wanted to lick my bowl clean. Had I been at home, I would’ve. The salsa was so sweet and creamy — and amazingly enough, I was told by a cast member that there is zero cream used in it, making the dish somewhat “healthier” for you!

It alone should be an individual menu item.

Carthay Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

On the night of the fixed menu event, my husband had the Sauteed Northern Halibut with Relish of Roasted Bell Pepper, Caper Berry and Orange. He really enjoyed it, and is very picky about his fish, so it must have been fab. I passed on trying this one…

Carthay Sauteed Northern Halibut

When we came back the following week, we tried some other options. I had the Pappardelle Pasta with House-made Chicken Meatballs, Tear Drop Tomatoes, fresh Basal, and Yellow Tomato Essence. I really enjoyed this dish.

Although this particular pasta is made in house, most of the pastas at Carthay are not. This one is amazing and reminded me of the fresh pastas I had in Italy last year. The sauce was also nice, and the meat balls were tasty.  They really didn’t have a ton of flavor, but overall I really enjoyed the dish.

Pappardelle Pasta with House-made Chicken Meatballs

Chicken Meatball Close Up

My husband went with the Udon Noodle Bowl with Red Thai Curry Broth, Shrimp & Mussels, Shitake Mushrooms, Bok Choy, Daikon (white radish, I looked it up!), Mint, Cashews, and fresh Coriander. This dish came highly recommended by one of the managing Cast Members who visited our table.

My husband likes seafood and udon, so he went for it and he really loved it. Me, I tried the noodles — which were great, but that was as far as I was willing to go!

Udon Noodle Bowl

Desserts
The Dessert menu at Carthay is Seasonal, so it’s exciting to think that it will be changing every few months! We were able to check out a few different dishes, all of which were spectacular.

Carthay Summer Dessert Menu

Personally, I love fruity desserts, so I was really happy about all of the seasonal fruit menu items. On our fixed menu night we were brought out two dishes to try: the first was Toasted Lemon Pound Cake with Fresh Marinated Blueberries, Lemon Curd Cream, and Tahitian Vanilla Chantilly. This dish was fantastic; fresh, tart, creamy with the sweet blueberries. Right up my alley.

Toasted Lemon Pound Cake with Fresh Marinated Blueberries

I even found a Hidden Mickey while I was eating!!!

Hidden Mickey Blueberries!

Next up was the Seasonal Fruit Pie with Whipped Brown Sugar Sour Cream. Forgive me, but I can’t remember the exact flavor of the fruit. This one was my husband’s and I was enjoying my blueberries so much, I didn’t pay much attention to his.

I did have a bite and it was good; more like a pastry than a pie. I think it was some sort of berry/apple type of number. I’ll pay more attention next time!

Seasonal Country Pie with Whipped Brown Sugar Sour Cream

Saving the best for last, we ordered the Fried Banana Split Monte Cristo Sundae on our second visit. This little plate of amazingness consisted of raspberry and chocolate fudge ice creams, and warm caramel rum bananas.

Perfect to share, this one won’t disappoint.

Monte Cristo Banana Split Sundae

Kids’ Eats

It may sound silly, but one of the things that excites me most about Carthay is their Children’s Menu.

The offerings here are unlike anything I have ever seen on a Disneyland Resort Children’s Menu. Forget chicken strips and hamburgers, Carthay is giving little ones a chance to eat sophisticated meals designed with kids in mind.

There are several dishes on here that I’d love to try too! I’m seriously considering ordered the Sloppy Joes or Chicken Schnitzel on my next visit! Oh, and those desserts? Let’s just go with, YUM!

Children's Menu

My boys are both major carnivores, so they went with the exact same meal, the Grilled Petit Filet of Beef with Broccoli and Crispy Macaroni and Cheese.  However, they switched it up and got green beans and french fries instead of the broccoli.

Grilled Petit Filet of Beef

We did, however, take that order of Mac n’ Cheese on the side, and I’m thrilled we did because it was so delish. Really rich and filling, very similar to the Mac n’ Cheese at Napa Rose.

Side of Mac n' Cheese with Fresh Parmesan

The desserts on the children’s menu also do not disappoint. My boys ordered the Green Apple Caramel Parfait Push Pop and the Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich. They devoured them so quick, I barely managed to get a taste in!

My favorite of the two was definitely the Green Apple Caramel Parfait Push Pop: Green Apple and Lemon Raspberry Sorbets layered with caramel. It was tart, sweet, and topped with the same chocolate “gravel” Flo’s uses on their milkshakes!

My 10 year old son really enjoyed the presentation of the Push Pop. I literally had to pry it out of his hands to try it.

Green Apple Caramel Parfait Push Pop

This is what the Push Pop looked like after just a few minutes after my son received it. I’d say it was a hit…

Devoured Push Pop

My 8 year old ordered the Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich with Chocolate Cookies and Chocolate Dipping Sauce. Basically two fresh chocolate-chocolate chip cookies with chocolate ice cream in the middle, served with a little dipping bowl full of chocolate sauce, sprinkles & whipped cream. Heaven for my little chocolate lover.

Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich

It was really yummy, but for me, chocolate overload! There’s no way I could’ve eaten the whole thing. My 8 year old had no problem scarfing it down.

Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich Close Up

Beverages at Carthay Circle Restaurant

Carthay serves a wide variety of “Disney” family wines, including several from John Lasseter’s winery in Napa located in Northern California.

Lasseter Family Rosé Wine

More Lasseter Family Wines

There are also several specialty drinks as well as specialty non-alcholic drinks. Stay tuned for a post on Carthay drinks. I need to go back just to cover beverages!

Beverage Menu

Wines sold by the glass are stored here in the center of the main dining room. There are also wines available by the bottle that are stored in several cellars throughout the restaurant.

Cold Wine Storage

One of Several of Carthay's Wine Cellars

Overall

I am thrilled that Carthay Circle Restaurant is open, and both of my meals there were absolutely fabulous. They have an excellent variety across the board, and I think that their Children’s Menu is perhaps my new favorite in all of the Disneyland Resort.

The dishes are creative, flavorful, and unique; and it’s a super bonus that dining includes World of Color viewing (see here for details). I can’t wait to go back again. But first, Aulani awaits (stay tuned for reviews from Aulani soon)!

Have you been to Carthay Circle Restaurant or Lounge yet? Any favorite items?

Heather Sievers is the Disney Food Blog’s Dining in Disneyland columnist. See more of her columns here!

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39 Comments

  1. Roger says:

    Thank you for your review Heather!! I too had a very delicious meal at Carthay Circle Restaurant. I have to say it was the best meal I’ve had in a long time. I had the Cavatelli pasta with braised lamb and shared three appetizers and three desserts with friends at my table. The service was beyond amazing and everyone was in good spirits! Disney definitely has a winner here and I can’t wait to go back and try other plates.

  2. Anderson says:

    Great review. I cannot wait to try this place. Chef Sutton is great.

    I don’t have a ressie for this next trip (Friday/Saturday) but I definitely want to stop into the Lounge to try the Duck Confit sliders

  3. Tammi says:

    Great review and such gorgeous photos. I’m a picky eater so I’ve been a little nervous with our pending reservation to Cathay Circle but everything looks absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to try those biscuits. The children’s menu is impressive; the choices are top notch and look very tasty. I would love order a few of those items for myself. :)

  4. M.T says:

    Do you have to make reservations or do they take walk ins just fine?

  5. John B says:

    Great review! Is the lounge area open for lunch, or just dinner? And does CC offer the WoC dinner package that used to be at Ariel’s Grotto? Thanks!

  6. Gustave says:

    WOW! What a gem (straight from the seven dwarf’s diamond mine)! Just to see the only animation art that hung in Disney’s home would be worth a visit. Whoever thought to paint the ceiling mural in the style of those beautiful, milky, watercolor backgrounds that characterized the Silly Symphonies and the early full-length features, deserves high praise. Your pictures may not do it justice, but they are splendid! The monte cristo banana split sundae looks like all good, decadent things rolled into one good, decadent thing! My mouth is watering at the food, just as my brain is watering at the creativity of the food and the surroundings. Even the kid’s menu looks spectacular! Perhaps they would hire me to don the costume and persona of a Hollywood mogul, circa 1937, and I could just sit there and eat all day and all evening, as a bit of extra theming!

  7. Tom Bricker says:

    Excellent review, definitely in-line with what we experienced.

    I think you’re absolutely right about the biscuits (we ended up ordering a second bowl because they were so good) and my wife really enjoyed the Halibut Ceviche. She also had the bacon-wrapped shrimp, and we both would agree that the corn-salsa was AMAZING! During the course of our meal, I saw the $22 burger pass by our table…I can see why that burger is $22. I know what I’m getting next time!

    I had the Grilled Rib-eye, which was also amazing. As were desserts. Honestly, I can’t say there’s anything that we DIDN’T love. I’ve heard service is hit or miss, and ours was definitely a “miss.” It wasn’t a huge deal, especially given that we dined there on opening night, but it was not the service I’d expect from a fine dining locale.

    We dined on the terrace and concluded the meal with Magical! (great view–I’ve posted some photos) followed by a tour of the restaurant. I was incredibly impressed with all of the hand-crafted and ornate details. Disney definitely went all out with the craftsmanship here.

    The Lounge is wonderful, with a great UNIQUE drink menu (my favorite was the Carthay Manhattan, complete with pressed ice sphere), although service was slow every time we visited. Again, this is probably because we visited during opening weekend and they’re still trying to iron out the kinks.

    We ate at Club 33 the day after eating at Carthay, and comparing them side-by-side, all things considered, I think I’d give the edge to Carthay Circle Restaurant. It’s prettier, has a better menu, and is more reasonably priced. Granted, Club 33 has amazing history and better service, and I’d recommend everyone eats there once if they ever have the opportunity, but Carthay Circle is a great alternative if you don’t have the option or have dined at Club 33 at least a few times.

    Overall, my new favorite dining experience at Disneyland Resort!

  8. Mike says:

    Sounds like a great restaurant. I’ll be sure to book a table next time I am out west. I was a little bummed to see no draft beer (is it on a separate menu perhaps?) but the bottled beer list is very good (if a bit small) and even includes some 750ml bottles!

  9. Aaron says:

    Beautiful restaurant, loved the photos, but I wonder if it would have been a better idea to send a reviewer whose tastes include seafood since it’s half the menu.

  10. notchris says:

    Great writeup! DLR finally gets some decent eats after the vineyard room closed and the space looks wonderful. Now I’m getting too excited about trying this in August.

    @JohnB According to the DL dining line, for the WoC tickets, each person needs to order 1 entree + (1 app or 1 dessert).

  11. Katie says:

    Really nice. I wonder – do you feel inclined to dress up for meals there? We will be with kids all day and had not planned to change from our comfortable clothing.
    oh – and I would rather order from the kids menu, too!! :)

  12. Heather Sievers says:

    @Roger – Glad you like it! I agree with you, it’s fabulous!

    @Anderson – I love Sutton too! You know, you can always try walk up, you never know if there will be a cancellation!

    @Tammi – There’s totally something for everyone and they will let adults order from the kid’s menu in adult portions (but with adult prices…)

    @MT – They do take walk ups if available, but it has been very booked up and reservations are recommended. You can always go to the lounge though!

    @John B. – Lunch too! WoC tix can be obtained if each member of your party orders an entree and a appetizer OR dessert.

    @Gustave- Glad you enjoyed, I’ll be looking for you in your costume!

    @Tom – Glad you guys loved the food too! I heard the same about service from some others, we had great service. Hoping they are just kinks due to being new.

    @Mike – I will check on the beer situation on my next visit.

    @Aaron – Sorry, you’re stuck with me, the non-seafood enjoying reviewer! ; )

    @NotChris – The space is so gorgeous, you will love it! Make sure to make your reservation for August. It’s been booking up fast!

    @Katie – No, not at all, I saw all levels of “dress” there. Especially during lunch, they know people are there enjoying the parks. AND I was told you CAN order from the kids menu. They do adult portions of the menu item, but unfortunately, they have adult pricing as well…

  13. notchris says:

    Just sent my adr request email!

    Piggybacking a bit on Aaron’s comment – for the next update, could you try some of the lunch-only or dinner-only items? (rough assignment, I know ;)

    Also, if you had to choose one, would you prefer this or Napa Rose?

  14. Janet says:

    Oh my! The service was great, the food was wonderful and the atmosphere was way more relaxing then I expected. By the way, we were part of the party with Roger (first post).

    My husband had the grilled ribeye and he really liked it. I had the northern halibut which was really good & one of the fish that I love. Plus we split a bottle of the Rosa Regale wine.

    One of our friends had the bacon wrapped shrimp, and it was to die for. The two bites I got just made me wish I’d ordered that instead. My husband & I both want that on our next visit. The shrimp and another bottle of wine & we’d both be happy campers.

    The only thing I didn’t like the taste of – was the house biscuits. I don’t like cheese & that’s all I tasted. Don’t judge me Heather, you don’t like fish. :)

  15. Carolyn says:

    Thanks so much Heather. That restaurant looks so incredibly beautiful – wow.! I have to remember to bring business casual when I go there! :) I have looked at menus (love playing menu game!) but do not see vegetarian entrees on the menu. Do you know if they have anything or if they can do anything for vegetarians?

    The deserts look like heaven. Hmmmmmmmmmm – although that pie thingy looked teeny tiny, was it really that bite sized?

  16. Heather Sievers says:

    @not Chris – Awesome! You will love it. I hope to go back soon for lunch and lounge offerings. Too hard to choose between Napa and Carthay. I love them both!

    @Janet – I totally forgive you for not liking cheese! ; )

    @Carolyn – They will make you a vegetarian dish upon request, in fact I have heard from some people that visited and loved their “personal” veggie creations! The desserts are not huge portions, but they are so rich that I liked the smaller size.

  17. Kim says:

    Great review! I am looking forward to going sometime. It almost seems as though Carthay is Disney’s nod to all those who have dreamed of trying Club 33 but never could. It certainly looks like it has the special atmosphere, almost like that of a private club. Disney just keeps exceeding expectations, IMO.

  18. Heather Sievers says:

    @Kim – Thanks! You will love it there! Very special atmosphere!

  19. Chuckie says:

    Great review!!! I am planning a trip for March and was wondering if you had to choose would you pick this or Napa Rose for a first time Disneylander?

  20. Heather S. says:

    @Chuckie – That’s a really tough call because both are amazing! I think as a first timer to DL though, I’d say Carthay because of the atmosphere and location. IF you can do both though, go for it! ; )

  21. Jennie says:

    Fabulous review Heather. So glad I read every word for my upcoming bday dinner at CC in Aug. I’m definitely getting the rolls, wrapped shrimp & banana split…and side of Mac n cheese (my favorite dish at NR). I’m also thrilled I will be able to regale the other diners with facts about the decor. You never fail to keep me “in the know” so I can impress my friends and family. :)

    Happy trails
    Jennie

  22. Heather Sievers says:

    @Jennie – Thanks for your kind words! You will LOVE eating at Carthay. Food and ambiance are super amazing!

  23. Debbie says:

    Let me first start by saying – I’m a lover of all things Disney, and as soon as I saw the pictured menu items and their descriptions, I was SO excited to dine here. Upon reading the first posted Disney blog reviews, I just knew we were in for a fantastic dining experience. I had booked our Disneyland holiday through Dreams Unlimited travel service in May, and I had my agent promptly book July 9 reservations for our party of 5. We arrived about 5 minutes ahead of our scheduled 7:30 reservation time. We were escorted to an outdoor patio table at 7:40, and our waiter took our orders at about 10 of 8. It went downhill from there – as we waited, waited, and waited for meals that would never come. It was 8:25 when I had my husband track down our waiter to find out what was going on. At this point, my 10 year-old was starving and due to that began to get a headache. My husband came back to the table, and said our waiter had told him “our meals were being plated – 5 more minutes”. We waited another 15 minutes and it’s now nearly 8:45 – we couldn’t wait any longer and my son was now feeling worse. My husband went to the reception lounge to pay for our drinks (which were comped, as they should’ve been) and to tell them we were leaving. We wasted almost an hour and 1/2 sitting and waiting for nothing. Hubby and 2 older sons went about the rides in DCA, but unfortunately now I had to take my ill child back to the hotel. On the way back I stopped and got him a dinner box to-go at Taste Pilots Grill, which took all of 5 minutes. The night was ruined for him and I. I don’t understand what happened with Carthay Circle restaurant, as it wasn’t even that busy. As we were walking to our table we passed many empty tables. The patio where we were seated had only 2 other tables besides ours with patrons. Service definitlely isn’t up to Disney standards – TERRIBLE and won’t be back. What a shame.

  24. Heather Sievers says:

    @Debbie – So sorry to hear this! I’ve only had excellent service there; wish you had too!

  25. Matt says:

    Myself and 5 of my friends dined here this past Saturday. The restaurant itself is absolutely amazing to look at. I personally wasn’t overly thrilled with the food that I ordered though. The house biscuits were delicious, and I hate jalapeno. But honestly, you really didn’t taste it. I got the pork pot roast and it just didn’t seem to have a whole lot of flavor. Even the mashed potatoes were kinda blah. For dessert we shared a couple of the banana split monte cristos and really, I wish I’d have passed and got a hand dipped bar from Clarabelles instead.

    I’ll definitely go back and try some other items. And our service was outstanding. But we did have a couple of quirky things happen. We were sitting in the east room, right next to the automatically opening doors to the balcony seating. That got annoying really fast with the squeaky doors opening and closing. But after a while management flipped a switch and the doors just remained open. Then as the sun was lower in the sky, a couple of our friends were getting blinded. The manager said they were working on installing awnings outside for this very reason (the few umbrellas out there really do no good).

  26. Heather Sievers says:

    @Matt – Glad to hear you’ll give it another chance! The first time we ate there, we were near those doors too! Glad to hear about a solution!

  27. Al Mint says:

    I’ve been a DL patron for many years even before my kids where born and am a premium pass holder. I generally like the food at the park, especially the Blue Bayou. I went to the Carthay Circle Restaurant for lunch today with my Daughter for her 17th Birthday. I’m confused by the reviews. I guess it’s my taste and the table next to us as well who sent their salads back not being able to eat them. The service is outstanding and the restaurant is beautiful. The food is just strange. I ordered the Burger which was ok but the pickles where really weird. My daughter ordered the pasta with meatballs and yellow tomato sauce. It came in a steep sided bowl that made the dish very hard to eat. The meatballs were very spicy and just had a strange taste. Not a dish I’d order again and didn’t finish it. There are obviously a lot of people that like this type of food. I definitely think you will either love it or hate it. I look forward to a menu change but I will not return till that happens.

  28. Ingrid says:

    Love Carthay Circle. Love Napa Rose. Food is fanastic. Wish that Disney would put as much effort into having their wait staff be as great as the food. Servers last visit at Napa Rose never smiled and simply went through the motions, not making guests feel special or wanted. Servers at Carthay have been heard on many occasions “It’s not my table”. Certainly not the Disney way. Keep coming back because the food is great – better at Carthay than Napa Rose so if you can select just one, make it Carthay Circle!

  29. chris says:

    Finally! I made it out to lunch twice last week.

    The restaurant feels odd because they make a big deal about pulling design elements from the period and the original theatre, but the menu is thoroughly modern. In a way it works because all of Buena Vista St is in an alternate timeline. Here, Prohibition must have been repealed early or never happened.

    It’s been 2 months since Carthay opened and it doesn’t feel quite ready. I thought the food itself was very good but the timing and service are a bit of a mess. It’s not too bad of a start and I expect they’ll work out the kinks soon. (Or they won’t and it will eventually become some type of character meal)

  30. Heather Sievers says:

    @Al Mint – Sorry you had a bad experience. I have heard more than once that the menu is a bit out of the ordinary for a theme park. I have only had good experiences there.

    @Ingrid – Glad you enjoyed the food! I’ve had pretty good service, have experienced some slowness, but everyone has been friendly. If you are at Napa Rose, request Wendy or Saucy! They won’t let you down!

    @Chris – I’ve experienced slow service too, hopefully the kinks will be worked out soon!

  31. I’m sad to say that we ate at Carthay over Labor Day weekend and the service issues are still there. I recapped on my blog at http://www.990square.com/2012/09/the-carthay-circle-restaurant/

  32. Heather Sievers says:

    @Beth – Bummer! Hopefully they’ll get it worked out soon. I do enjoy the food there, though!

  33. Cal McCrary says:

    My family and I ate at Carthay 9/19/2012. We did it mostly because they promised great reserved seating to The Wonderful World of Color at California adventure. We were four adults and two children. They put us in a private room. It was truly my worst experience at DIsney! The room was cold, the lighting made it hard to read the menu and the service was agonizingly slow! They were so slow we were nearly late for the WOnderful World of Color. (the whole reason we even tried the Carthay) The reserved seating they bragged about was nothing to brag about, especially for children! (the whole reason for the Disney trip) The food was nothing to write home about either! The restrooms were also the dirtiest I have ever seen at DIsneyland!!! Restrooms eleswhere in the park were great! I hate giving negative reviews! But when you travel great distances and spend large sums of hard earned dollars you also have the right to expect alot!! When it carries the Disney name you also expect it to be family friendly!!

    Sincerely, Cal M

  34. Al Mint says:

    Cal, I know what you mean, there are a lot of cheer leaders that seem to want to put a positive spin on the restaurant no matter what. Bottom line, it’s one of or “the” most expensive places for the gen public to eat in the park and supposedly the show place establishment. I love the Disney experience but this is not what I’ve been trained to expect over the years. In my experience, when you have a pattern of bad food and bad service, it is a management issue. Until a decision is made to change that, it will not improve and they will continue to take the money from unsuspecting tourists and build bad press that will be difficult to repair. Having to ask for a specific server that bucks the bad trend just to have a pleasant experience in an upscale restaurant is unacceptable.

  35. Andrew says:

    We dined at Carthay Circle on Saturday night this past week (November 17, 2012). We arrived at 6:51 for our 7 p.m. reservation and were told our table would be ready in 10-15 minutes.

    There were so many people waiting in the lobby and lounge, we couldn’t find a place to sit, even though we were exhausted from a day in the parks. We weren’t the only ones, either, so every time a table became available, several parties would try to pounce on it.

    We finally did get a table in the lounge, after waiting about 20 minutes. My wife and I ordered cocktails while we were waiting, which helped our mood a bit. However, since we had been waiting 20 minutes (and counting) for our table that should have been ready in 10-15 minutes, that mood wasn’t particularly good.

    At 7:30, 30 minutes after our reservation time and 40 minutes after checking in, I went to the desk to ask about our table. I was told that we were next, and that a host would be coming for us in a few seconds.

    We were indeed seated almost immediately at that point, and the rest of the evening went okay. Between the two of us, we started with the firecracker duck wings, the simple green salad (which was pretty complex, actually) and the white cheddar jalapeno biscuits. For dinner, my wife had the pork loin pot roast, which she really liked, and I had the lamb. We thought the food was very good, and worth the cost.

    The service in the restaurant was okay. Considering the menu is very much a fine dining menu, we felt the service wasn’t quite up to that standard. Our server was friendly and attentive, but there wasn’t the level of polish you’d expect at Napa Rose, for example.

    We also felt that the open kitchen (open to our dining room) was a bad choice. It was very noisy and pretty distracting. It was also at odds with the theming. In a restaurant like Napa Rose, which is designed to be very modern, the open kitchen works. At Carthay Circle, meant to evoke days when the kitchen was supposed to be completely invisible, the open kitchen felt like an intrusion.

    Overall, our biggest issues were with the wait times, and lack of facilities to handle patrons who were waiting. Any restaurant inside a theme park needs to be expecting families with children of all ages, and groups who are either tired from spending the day in the park, or are eager to eat and get back to getting the most out of their expensive tickets. Forcing folks to wait (or worse, forcing their kids to wait) 40 minutes to even get seated shouldn’t even be the case at a regular restaurant. It doesn’t seem like a workable proposition at all for a place inside a park. They need to figure out how to handle that flow more efficiently if they’re going to survive.

  36. Angus says:

    Wasted my precious time. Had a reservation for 1 p.m. on my wife’s birthday. After watching several parties walk in and be seated I asked how much longer. They said I was next. After watching several more parties seated, it’s now 1:30. I tell them no thanks. No offer was given. To wait 30 minutes when I’ve made reservations is unacceptable and I will not be dining there again.

  37. Leah says:

    My wife and I ate here on 12.8.12 for our mini anniversary of our wedding. We weren’t as blown away as we were hoping for, having read this review. The service was good, our server was very nice and efficient. It was packed so the wait times were expected but they were not as horrible as they could have been. The food, however, was disappointing. For the price, I was hoping to have that eyes rolling to the back of my head experience and I just didn’t. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll be going back any time soon.

  38. Gabby Hasenyager says:

    Now, I am a lover of Carthay. Any dish featuring pork I highly recommend. However, I am gong to have to disagree with you about this biscuits. We order them twice just to make sure we weren’t crazy, but they were nasty. The inner texture is comparable to raw dough which is highly unappealing. My entire family, which is comprised of chefs and professional bakers, all agreed that we would never be ordering them again. Aside from those biscuits, Carthay is phenomenal and I would highly recommend most every other item on the menu.

  39. Brett Yaden says:

    We live in Orange County, CA and have been premium passholders for 25 years and go to the parks at least 20 times a year. We are Disney people and have been since my wife’s father worked for Walt at the Studio as one of his lead CPA’s in the 1950′s. We have been to all 5 Disney Resorts around the World and have tasted from the very simple Disney fare to Steakhouse 55 which is our favorite. We went to Carthay about 4 months ago with our Glutton free daughter and had a great time. Yesterday 5/17/14 (hot day) we went to the park with our son his wife and two little girls who hadn’t eaten there yet. The minute we got in at 9:00 am my wife went to make a reservation for around noon. They told here she didn’t need a reservation. So, we get there at around noon and they tell us there were no tables except outside in the patio roof. We were shocked that they told us there was no seating in the restaurant itself. So in the hot of the day we sat outside to eat. The bread, biscuits, burger and fries are great (a little expensive, but good). They asked for a children’s menu and we didn’t see the simple fare, hotdog, chicken, mac and cheese, etc. But instead we saw a Japanese word noodle and beef dish. We thought noodles and beef the kids might eat that. Well, they got noodle soup which to a little child doesn’t look very appetizing to a 4 and 7 year old. They couldn’t eat it and after we the adults took a taste it had the taste of soy broth with no flavoring. We ended up paying for the child’s dish and a adult entrée the chicken. When we explained that to the staff they said the 1st word in the noodle dish means soup. Well, from her attitude it sounded like my son or daughter-in-law should have known that meant soup. Between the no reservations and lack of a decent child’s menu that’s it for Carthay. Please change the menu, child and adult. Stupid us for trusting the Carthay people for not needing a reservation. We will go back to Steakhouse 55. We still love Disney

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