Please welcome back guest author Heather Jones as she shares a review of the Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian in Disneyland Resort!
Recently my husband and I had the opportunity to take a quick trip out to California to visit friends and of course, Disneyland! Because this was a bonus trip, money was a little tight. However, I had always dreamed of dining at the famous Napa Rose Restaurant.
We decided to save our pennies by snacking our way through the weekend and then have a big, splash-out meal at the end of the trip. I’m here to report that this was a great move!
Napa Rose is located in Disneyland’s flagship hotel, The Grand Californian.
We started our journey in the lounge. There were plenty of cozy areas to relax and enjoy a drink while we waited for our reservation, but I just dashed around snapping pictures.
After a short wait, we were ushered into the dining room, which features floor to ceiling windows that allow beautiful views of the lush landscaping. We, however, would not be sitting at one of these tables because we decided to experience the Chef’s Counter.
Here’s the Chef’s Counter, which offers two seatings per night and has eight seats — four on one side and four on the other. The view of the open kitchen is incredible!
If you dine at the chef’s counter you can certainly order from the regular menu. However, for a fixed price, the chef will design a custom multi-course menu just for you. We decided to go for it!
The chef introduced himself and asked if we had any allergies or aversions (we have neither) and then proceeded to create a show-stopping meal that we will absolutely never forget. (Editor’s Note: While Executive Chef Andrew Sutton may be your host chef, it’s not guaranteed. More often you’ll be interacting more regularly with a sous chef.)
We opted to add a wine pairing to our experience. After all, we can’t have come all the way to Napa Rose in Disneyland and not get the wine pairing, right?
We were presented with glass of champagne along with an amuse bouche — a mild pepper stuffed with cheese and chorizo. From this point on, we each received separate and very different courses individually paired with wine.
We were also presented with a variety of gorgeous breads from which I abstained. I certainly didn’t want to get filled up before we even started. They sure looked good, though.
I could easily have just used “AMAZING” to describe each and every dish we were served! Many of the dishes can be found on the regular Napa Rose menu, but some are whipped up just for the chef’s counter guests.
Note that my husband and I each got a different dish for each course, so I’ll share photos of both dishes!
Our first course was a Strawberry Buttermilk Salad. This included mixed greens, carrots, and jicama with pulled chicken, dehydrated strawberries, oranges, and a buttermilk dressing.
Along with the Strawberry Salad came a Fried shrimp with greens, buttermilk dressing, and a lemon sauce.
The second course included Seared Halibut with purple potatoes, lemon and basil aioli. We also received a perfectly seared diver scallop with lobster sauce and fried potato.
All the servers at Napa Rose are also certified sommeliers. Our server enjoyed presenting this particular wine to me. It had a quirky label with a lot of ponderings about life and existence.
For the third course, we enjoyed Venison meatballs with yellow tomato and shaved parmigiano reggiano, and a variety of cherry tomatoes with zucchini and yellow squash pureé and a duck confit stuffed squash blossom.
I was thinking that my dish was going to be vegetarian, but it turns out that the squash blossom was stuffed with duck confit! Yum!
After this third course, we enjoyed a palate cleanser of coconut sorbet.
Sitting at the chef’s counter provides dinner and a show. I found the finely choreographed ballet of meticulous food preparation absolutely riveting.
There were a couple of tense moments between the chefs, but for the most part it was just a frenzy of focused activity.
We got to witness how important the expediter is for keeping things organized.
Here is a video of the team putting out an order for a huge table:
On to the Main Course! This time, we received Rolled Flank Steak with mushroom, red peppers artichoke hearts, and capers, and Duck Breast with apricot cashew sauce, cashew pureé, and duck confit cake.
Almost to dessert!
Our wine pairing for this course really showed the skill of the sommelier. My husband had a rich chocolate dessert, which was served with a very sweet raspberry wine. Alone, this wine was so treacly sweet I truthfully wouldn’t drink it. However, a sip after a bite of dense chocolate was absolutely perfect!
My dessert wine paired perfectly with my fruity dessert, which was all about cherries!
We rounded out the night with a perfectly executed cappuccino and a Grand Marnier.
This journey of epicurean delights was certainly not cheap (I believe my first car cost less than this meal), but it was definitely worth diverting our dining-out budget into this one spectacular event. An evening at the Napa Rose Chef’s counter is certainly something to be reserved for a special occasion, but, oh boy! What a way to celebrate!
Have you dined at a Chef’s Counter at a Disney restaurant? Let us know in the comments below!
Heather Jones is a wife and mom of two teenagers who loves to travel, Disney being the ultimate destination. She is a foodie, so dining is always the most memorable part of her trips. Heather enjoys sharing her travel adventures in her blog, Maybe Someday…