Oh my goodness, you guys! We got a chance to check out the newly revamped California Grill last night and IT. IS. AMAZING!
The popular restaurant, which sits high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, is the one that started it all. It was Disney World’s first foray into sleek, signature dining.
But even the most contemporary California vibe can become outdated. And so it was time for a little freshening.
Last night, we got a first look at the brand new re-imagined California Grill.
We’ll have even more pics for you later today — and a longer review for you next week! But I couldn’t wait to share these initial pics of the transformation! Come with us and take a look!
New California Grill Atmosphere
The facelift is evident before you ever set foot on the fifteenth floor. The check in desk, located on the second floor, has also received an updated look.
A new font and background replace the signature cursive. Colorful stripes in warm colors replace the painted tile background.
After a quick trip up in the elevator reserved for California Grill guests, we stepped out into the entrance. A right turn, and we were greeted by a gorgeous, post-storm sunset.
Sweeping vistas have always been a hallmark of California Grill, but they’ve been made even more stunning with the introduction of floor to ceiling windows, which allow for plenty of natural light and incredible, 360-degree views.
Previously, the space was dominated by bright, bold geometric patterns. In re-imagining the space, Imagineers decided to look to the Contemporary’s mid-century roots for inspiration.
Taking elements from the work of iconic Disney artist Mary Blair, the entire space was overhauled and given a new look that is at once retro and completely modern. Nothing, from the light fixtures to the color palette, was left untouched during the seven month renovation.
Even the table settings and private rooms have been changed up to fit the new look.
Of course, an incredible wine list is always a centerpiece at California Grill, and this new wine storage is now a focal point.
Behind the counters, there was a flurry of well-orchestrated activity, as chefs and culinary assistants busily prepared tasting plates for the hungry crowd.
The new wood burning oven is a major addition to the restaurant!
The Sushi counter continues to be a huge highlight of the restaurant, and it becomes even more so with showcase displays and updated lighting!
The full open kitchen showcases all of the restaurants new creations, including desserts!
And the staff are excited to share the new menu!
New California Grill Eats
Speaking of incredible eats, let’s take a look at the revamped menu! While favorite old dishes continue to dot the menu, you’ll also see from fresh new flavors.
We began with some handcrafted cocktails. I chatted at length with one of the awesome bartenders, who said they were really looking to add some classic options to the menu, like the Classic Side Car and the San Fran Pisco Sour.
But they also wanted to offer some fresh, hot flavors. Because of the emphasis on Japanese cuisine and sake at California Grill, a cocktail featuring it headlines the menu.
It was the perfect companion to that gorgeous sunset!
The new wood burning oven menu is an exciting addition to California Grill. This is where Cali Grill fans will find their favorite flatbreads (changing up by season, of course), along with those incredible meatballs I tried earlier this Spring!
Some favorite sushi combos are coming back, but the one that caught my eye is the new Pork Belly option! YUM!
I’m always pleased to see favorites return after restaurant renovations, and you know I’ll still always be ordering that gorgeous Goat Cheese Ravioli. But the new appetizers look incredible as well.
Here’s a look at the awesome “Duck in all its glory!”
And while the beloved filet, and pork with polenta dishes are again on the menu (thank goodness!), I know that Chef Piasecki is very excited about that 24-hour Short Rib “Filet!”
Here’s a glimpse of the new Roasted Squash Ravioli! A perfect combo of comfort food, market-fresh ingredients, and California flair!
And the halibut was perfect.
Dessert was another incredible affair — fun, interesting, and unique!
We loved the Sundae Sampler!
And here are the modestly named “Chocolate Pudding Cake,” and some new fritters!
We’ll have more food photos for you later today, and we’ll have a full review next week! Stay tuned!
Additional Details About the Omakase Menu
I also had the chance to speak with Chef Brian Piasecki about the brand new Omakase Menu at California Grill.
According to Chef Piasecki, the experience will take the place of a Chef’s Table that you might find at other high-end restaurants. There will be one seating per evening, at 8PM.
The menu will feature multiple courses — anywhere from ten to fourteen. These will primarily be sushi, but can be changed up with whatever the Chef desires. Each course will be based upon the freshest, best ingredients that are available that day — and will depend on the ingenuity and creativity of the chef and his team.
Guests requesting the Omakase Menu will be seated at the sushi bar, and will watch as the culinary team handcrafts each course. The meal progression will include lighter fare at the beginning and will intensify with richer, heavier options in later courses.
Chef Piasecki envisions the experience as unpretentious and “unstuffy.” It will be a celebration of the talents of the staff and the freshest, most interesting ingredients they can procure. The price will be $175 per person.
We were so thrilled to get the chance to dine at California Grill, and I can’t wait to head over to the restaurant again after it opens on September 9th. The newly revamped interior and updated menu give a different experience to dining here, but those who loved California Grill before will still enjoy the restaurant. The concept is largely the same — market-inspired, high-end, fresh, and modern.
And don’t forget to book your reservation in time to see the fireworks! Remember, even if you don’t get your reservation exactly in time for the fireworks, guests who dine at the restaurant all evening can bring their receipt back in order to take advantage of the California Grill’s outdoor fireworks viewing area.
We’ll see you there! And don’t forget — we’ll be back next week with a full review of this experience!
Thanks to Disney for inviting us to this Grand Opening Media Event. This was complimentary for our reporters to attend, however we were not required or obligated to publish a review.
And a huge thanks to @MealTrip for attending the event as our official photographer (and staying up all night editing photos)!