Guest Author AM Appleby returns to share her California Grill Brunch at the Top experience at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Brunch is offered every Sunday from 10AM – 1PM. Cost is $80 for adults and $48 for kids ages 3-11.
California Grill, located atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, is well known for fine dining and spectacular views. A divine spot for sushi, steak, and fabulous cocktails, the restaurant began serving brunch in February for the first time in its 20-year history.
Considering the reputation of California Grill, I didn’t even glance at the menu before booking an Advance Dining Reservation. I thought brunch would be top notch, and had high hopes that I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Upon arriving at the Contemporary Resort, we were directed to Valet Parking where a Cast Member was waiting to greet us. After a quick trip to the second floor check-in desk we were whisked away in a private elevator to the 15th floor. We walked towards the abundant light streaming in through the enormous windows, admiring the view beyond, and were given complimentary mimosas (and a children’s mimosa — or “faux-mosa” for my seven-year-old daughter) at the bar.
The spacious room was fairly quiet, with charming music being played on piano and double bass.
We were seated at a window table with an expansive view of Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon that never gets old.
Moments later, our server arrived and explained the menu. Brunch at the Top is part buffet, part table service.
We explored the bountiful buffet before selecting our entrées, as suggested. A make-your-own Bloody Mary Bar is the first stop. You get to choose your vodka, hot sauce (they have nearly a dozen), and garnishes.
I ordered mine with Absolut Peppar and Scorpion Sting sauce, garnished with a jumbo shrimp, chorizo, brie cubes, candied bacon, and blue cheese-stuffed olives staked onto a celery tree. A feast in a glass!
A selection of cheeses and charcuterie is next: Orange-Honey Ham, Beef Sausage, Bison and Sweetbread Terrine, and accompaniments including Whole-Grain Mustard and Sweet Onion Jam. Made in-house, each was delightful, but the Bison and Sweetbread Terrine was my favorite.
I added a bit of honeycomb that I mooched from the yogurt station (my favorite accompaniment to any cheese board). The terrine was melt in your mouth with a creamy texture, and I helped myself to more after my entrée!
A sampling of the famous California Grill sushi was next, starting with the simple but very tasty California Rolls with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat. Salmon, Tuna, and Hamachi Nigiri, Spicy Tuna Tekka Maka Rolls, and Shrimp Tempura finished out the selection. Wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce set-ups were available by the plates (which I forgot, but the sushi was so delicious they were unnecessary). The ample selections available on the buffet could have easily made a meal, but I was looking forward to my pancakes.
Back at our table (with its unsurpassed view), we found a pastry board with a croissant, pecan sticky bun, country cheddar biscuit, and huckleberry muffins. My daughter and I had different favorites, so we didn’t have to share (but of course we could have requested more had we wanted!). House-Made Jam and Orange Blossom Honey Butter were served on the side, and each was lovely with the sweet breads.
I ordered the Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote and Canadian Maple Syrup, and my daughter altered the Shrimp and Grits to an Eggs and Grits entrée. There is no specific children’s menu for brunch, so kids order from the adult menu (with substitutions, if desired). We continued to nibble on our smorgasbord while listening to classic Disney renditions. I snapped this picture when they were playing Part of Your World from… well, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you !
The Deviled Lake Meadow Farm Eggs were creamy (and gone in two bites), and the Baby Iceberg Wedge Salad with Marinated Tomatoes, Cherrywood Bacon, and Avocado-Buttermilk Ranch Dressing was fresh and tangy.
My daughter really enjoyed the Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries and Vanilla-scented Granola.
Although all of the specialty cocktails sounded delicious, I ordered an Elderflower Gin and Tonic, made with Hendrick’s Gin, St-Germaine Liqueur, and Fever-Tree Tonic. Absolutely delightful and refreshing!
The Eggs and Grits were buttery and flavorful and my daughter ate it right up. My Pancakes, which came highly recommended from a diner at the next table, were fluffy and filling, and I topped each bite with a little blueberry compote and vanilla custard.
We played a few rounds of Uno before indulging in a Dessert Plate with Macarons, Madeleines, Strawberry Jam Linzer Cookies, and Chocolate Toffee Brittle.
Quite full, we took a stroll out to the rooftop deck for an unobstructed view of Magic Kingdom, and to take the ubiquitous photo from that perfect spot. The cerulean sky and cumulus clouds cooperated wonderfully.
Just like with an early dinner seating, you may return later to watch Wishes from the rooftop deck by bringing your receipt to the California Grill check-in desk on the 2nd floor.
Though no specific allergy menu is available, the talented chefs at California Grill are more than capable of accommodating special dietary requests. Additional entrées are available, either as a second serving or as a replacement. Tables in Wonderland is accepted, and two table service credits are required if using the Disney Dining Plan.
An elegant and relaxed affair, California Grill Brunch at the Top was an enchanting way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Extravagant fare plus an exquisite view… What could be better? Cheers!
Please share your thoughts on this California Grill experience with a comment below!