Guest Review: Brunch at the Top at California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

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.

Atmosphere

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.

Complimentary Mimosas

Complimentary Mimosas

The spacious room was fairly quiet, with charming music being played on piano and double bass.

Musicians

Musicians

We were seated at a window table with an expansive view of Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon that never gets old.

Seating

Seating

The view that never gets old

The view that never gets old

Eats

Moments later, our server arrived and explained the menu. Brunch at the Top is part buffet, part table service.

Brunch Menu

Brunch Menu

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.

Bloody Mary Bar Garnishes

Bloody Mary Bar Garnishes

More Bloody Mary Garnishes

More Bloody Mary Garnishes

Scorpion Sting and other hot sauces

Scorpion Sting and other hot sauces

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!

My Bloody Mary

My Bloody Mary

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.

Charcuterie Station

Charcuterie Station

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!

My cheese and charcuterie choices

My cheese and charcuterie choices

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.

Sushi

Sushi

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.

Pastry Board

Pastry Board

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 ;) !

Lovely music

Lovely music

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.

Baby Iceberg Wedge Salad

Baby Iceberg Wedge Salad

My daughter really enjoyed the Greek Yogurt with Mixed Berries and Vanilla-scented Granola.

Greek Yogurt Station

Greek Yogurt Station

Yogurt with Mixed Berries and Granola

Yogurt with Mixed Berries and 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!

Elderflower Gin and Tonic

Elderflower Gin and Tonic

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.

Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote and Canadian Maple Syrup

Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote and Canadian Maple Syrup

We played a few rounds of Uno before indulging in a Dessert Plate with Macarons, Madeleines, Strawberry Jam Linzer Cookies, and Chocolate Toffee Brittle.

Dessert Plate

Dessert Plate

Enjoying dessert and Frozen Uno

Enjoying dessert and Frozen Uno

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.

View from rooftop deck

View from rooftop deck

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.

Overall

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!

Comments

  1. says

    I so wish they did this on Saturdays – our departure day is my mother-in-law’s birthday, and I really wanted to give her a special send-off! Oh well – Somoans and Tonga Toast at Kona will have to suffice.

  2. Sarah says

    Honestly, the brunches I’ve heard about at a couple of the Signature restaurants seemed kind of disappointing considering the cost. This one is much more in line with what I would have expected. Looks fantastic!

  3. Beth says

    This looks so good..Definitely going to try and get an ADR for my husbands birthday in May, he’s a massive bloody Mary fan! I’ve read on other reviews that the mimosa are bottomless, was this the case when you went or just the one on arrival? TIA

  4. Tarantula says

    Thank you for this great review. We are going to this brunch next weekend and I was hoping to read a recent review before then – perfect timing! Are the bloody marys included in the cost of the meal or are they ordered as extra like the other drinks on the menu? We have “free” dining which is helping to justify the cost of all these crazy delicious meals we have planned. Can’t wait!!

  5. Tarantula says

    Beth – Thank you! For me I think it will be worth it, especially coz all those toppings will be an appetizer in themselves haha! But for my hubby who doesn’t particularly care for BMs I’ll make sure he sticks to the complimentary mimosa! :)

  6. Georgeanne says

    We were lucky enough to enjoy Brunch at the Top in August. It was amazing! We did not need to eat for the entire rest of the day. Not only were the mimosas unlimited, we were encouraged to take one in a plastic cup “for the road”.

  7. Lisa says

    If I read it correctly, the pastry board was delivered to your table, not something you picked up from the buffet? Would it be okay to take any leftover pastries to go? I’d love to do this brunch but it just sounds like SO MUCH FOOD. I think I’d rather save room for the charcuterie and sushi, but it would be a shame to let the pastries go to waste.

  8. Erin says

    I wasn’t too sure about this when I first heard about it, but I didn’t even finish the review before I booked it! WOW!! Looks amazing. Love the guys playing music, nice touch. I did the Narcoossee’s brunch last year and loved it, but this really looks like what I would imagine for an $80 meal. I booked it on SuperBowl Sunday coincidentally, so looking forward to that day of fun. :) :)

  9. Beth says

    Glad to see the recent review!!!! Although every one I have read has been fantastic. We are staying at Contemporary for our 30th anniversary next month and have booked this brunch for our last day of the trip!!! Absolutely cannot wait!

  10. Krystal says

    My husband and I enjoyed brunch at the Contemporary in July for our anniversary, it was truly wonderful! He also had the blueberry pancakes and loved them, I had the eggs benedict with the lobster and it was so delicious. We have another reservation made for my birthday in October and I can’t wait!

    Lisa- Yes you can take the pastries with you, we took ours and even asked for a few extra macaroons from the dessert plate which were gladly given to us to take home.

  11. RB says

    Your pricing information is [now] incorrect. Kids aged 10 and up are now charged the full price (as I learned to my sorrow last Sunday).

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