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. [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-up: August 28, 2016

Happy weekend! We hope you’re having a wonderful, relaxing weekend! Now it’s time to grab a cup of tea (or coffee), sit back, and check out the latest in Disney food news!

Nutella Brownie Sundae

Nutella Brownie Sundae

Perhaps the most exciting news right now is that we’re less than three weeks away from the start of the 2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival! If you’re headed to this year’s Festival you should definitely check out these grown-up frozen drinks!

We have a lot to share with you this week, so let’s jump right in…

Disney Food News

[Read more…]

Best Kept Disney Dining Secrets: Saving Money in Disney World

We are back with some of our very best kept Disney Dining Secrets. And we want to share them with you!

2016 book cover dfb guide

Planning where you’ll be spending your food budget in Disney World is a BIG deal. There are so many choices to make! Maybe you’re worried about getting the advance dining reservations you’d like the most. And what about your favorite brands and foods? Will they have them?

These are all great questions, and we address them all in our DFB Guide to WDW Dining e-Book! But today, we’re exploring one of the biggest concerns: Is it possible to save a buck or two when you’re at Disney?

Secrets to Saving Money in Disney World

Today, we’ll share some of our favorite ways to save money during your visit to Walt Disney World. And if you like what you see here, be sure to check out even more secrets in the brand new DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, 2016 Edition, where we gather over 530 pages of tips, recommendations, and secrets to make your Disney trip the best ever!

Here we go!

Ditch Unwanted Sides

I love this tip, and it can save you some serious cash (and calories!). You may think the price printed on the menu board or in the menu is non-negotiable. But we’ve got a secret to share!

Did you know that you can often forego unwanted sides? For instance, say you order a sandwich that comes with fries, but you don’t really want them. Ask if you can order your sandwich as an entree only and save!

Cheeseburger at Backlot Express!

Cheeseburger at Backlot Express!

And if you’re a light eater, or someone who doesn’t really care about (or literally can’t EAT) that side of salad/chips/fries/coleslaw/pasta salad, then you’ll never miss it.

[Read more…]

News: Chef Changes at Disney World Signature Restaurants

There’s big news this week regarding chefs at some popular signature dining restaurants throughout Walt Disney World! Chef shakeups at three spots may mean changes at some of your favorites. Read on for all of the details.

Chef Yuhi Fujinaga Takes on Role of Executive Chef at Morimoto Asia

Earlier this week, Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Patina Restaurant Group announced that Chef Yuhi Fujinaga had taken on the role of executive chef at Disney Springs’ Morimoto Asia.

Yuhi Fujinag, Morimoto Asia's New Executive Chef (Photo ©Morimoto Asia)

Yuhi Fujinag, Morimoto Asia’s New Executive Chef (Photo ©Morimoto Asia)

Chef Yuhi first met the famous Iron Chef and restaurant mogul early in his career. “I met Chef Morimoto as a young chef in Hawaii, where I grew up. We bonded quickly over our love of fresh fish, big flavors and new cooking techniques,” said Chef Yuhi. [Read more…]

Recommended Disney Dining Plan Two-Credit Restaurants

We get a lot of questions from readers here at DFB asking if the Disney Dining Plan is a good deal. One part of answering this question is doing the cut and dry calculations based upon a restaurant’s offerings. But the other part is determining if the restaurant is a good fit for your family. (For example, if Yachtsman Steakhouse offers a great bang for your buck when using the Dining Plan, but you’re a family of vegetarians, it probably isn’t the best choice! ;-D)

We were curious to determine which Disney Signature Restaurants offered the best deal or value pricewise — but also could be recommended by the experts here at DFB for atmosphere and food quality.

Disney Dining Plan 2 Credit Restaurants

Here are our picks for the restaurants that offer the best value for your 2-credit Disney Dining Plan slots.

[Read more…]

News: Disney World’s California Grill to Offer “Brunch at the Top” Starting February 2016

Great news if you’re a fan of California Grill, Sunday Brunch — or both!

Coming on the heels of the announcement that Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian would begin offering a Sunday brunch, now we are hearing that California Grill will do the same.

The popular signature restaurant, which sits atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, has been a dinner-only spot since opening in the 1990s. But as Disney World continues to expand hours in table service restaurants across property, it looks like California Grill will soon join the trend.

The experience promises to be a hybrid of sorts. If you’d like, you can choose to begin your meal with something to drink. Options include both mocktails and cocktails, or indulge in a trip to the Bloody Mary Bar.

Bloody Marys from the Bloody Mary Bar

Bloody Marys from the Bloody Mary Bar

Guests begin their meal with house made Breakfast Pastries and Breads. Assortments will include Caramel Apple Monkey Bread, Cranberry Pecan Scones, and Tillamook Cheddar Biscuits, accompanied by Jam made from scratch and Orange Blossom Honey Butter. [Read more…]

New Year’s Eve Events at Walt Disney World to Ring in 2016

Have you made your New Year’s Eve plans yet???

New Year's Eve Toast

New Year’s Eve Toast

Yeah, me neither. But believe it or not, it’s not too soon to start making plans… if you’re planning on ringing in 2016 at Walt Disney World, that is!

In addition to regular dining opportunities in the parks and resorts, special dining events will once again be offered for guests looking for some unique ways to celebrate, and the options appear to have expanded from last year’s offerings.

As you might anticipate, Epcot tops the list for most guests hoping to ring in the new year in one of the parks, thanks to extra special entertainment throughout the day as well as an extended version of the Illuminations Nighttime Spectacular, so the bulk of special New Year’s options take place throughout World Showcase.

However, a few of the Resort restaurants are planning celebrations of their own as well. Here’s the festive rundown (so far! It’s always possible that other events may yet be in store…)

New Year’s Eve at Epcot World ShowPlace

Returning to Epcot this year is the New Year’s Eve at Epcot World ShowPlace dining event. Once again, the event will feature buffet dining set to classic Disney music, and will also feature vignettes for fun photo opps to remember the celebration. [Read more…]

Review: California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Time to check in on one of Walt Disney World’s most popular signature dining spots — California Grill.

Located atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the Grill has become nearly as well known for its stellar views as its market-inspired food. And those two factors can make this a tough table to book.

My last visit here, however, when the restaurant had just reopened after an in-depth refurbishment, was somewhat disappointing. At the time, I chalked it up to the kitchen having an off night; after all, I had enjoyed incredible dining here many times before.

I decided it was time to check in again. So we booked an early Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) on a recent visit, and up we went.

Atmosphere

If you’ve never visited California Grill, then there’s one thing you should know: you don’t just head to the 15th floor. Your journey actually starts on the 2nd floor of the Contemporary where you check in. Even if you’re just heading to the first-come, first-served Lounge, this is your first stop.

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

Second Floor Check In Desk for California Grill

You’ll then be escorted via a private elevator to the 15th floor. In this way, staff act as gatekeepers for the popular spot. If left unattended, it would get pretty busy up there, especially around Wishes-at-Magic-Kingdom time.

Once you make your way upstairs, a bank of Wine Fridges greets you straight ahead.

Entrance and Wine Fridges

Entrance and Wine Fridges

You walk through the Lounge and Bar to get to the restaurant’s main seating area. That sounds as though these are different spaces; they aren’t. Basically, with the exception of a few private dining rooms, the restaurant features an open floor plan, accentuating the sweeping views and retro-meets-modern vibe.

California Grill Bar

California Grill Bar

If you find yourself without an ADR, there’s still hope. You can sit in the Grill’s Lounge and order from the menu, or just enjoy Drinks, Sushi, and Appetizers. Be forewarned, though: it’s not uncommon for this area to reach capacity as the night goes on. Here at 5PM, though, it was pretty bare.

California Grill Lounge

California Grill Lounge

Wrap around to the main seating area, and you see that nearly every table commands an excellent view of the surrounding landscape, including Magic Kingdom and the Resorts situated around Seven Seas Lagoon.

Seating varies here and includes both tables and chairs and booths.

Seating

Seating

There are also a selection of tables that mix banquette and chair seating. Note that white tablecloths and cloth napkins are the norm here, lending to the upscale air of sophistication.

Table for Two

Table for Two

Booths are somewhat unique in that they are located in the middle of the floor. That means that you can enter from either side, and there will be traffic on both sides of your table, similar to what you find at Jiko. While this isn’t necessarily bad, it does mean that your booth won’t be as secluded as you might like.

But the view outside of the windows isn’t the only thing you have to look at.

California Grill Kitchen

California Grill Kitchen

The well-orchestrated, professional hustle and bustle that’s happening behind the counter in the on-stage kitchen can be fascinating as well.

Prepping for Dinner Service

Prepping for Dinner Service

Although we will focus today on the food here, the sweeping, panoramic vistas certainly bear mentioning. You can see for miles!

The View

The View

And that’s one of the biggest draws of California Grill — this view, especially when it comes to [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: April 12, 2015

Happy Sunday, everyone! We’ve got some awesome news for you this week about the menu we’ll see when Boathouse opens at Disney Springs in Disney World in the very near future. Rumors place the soft opening for walk-ups only starting April 13, and Cast Member previews are already taking place.

Check out the Amphicar Tours you might get to take on your next visit!

Amphicar Tours at The Boathouse

Amphicar Tours at The Boathouse

Until then, let’s take a look at all the news we reported on this week. For more details on the above news and more, just click on the links below!

Disney Food News

Check out every tidbit of the latest Disney Food News — even the stuff we don’t mention in posts on the blog! — on our Disney Food News Pin Board, including menu updates, restaurant closures, special events, and more!

We’ve got all the latest for you, so check it out before you go.

DFB Reader Finds

If you find a fun new food — or other edible awesomeness — in or about Disney, share a photo with us on facebook or twitter so we can add it to our DFB Reader Finds each Sunday!

Today, we’re featuring entrees from some of Disney’s most beloved Signature spots! Jace Heiden shared with us “The beautiful bison striploin with a side of the heavenly tomato risotto from the famous filet at California Grill! [It’s the] Best of both worlds.” I agree!!

Bison Striploin with a Side of Tomato Risotto at California Grill

Bison Striploin with a Side of Tomato Risotto at California Grill

Kelly Patton and family had a chance to dine in Le Cellier Steakhouse, and they loved everything about the experience — especially the Kurobuta Pork!

Kurobuta Pork at Le Cellier Steakhouse

Kurobuta Pork at Le Cellier Steakhouse

Do you have a favorite Disney Food find? Share your photos with us!

Deal of the Week: The FULLY UPDATED DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book, 2015-16 Edition

Magic Kingdom Snacks are some of our favorite treats in all the World! And in fact, many of them can just about amount to a meal. And those are just a couple of the reasons we are so excited to announce that the 2015-16 Edition of The DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book is now available!

To celebrate the 2015-16 launch of this important book, we have a great discount for you! Our readers can get the new guide for $3 off the purchase price for a limited time — just use code MK15 at the check-out!

It’s time to snag your copy! Here are the details.

The Disney Food Blog Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book

The DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book is one of the many fun and informative Disney Dining e-Books offered by Disney Food Blog!

Now we’ve updated our best-selling DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book for 2015-16 with even more great information, photos, and…yep!…snacks (about 30 more than the 2014 edition)!

Don’t Miss Out on the Best Snacks in the Magic Kingdom!

This guide is guaranteed to help you find the best snacks and treats (even mini-meals!) for your family while visiting the Magic Kingdom — or we’ll refund the purchase price. We all know that treats at Magic Kingdom are just as nostalgic as our first flight on Dumbo!

The DFB Guide to Magic Kingdom Snacks e-Book includes: [Read more…]

News! Enjoy “Eat Local Week” in Disney World

Fun news for those of you visiting Disney World this week!

EatLocalWeek Orlando Logo

Slow Food Orlando is sponsoring Eat Local Week in The City Beautiful — and it’s happening right now!

While the event showcases eating, drinking, and shopping local throughout the Central Florida Region, there are opportunities to celebrate local growers and producers by dining in some of our favorite Disney Restaurants.

Enjoy menus featuring locally-sourced ingredients all this week, showcasing ingredients from Florida farms, ranches, and fisheries.

And the list of participating Disney restaurants includes some of our tried and true favorites. Choose from The Wave…of American Flavors or California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We’ve enjoyed delicious seasonal dishes in both.

California Grill view

A Beautiful View and the Season’s Best Flavors at California Grill

At Disney’s Grand Floridian, dine slow-food style at the beautiful Citricos. Or hop over to Disney’s BoardWalk for dinner at Flying Fish Cafe — hands down, one of my absolute favorite spots! (Read our latest review of Flying Fish here.)

Crab Cake

The Flying Fish Cafe is Always an Excellent Choice, Especially for Seafood, Like Their Killer Crabcakes

But we aren’t finished! Yachtsman Steakhouse, known for perfectly prepared steaks and seasonally-inspired sides, will also be participating. Finally, end your Eat Local tour at [Read more…]