Guest Review: Califonia Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

The California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort has re-opened with a new menu and revitalized decor. This week, guest author Paul Kuconis returns with a review from this Walt Disney World restaurant.

My daughter and I last ate at California Grill in May 2012, seated in the Wine Room overlooking Wilderness Lodge and Epcot in the distance. The meal, as usual (and expected) was superb! Soon after this the restaurant was closed for a remodel. And the wait began.

When I found out (in early September, I believe) that California Grill was accepting Advance Dining Reservations I thought I would give it a shot for our October visit. I was able to grab the date and time I wanted. AWESOME!!

So off we head on the boat from Wilderness Lodge to the Contemporary.

From the Boat Dock

You can’t beat this view of the Contemporary right around dusk! Red sky at night, Sailor’s delight. We are in for a nice day tomorrow.

Atmosphere

The reception desk is now on the right of the elevator banks, moved from the left.

Reception Signage

Right off the elevator — the first new element I saw was the immense wine cooler.

The Wine Cooler

As we waited for our table we took in the sights.

A Nice Spot to Watch the Fireworks

The results of the remodel look fantastic and the contemporary theme was carried throughout. The bar has a nice clean look to it with illuminated shelving and neatly arranged bottles.

The Bar

The open concept seating remained, providing good views out all the windows.

The Dining Area

Even the light fixtures carry the ‘contemporary theme’, right down to different colored globes!

Contemporary-Themed Light Fixtures

It was nice to see that the open kitchen concept was maintained through the remodel. I enjoy watching the chefs prepare the offerings. And it is done with Military precision. No ‘Hells’ Kitchen’ theatrics here!

Open Kitchen

You can’t beat white tablecloths and sharp, branded linen napkins. Classy!

A nicely set table

OK, enough of the Atmosphere. We came to eat!

Eats

Now the fun begins. The menu logo mirrors the signage we saw at the reception desk.

The Menu

My daughter and I selected a bottle of Landmark Vineyards Overlook Chardonnay. The vineyard is located in Kenwood in the heart of Sonoma (along with Napa and Mendocino) in the North Coast wine region of California. Also in keeping with the California theme.

Chardonnay Choices

We made a nice choice. We noticed aromas of dried pit fruits, melon, honey, and tarragon. It was very fruity, with a nice finishing warmth and lingering spiciness.

The Wine

A Nice Pour

Luckily we got rolls and butter and that gave me something to eat while I perused the menu.

Rolls and Butter

As usual with Disney, they are not just ‘rolls and butter’. We had a choice of sourdough rolls (my favorite and a staple of San Francisco) and focaccia. The butter was topped with sea salt and a lavender blossom. Visually, perfect! This is important as we ‘see’ the food before we eat it.

The crunchiness of the salt worked well with the butter and spread that on the sourdough roll — it doesn’t get any better. At least until the appetizer arrives!

Appetizer and entrée selections proved to be very difficult. To me, that is the sign of a well thought out menu. So many choices, so little time!

I like to try items I have never had and the [Read more…]

Guest Review: Citricos at Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort

The Grand Floridian Resort is home to several fine dining experiences. Today, guest author Rebecca Dolan reviews the resort’s Citricos restaurant.

I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on Citricos all these years.

My family and I tend to shy away from Disney’s fine dining experiences. Truth be told, we’re often just too tired (read: lazy) to put on “real” clothes after a day at the parks. But, this meal is even worth putting on your nice khakis for.

Atmosphere

Citricos is set on the second floor of Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort at the back of the main building, where it shares a check-in foyer with Victoria & Albert’s.

A set of iron gates is an artistic touch to delineate the waiting area from the bar and dining room.

The gates to Citricos

Fun gate detail

Past them is the first dining area and bar. This is bordered by large windows overlooking the rest of the hotel and the Seven Seas Lagoon to the right, with a large wine room, bar, and display kitchen to the left. A bit further back is a glass-and-wood enclosed “chef’s domain” — a private dining rom.

The bar

Front part of the dining room, with tons of natural light

Entrance to the glass-enclosed private dining room

The rear part of the dining room is perhaps what Citricos is known for architecturally. The round room is enclosed by what are essentially floor-to-ceiling windows, offering an amazing view of the property, the lagoon, and even part of the Magic Kingdom.

Round dining room, again with no shortage of a view

Looking out over the Grand Floridian

Though it’s a bit obstructed, you can even catch a glimpse of the [Read more…]

Guest Review: Epcot’s Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room

Today we are welcoming guest author Rebecca Dolan with a dining review of the Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room. Read on…

When it comes to Epcot’s Rose & Crown, the mantra should be “come for the fireworks, stay for the food.” Sure the menu of British comfort classics has always been on point, but the real draw here has to be the restaurant’s back patio, which offers one of the best fireworks views on the shores of the World Showcase Lagoon.

This combination of no-frills British food and fireworks made Rose & Crown both one of my mother’s favorite Disney spots, and the bane of the Epcot trips of my youth. (Ugh, do we have to watch the fireworks again? I want to eat in Morocco!) But, Rose & Crown and I have come a long way over the past years. And, I now fully support adding it to a Disney dining itinerary.

Atmosphere

The first thing you’ll probably notice about Rose & Crown is that it isn’t built in just one architectural style. Instead, the building is a mash-up of three different, popular pub styles.

The building’s three sides at Rose and Crown.

The main entrance leads into a full-service pub where you can belly up to the bar for traditional beers, ciders, and scotches from the UK. A handful of tables provide a much-needed respite from the afternoon sun.

Stopping in for an evening pint.

Outside the pub entrance, to the left, is the check in booth for the dining room. Seating is either on the outdoor patio overlooking the lagoon, or inside the main dining room. Try your best to score an outdoor table if you can (back patio is better than side patio) for the fireworks view.

This will likely prove to be a difficult endeavor, however. After close to three decades of dining here, this trip was the first time our family was actually seated outside.

Get a load of that view!

Now, don’t let that get you discouraged! Even if you can’t get the coveted front row seats, those eating inside are allowed [Read more…]

Full Review: The NEW California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Update: Scroll to the end of the Eats section (yep, waaayyy down there!) for a mini-review of opening night, courtesy of one of our favorite DFB guest writers, Julie B!

We are headed back to the fifteenth floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort today, as we take a closer look at the brand new California Grill!

The outpouring of Disney food fan love has just been astounding throughout the last eight months as we’ve continued to watch the newly re-imagined California Grill take shape. Folks who love the restaurant and its amazing menu have been anxious for news. Would it retain its panache? Would beloved dishes from the old menu make the cut? How would we survive with no Yoshie??

We are happy to report that, if possible, California Grill is even more spectacular than before. We were happy to show you a first look at all that was new after last Thursday’s media event. Today, we’re unveiling more details. If you haven’t already, get ready to make those advance dining reservations. I think you’re going to like what you see.

Menus

Settle in. This is going to be a long one!

Atmosphere

Immediately, as you step out of the elevator onto the fifteenth floor, you are enveloped by the cool vibe of California Grill. You know at once that you’re in for a special experience.

If you weren’t aware of it already, now you know: wine matters in this restaurant. A lot. Wine coolers aren’t dressed up to be anything else; they’re unapologetically part of the decor here. This makes sense, as the restaurant now boasts 1,600 bottles of wine in the state-of-the-art wine display.

You’ll find around 250 wines on the list, with 80 available by the glass. And with more than 20 sommeliers on staff, you are literally enveloped in a wealth of wine knowledge.

Wine, Anyone?

Straight ahead, you’ll find the trademark view of Seven Seas Lagoon. With any luck there will be a spectacular sunset over the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa during your visit like there was for ours.

This area continues to serve as the lounge for the restaurant. You can still score a table here with no advance dining reservation, and the full restaurant menu is available for ordering.

Entrance and Bank of Wine Fridges

The bar area continues to be highlighted by the ceiling’s circular cutout. While the shape is the same, the whole bar has been overhauled with new finishes. Comfortable seating beckons you to relax and have a cocktail or two.

Bar

To quote one of my Disney friends, nothing here is the same as it was! The lights are wonderfully whimsical. While modern, there’s still a retro feel here. In fact, the lights remind me a lot of old pictures I’ve seen of the Contemporary from the 1970s.

Seating Area is Ready for Guests

Tables are set for service. I was glad to see that the [Read more…]

What’s Your Disney “First Day Tradition?”

It’s time to talk Disney trip traditions!!! Over the years, my “first day at Disney” traditions have changed and evolved. But there’s nothing like looking forward to that thing you love to do first when you get to Disney World or Disneyland.

So my question for you today is this: Do you have a favorite “Welcome to Disney” tradition that you always look forward to? Let us know in the comments below — I might just have to change mine once I get inspired by a few of yours!

In the interest of fairness, I’ll share one of mine, too… :-)

Take a Deep Breath and Enjoy the View

One of my favorite “first night traditions” in Disney World is shaking off the stress of travel with a deep breath and a relaxing view. The best place to do this in my opinion? Disney’s Polynesian Resort!

I usually choose one of two options once I get there: Either lounge in a comfy, wicker chair at the Tambu Lounge, or head to ‘Ohana for a sunset dinner! (And sometimes I do both!)

Tambu Sign

“The Poly” offers lots of choices for [Read more…]

Review: DFB Snack Attack IllumiNations Dessert Party (Save the Date for our October Event!)

I’m excited to say that we just had another awesome Disney Food Blog Snack Attack and IllumiNations Dessert Party a couple of weeks ago!!

Watching Illuminations from a VIP location and eating Disney desserts? Yes, please!

It was so much fun to meet so many Disney Food Blog readers and supporters, and we lucked out with absolutely beautiful weather in Epcot for our VIP IllumiNations Dessert Party. Thank you all for coming!

The sun sets as we wait for the party to begin!

What’s Snack Attack?

Just in case you’re new to DFB, our Snack Attack events are special ticket-only evenings where we combine:

  • Our favorite Disney World snacks from all over the parks and resorts, AND
  • A private, VIP viewing area for IllumiNations, Reflections of Earth — the Epcot fireworks spectacular!

If you want to attend our next Snack Attack, save the date for October 2, 2013!! Tickets will go on sale soon!

One of several dessert tables weighed down with goodies for us!

Whaddya Eat at Snack Attack?

Well, we eat all of my favorite snacks…and DFB readers seem to like ‘em, too! These are served throughout the event, and are all-you-can-eat! Here’s a little sampling of some of the goodies…

Carrot Cake Cookies from Writer’s Stop in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (filled with gobs of cream cheese frosting!)

Writer's Stop Carrot Cake Cookies

Close Up of a Carrot Cake Cookie!

Zebra Domes from Animal Kingdom Lodge

Animal Kingdom Lodge Zebra Domes

School Bread from Epcot’s Norway pavilion

Epcot Norway School Bread

Butterfinger Cupcakes from Starring Rolls [Read more…]

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Monsieur Paul, La Hacienda de San Angel, or Splitsville in Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is gearing up for festive celebrations on New Year’s Eve!

With the announcement of two specialty dinners at Monsieur Paul and La Hacienda de San Angel, guests wanting to ring in the New Year at Epcot may want to check out these events. Why choose one of these restaurants? They both provide Epcot guests with a view of fireworks!

Or perhaps you’d rather enjoy the evening knocking down some pins and great eats at Downtown Disney’s Splitsville!

Monsieur Paul

Formerly Bistro de Paris, the newly opened Monsieur Paul Restaurant experienced extensive renovations and the unveiling of the Monsieur Paul menu.

Monsieur Paul Restauarant in Epcot's France

Cost for the New Year’s Eve event here is $195 per person for food only; $275 per person with wine pairings. See the four course dinner menu to be prepared by chef Francesco Santin below:

Monsieur Paul Restaurant New Year’s Eve Menu

Amuse-Bouche
Champagne

Hors d’Oeuvre
Tarte Aux Truffes Noir: Warm black truffle and artichoke tart OR
Salade De Homard: Maine lobster served cold with tomato confit, lime vinaigrette
Pouilly-Fuisse, P. Bouchard 2008

Poisson
Bar Sauvage Americain, Sauce Au Champagne: Seared wild strip bass with [Read more…]

You Know You’re Eating In Disney World When…

Let’s face it. There are a few foodie experiences at Walt Disney World and Disneyland that we don’t normally find at our hometown restaurants!

We thought it would be fun to put a few “You know you’re eating in Disney World when…” thoughts together, and we’d love to hear your additions!

Leave us a comment with your own “You know you’re eating in Disney World or Disneyland when…” experience! ;-)

You Know You’re Eating In Disney World When…

There are strangers eating in the back seat of your car.

Who's in the Back Seat?!?

You memorize the color of the soap in the bathroom while your kids willingly set the table.

Setting the table

You can’t wait to take a bite out of a mouse ear.

That's better!

You get bragging rights for eating dinner while watching fireworks.

Fireworks and castle from Narcoossees

You ask a yellow bear if [Read more…]

Guest Review: Disneyland’s Fantasmic! Premium Viewing Dessert Package

Heather Sievers, a Disneyland food expert, Mom, and inventor of Time Out Spots, is back with another great Disneyland review! Today she’s sharing her experience at the Fantasmic! Premium Viewing Dessert Event! Take it away, Heather!

Disneyland's Fantasmic Dragon

As an annual pass holder for over 15 years, it’s a little embarrassing to say that I had never seen the whole Fantasmic show, until now!

Atmosphere
The crowd has always turned me off; they send out the cast members waving their light sticks in their yellow Fantasmic uniforms way before the show starts and the sea of people makes it impossible to get a good standing position unless you’re willing to plant yourself and stake a claim a few hours before the show starts. There are one-way walk ways, people telling you where to walk and where not to walk, the whole scene is pretty wild. Not interested in the chaos? Me neither.

So, as a special treat, I bought my family Fantasmic premium viewing tickets and it was amazing! We knew that the tickets came with great seats and dessert, but we had no idea how elaborate the [Read more…]

Rose and Crown Review

I have a love/hate relationship with Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room, and I’m currently in love. Blissful, British-y love.

Atmosphere
This tidy little pub and dining room set on prime World Showcase Lagoon real estate really does approximate a pub you’d find in the UK today. Although I’m not sure they have pub quizzes…which they should have. Does anyone know if the Rose and Crown has pub quizzes?

View from Pub into Dining Room

The site is split between the pub, which sits on the street-side of the building, and the dining room, which sits on the lagoon side of the building. The two have separate entrances; to head into the pub, use one of the front doors on the street-side of the building. To check-in for a [Read more…]