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Today, we’re welcoming Alex F. with a signature dining review. Alex takes us with her to the top of the Contemporary Resort for dinner at the California Grill! Let’s go…
I have been to Disney World over 20 times and I have always wanted to write a review. So, finally I decided that on my latest trip, I would take pictures and review California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. I hope that this review is helpful and enjoyable!
California Grill, a signature dining restaurant located on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort, features unique views through the walls of windows and the two observation decks.
While dining here, you can either have close up aerial views of the Magic Kingdom from one side of the dining room, or distant views of Epcot and Hollywood Studios from the other (you can see Spaceship Earth, the Swan and Dolphin hotels, and even the Tower of Terror).
To access the California Grill, you must check-in on the 2nd floor to the right of the escalators. Years ago, you were able to simply go straight upstairs and check-in, but that has all changed. Now, once you have checked in, you can head over to a special elevator just for California Grill guests.
When you arrive upstairs, feel free to head over to the lounge/bar area to wait until your table is ready. At the lounge, you can order drinks and enjoy the 360 degree views of Walt Disney World.
My family and I went upstairs and sat in the lounge for a few minutes until we were ready to be seated. We had barely ordered drinks before our pager went off. This was probably the quickest we have ever been seated at the California Grill.
When seated, we were one table away from the window, towards the middle of the restaurant with a wonderful view of the Magic Kingdom.
In between courses, I went outside onto the observation deck to look at the Fantasyland expansion and to enjoy the Magic Kingdom view. I couldn’t get a great picture of the view, but you could see the crane, the Beast’s castle, and some of the Little Mermaid attraction.
Once we were seated, I could not wait to start looking over the menu and ordering food!
The menu at the California Grill is constantly changing, so even if you have looked at the most recent menu on the Disney World website it may be different than the one at the restaurant when you arrive.
While looking at the menu and deciding which enticing appetizer and entrée to order, we enjoyed eating some of the bread and salted butter. The bread has a sourdough taste, but it is not too strong. And the salted butter is the perfect accompaniment.
The bread and butter is so good, that you cannot just eat one piece!
To start our meal, my family chose three different appetizers; Handmade Potato Gnocchi, Hearts of Romaine, and the Southern Style Crab and Tomato Salad.
My mom ordered the Southern Style crab and tomato salad. The fried green tomatoes were perfectly coated, which made the taste of the dish! The crab sat atop the fried green tomatoes with a drizzling of the remoulade sauce, which was spicy but not too overpowering.
My youngest sister ordered the potato gnocchi. She greatly enjoyed it and said that the gnocchi was “pillowy” and not tough, which can be a problem with some gnocchi. With the poached egg was separated, it made the dish very filling and rich.
There were a lot of mushrooms, but overall this dish was a huge hit with my sister and everyone who tried it at the table!
Finally, I ordered the Hearts of Romaine salad. It comes with a Roasted Garlic dressing, Olives, and Marinated Anchovies. I had the anchovies removed only because I simply do not like them. But, the salad itself was enjoyable.
I am not a huge fan of olives and the flavor at times penetrated the taste of the salad. But, overall, I find this one of the best salads in Disney World.
After enjoying our appetizers, we were ready to enjoy our entrees! At the table, we ordered the Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Oak-fired Filet of Beef, and the Local Black Grouper. The Pork Tenderloin and the Oak-Fired Filet of Beef are two entrees that never leave the menu. The Filet of Beef will change the side dishes at times, but for as long as I can remember the pork tenderloin entrée has not changed its side dishes.
My youngest sister and I ordered the Grilled Pork Tenderloin. I have had this entrée many times and every time it is exactly the same and completely delectable! The Zinfandel glaze is a perfect sauce to put with the pork.
The polenta that comes with the pork is good. I do not usually like polenta, but the goat cheese polenta has a good flavor and it compliments the pork and the Zinfandel glaze. Even though I always order the Grilled Pork Tenderloin, I wish they put potatoes with it instead.
My dad and my other sister ordered the Oak Fired Filet of Beef. Even though I have never tried this entrée, I have heard multiple times that this is the greatest beef dish! The filet of beef was cooked perfectly to order. The Teriyaki Barbecue sauce was tangy and memorable, but a little sparse. The truffle potatoes had a very rich flavor to them. The asparagus were cooked a little softer than al dente, which he considered perfect.
My mom ordered the Local Black Grouper. The fish was delicious and was perfectly crusted, which added a good amount of crunch to the dish. Unfortunately, the shrimp dumplings were described as chewy and not having a great deal of shrimp flavor.
Finally, it was time to order dessert. We were completely full, but we decided to order two desserts; the Valrhona Chocolate Cake and the Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding.
The Valrhona Chocolate Cake was delicious! The cake itself was moist and had plenty of chocolate. This is the California Grill’s most popular dessert. It was so delicious that I forgot to take a picture before we began digging in!
The Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding was incredible. It was accompanied by Chocolate Malt Ice Cream and pieces of Toffee Pretzel. The bread pudding itself was chocolatey and moist. The toffee pretzels added a crunch to the otherwise smooth dish.
The dish was much more beautiful before I took the picture, but it was too enticing that I took a bite before I remembered to take a photo!
After finishing our entire meal, we decided that this was an absolutely delicious trip to California Grill. The new dishes were just as good as the staple ones.
The restaurant offers amazing food with incredible views. While the price does not allow for multiple visits for most people, it is a must-go restaurant! I will always recommend it to anyone who wants a signature dining experience.
Have you been to California Grill? Let us know your feedback in the comments below!
REMEMBER: This restaurant will be closing temporarily in 2013, so book your reservations soon for the remaining days!