California Grill at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World was the flagship Disney Dining experience since it opened in 1995. Since then, Walt Disney World Resort has added many different flavors and experiences, but California Grill, perched high atop the Contemporary Resort, had stayed the same. Monday marked the opening of the Grand Re-Imagining of California Grill after a long rehab. What awaits guests is a new experience on all sides, from the food and decor, while keeping the amazing views, and signature service that the restaurant has always been known for.
The elevator ride is about all that remains the same, as you glide your way to the top of the hotel. Once the doors open, you are treated to a new world of color, light and food. We were able to participate in the Disney Parks Blog meet up, along with several other readers, and were invited out to a preview of grand proportions. While we did get to experience the flavors of the newly re-imagined California Grill, we didn’t get the whole experience. For that, you need reservations. What we were able to do was to sample a bit of everything that was fresh and new. The pictures that you see here are not full courses, but only samplings of what there is to offer. Also, the menu will change periodically throughout the year, depending on what’s fresh that season.
If you’re a lover of wine, California Grill is your place. They’ve expanded their selection with about 1,600 bottles available. In fact, the first thing you see, besides the all new paintings on the wall is the huge temperature controlled wine rack.
The new menu starts with unbelievable new appetizers. Three different types of meat, topped with a delicious chimichirri sauce make up the all new meatballs, a great new twist on a familiar favorite. There’s also grouper tacos, that have a hint of citrus on a warm cibatta flatbread. Top that off with a Saki-Martini and you have an amazing night of flavor ahead.
One of the absolute must try items is the oak-fired beef filet that comes drizzled with a creamy tomato based sauce on top of a creamy tomato risotto, surrounded by a balsamic drizzle that perfectly compliments each other. The filet is naturally melt in your mouth tender and is absolutely delectable.
Dessert is a big deal at the new California Grill as well. There is a large variety of different treats, including an all new sundae sampler (most of which pictured here) that combines fruity, sweet and salty with the finishing touch of ice cream and cola.
Desserts make a huge statement here, with every bite being more delectable than the last. On top of the great sundae sampler, there’s also the decadent chocolate pudding cake. Imagine a cake that has everything you wanted out of a chocolate cake…now imagine the magic of thick salted chocolate, creamy Nutella, a touch of mint, and a creamy meringue kiss…that is what awaits you. Even if you’re not a huge chocolate fan, it’s an amazing treat. However, our favorite has got to be the banana fritters. Think hush puppies made of sweet pancake batter, with molten bananas in the middle. Top it with a brulee marshmallow and a caramel drizzle. It’s not as thick as a hush puppy, nor is it as crunchy and sweet as churro. It’s a pleasant melding of the two.
Chat with the chefs behind the all new re-imagining:
There are also some vegetarian offerings, such as the squash ravioli. Very tangy and just the right mixture of sweet with a nice fresh pasta. The big change is that there is a huge selection of sushi and fresh fish. The seared halibut is very light and juicy, while the sushi offers a little something for all tastes. If you’re not into seafood, and still want to try the sushi experience,there is a pork sushi as well.
Take a walk and talk with some of the chefs responsible for the new experience:
Of course the real reason to visit the California Grill hasn’t changed. The view is just as spectacular as ever, only now there’s more of it. With huge floor to ceiling windows peering out over the Magic Kingdom you get a spectacular view of Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain. There is another all new observation area as well that gives you more of a view, stretching all the way to EPCOT.
Of course, it’s the perfect romantic spot to just watch the sun dip below the horizon. Catch a glimpse of the sun literally falling away in our video of the sunset from California Grill:
The view and the food isn’t the only thing that amazes. The California Grill has the signature Disney service down to a science. Our server Jenny was very attentive and gave us all sorts of information about not only the food, but the restaurant and happenings around the park.
See even more from the newly re-imagined California Grill in our photo gallery below:
Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Check out all the picture goodness by clicking here!
Of course the romance doesn’t stop with the atmosphere and the sunsets. The biggest reason to savor the view comes courtesy of The Magic Kingdom below. Wishes is a night time celebration of fireworks and magic. It’s also amazing when viewed from California Grill!
California Grill is now open at The Contemporary Resort. Reservations are strongly suggested.
For more from around the theme park world, be sure to like us on Facebook.com/BehindThrills for even more delicious theme park fun!