The Walt Disney World Resort offers numerous dining options to guests making it incredibly difficult to select a restaurant on any given night. One option that has not been available to guests for most of 2013 is the California Grill atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The California Grill had been closed for several months as Disney refurbished one of their flagship restaurants. Days before its official re-opening to the general public, we were granted a preview of the newly re-imagined restaurant. The experience was a culinary masterpiece with pixie dust thrown in for good measure.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort opened in 1971 alongside Magic Kingdom, the park that started it all for the Walt Disney World Resort. The deluxe resort is adjacent to the world famous park providing spectacular views from a number of rooms within the resort. The sweeping views of Magic Kingdom can also be seen from the 15th floor of the Contemporary where the California Grill resides. Disney timed our reservation perfectly so that we would witness a majestic sunset while sipping on a Sake Martini and eating the delicious Three-Meat Signature Meatball. Chief among the refurbishment items was capitalizing on the location of the restaurant by removing select interior walls to emphasize panoramic views visible from every seat in the restaurant.
Did we mention there is also good food? Sushi lovers in particular will rejoice upon witnessing the wide selection consisting of Yuzu-marinated Sashimi, Dragon Roll, Spicy Kazan Roll, and the unique Pork Belly Nigiri among others. Less adventurous eaters need not fret as California Grill also offers the 24-hour Short Rib “Filet”, Pacific Halibut, and Roasted Squash Ravioli. However the highest honor of the night belongs to the Pork Two Ways which consists of grilled tenderloin, lacquered pork belly, goat cheese polenta, and the unexpected but welcome addition of applesauce. The unique combination of flavors deserves to be experienced rather than inadequately explained.
That sets the stage for dessert where California Grill presents a number of different options. Banana fritters and chocolate pudding certainly will not disappoint guests. The uniquely crafted Sundae Sampler offers a trio of selections: strawberry sundae, caramel corn sundae, and an American classic, the Coke float. The presentation of this dessert is a sight to behold with the Coke float coming in a miniature sized Coke bottle. All that being said, the Meyer Lemon Cheesecake made with a sugar substitute unexpectedly made the greatest impression providing a very light ending.
The culinary experience at California Grill comes full circle with Wishes, the nighttime fireworks display over Magic Kingdom. California Grill offers two jutting exterior walkways that provide unobstructed views of Wishes over Cinderella’s Castle. No detail is left unattended as Disney even pipes in the music of the fireworks show proving that California Grill remains the best seat in the house for this nighttime spectacular.
With a mid-century modern makeover and a refreshed menu, the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort reaffirms its place as the crown jewel of Disney dining.
Disclosure: We were provided a complimentary dinner to experience the re-imagined California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and facilitate this post. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
All photos courtesy of Ricardo Escobar and Frank Cheng for modernmami™