Friday, June 24, 2011

U.S. Adventures: The California Grill in Disney World, Orlando, FL

We just got an opportunity to take our kids to Disney and the beach for a few days to celebrate the end of the school year.  It was my son’s first time in Disney, and needless to say, he was very excited.  I thought doing a review or two might be helpful since so many Indy people seem to travel to Disney World, and Florida in general. Overall, I found the food in Disney to be pretty much what I expected—mediocre park food, and our dinner at Chef Mickey’s not much better than the food in the park.  It was a buffet—the real purpose of this restaurant was to meet Mickey Mouse and his friends, and for that purpose, it was exactly what we wanted.  I didn’t eat a lot there, because it was one of those meals that felt a bit like a waste of calories. 
Our last night in Disney though, I had made a reservation for the California Grill which is at the top of the Contemporary hotel.  It is a very large place, but has lovely windows almost all the way around with very nice views of the parks.  There was even a rainbow over Epcot while we had dinner.  While it is a nicer restaurant than a lot of the Disney choices, it is still quite loud and kid friendly.  Most tables had kids (as did ours).  The kitchen is open, and it was interesting to see all the things coming out of there.  A lot of good looking stuff, I have to say. 
So hubby and I shared a couple of things—the yellowfin tuna sampler  ($23)(and they have a large selection of sushi as well) which was quite good. Probably the best thing we had all night.  It was tuna tartare, seared sliced tuna (tataki) and tuna poke (large cubes).  Each part came with its own little sauce and accompaniments.  There was also a little dish of this soy and pickled onion relish that was delicious with all the different things on the plate.  We really enjoyed it. 
We also shared the local corn soup ($11) which was made with pureed corn and Portobello mushrooms –it was a very thick soup.  It was meant to have lobster in it as well according to the menu, and there were a few little dices of something on top when it was served, but they were so small, it was hard to really tell if it was lobster.  It did add a little texture, but the soup was so thick already, even that you didn’t notice that much.  The whole thing was drizzled with white truffle oil and ended up being a pretty decent combination of flavors even without the lobster.  The sweetness from the corn and the heartiness of the mushrooms were nice—and mushrooms are always nice with a little truffle.  It was so rich though, and thick, like I said, that we didn’t even finish it.
For my main, well, they had soft shell crab sliders on the menu, and you know I wasn’t passing up soft shell crabs even if they were in the form of sliders ($18).  They were an appetizer, but there were two of them which was more than enough for me.  They were on little brioche buns (one small crab per bun), and topped with roasted red peppers and corn, and had a spicy aioli on them as well.  The buns were nice and soft and the crabs were fried nicely—it was maybe just a little too much for me with all that stuff—you couldn’t really get the flavor of the crab.  By the time I had gotten to the second one, I mainly was just pulling the crab out of the sandwich. 
The kids enjoyed it too—my son appreciated a kid’s meal that included a decent steak (“fire-roasted” he kept pointing out to me) and he ate every bite.  Hubby had the veal dish ($44) and liked it, although didn’t love it. It was veal tenderloin with potatoes, beans and a morel/spring veggie vinaigrette.  But we were both really happy to have food that was fresh and had some care put into making it. Also a decent wine list.  And the views are some of the best in Disney.  This is a great place to come watch the fireworks that are set off every night around Cinderella’s castle.  And even if you eat before the fireworks start, you can come back up and enjoy their balcony.  It is a bit of a mad house, but if we do a return trip to Disney, this is a place worth repeating.  My next Florida review includes some places from St. Pete Beach, which was where we were off to next.
The California Grill
The Contemporary Resort
4600 North World Drive
Buena Vista, FL  32830

California Grill on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I just posted a few reviews from our May trip too (delayed on my part) - it is nice to get some food that wasn't so 'amusement park' when on vacation in a place like WDW. We dined at the Wave, pleasantly surprised on my end.