Laurie recently went to California Grill. Our family loves California Grill and can’t wait to get back there again.
The night began with valet parking at the front door of the Contemporary resort. The valet offered to remove my scooter but I have to do it a specific way. They are such patient gentlemen. The check in desk faces a wall of glass that faces the Magic Kingdom. I was given a pager and sent to Fred who held the door open as a group of us boarded the elevator to the top of the Contemporary.
I was greeted by a friendly hostess who sent me to the lounge to wait. I spent some time speaking with a very nice manager about his long history with Disney. No matter what limitations a guest has this restaurant should not be a problem.. Kids for the most part were well mannered as were the adults. There is great lighting, comfortable seating, helpful staff, special diets, and no banging drums like Boma. During Wishes the lights dim and the music plays but that should not be an issue with most guests, I was seated at a table across from the open kitchen along the main walkway. The waiter brought out a pot of brown sugar cubes, lemon, and a tiny white pitcher of cane syrup for my tea. The sweet liquid cane syrup was so different for crystal sugar as it dissolves immediately. My mother had a hard time with heavy glassware so I was very happy to use a lightweight glass. Too many times I have spilled a drink because of the heavy glassware.
The California Grill has a new second observation deck for watching fireworks and they pipe in the music for Wishes and other fireworks events. It is a great place to wait for dinner to be served. I read over and over the “Sushi for Guests with Allergy and Dietary Considerations” menu until the chef arrived to plan my dining experience. He started me off with GNI dinner rolls with soft butter topped with a lavender leaf and sea salt. I was presented with an artistically presented plate of eight California Roll pieces, ginger, wasabi, thinly sliced sweet pickles, and a flower. There was almost no hint of vinegar to overwhelm the delicate ingredients that laid within. The black sesame seeds added to the eye appeal of the rice that was not too sticky. Inside was nori that held cucumber matchsticks, fresh avocado, and fresh crab. I picked at the sushi to get to the crab to savor it as it was so fresh and tasty. The thin pickles were sweet, refreshing, and had a slight citrus or yuzu note. By far the best sushi I have ever had.
I put the sushi aside to start on the Farmer’s Salad that features a Lake Meadow poached egg which I had to pass on as I cannot eat poached chicken eggs. Another work of art with frisee and field greens topped with watermelon radish slices. The baby carrots were pickled through and through but were in a raw crunchy state. There was tiny flecks of a white semi-soft cheese, candied pecans, pistachios, and artichoke tidbits. The crunch of carrots and nuts combined with a medley of palmetto honey vinaigrette, sweet nuts, and and pickled carrots made for a symphony of notes that took me to my happy spot. Everyone was running to the observation decks to watch Wishes but like Remy I was seeing fireworks from my orchestrated meal.
I had a good view of things coming from the kitchen including an artistically designed pile of food. I stared for a bit to figure what is what without using my fingers. On top was tender, flaky Atlantic Flounder with a nice brown sear on the edge that like everything on the plate was from Florida. There were cherry tomatoes, frisee, a huge slice of sweet red onion, bits of honeybells, and an onion vinaigrette. A symphony of sweet tangy tangelos, crispy sear on the fish then a bite of tomato then sweet onion and oh that fish was one of the best ever. I kept digging and digging with more treasures hidden inside. This was a work of art handcrafted by the chefs that I was sad to destroy. Rare is it to find such a perfect, light, filling entree that is so lovely to behold.
I love ice cream so I went for the Sundae Sampler which are deconstructed versions of Frangelico Toffee, Reverse Root Beer Float, and Banana Split. I started off with the Frangelico Toffee in its cute glass jar with a lid. Dark chocolate and hazelnut combined in a creamy pudding of sorts that was awesome. The root beer float was a miniature glass with root beer ice cream that is made in house with a tiny bottle of in house made cream soda. I was taken back to A & W burgers and root beer floats with my parents, so much fun to eat. The finale was the banana split with candied nuts that reminded me of a banana split.
They feature local items on their market menu. They offer such a wide array of food and drink that everyone should be happy here. I want to try the bison, chicken, Charcuterie, creme brulee, salads, and more sushi on my next visit. Overall, I highly recommend this restaurant for a 2 table service and for splurging on a night out. The menu, lighting, seating, modern decor, observation decks, views, Wishes with music, and staff add up to an experience that is a rare gem.