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For our second wedding anniversary, we once again wanted to have dinner at California Grill. For our first anniversary, we had our very first meal at California Grill and it was delicious. With views of Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Bay Lake and more, there aren’t many better places to dine and start a tradition of amazing celebratory meals.
This restaurant is located in Disney’s Contemporary Resort at the top of the resort. You can perfectly view the Happily Ever After fireworks from this location if you time it right and can also snag a spot if you bring your receipt from an earlier dinner or brunch from that day.
The first time we dined at California Grill we sat in a corner with views of Epcot, this year, we were seated just to the right of the entrance with breathtaking views of all of Magic Kingdom and Bay Lake. The view itself is worth the steeper price tag at this signature restaurant but the food sends it over the top.
The table settings are crisp, white linens with white napkins with a light orange thick stripe across the center with “California Grill” printed. The vibe is modern sophistication with clean lines, complimentary colors and floor to ceiling windows because of course, the best part of the decor is the view.
California Grill is well known for their extensive wine list. From California to Spain to South Africa and Austria, there is something for everyone by the glass or by the bottle.
A crusty sourdough bread started off the meal, served with an olive oil, sundried tomato, herb and chive dipping sauce. The sundried tomatoes really gave this oil a sweet, smokey finish that got your tastebuds excited for what was to come.
On our first anniversary, the one thing that I remember is the Farmer’s Pizza. This pizza had an egg on it and it was delicious. We were so excited to try it again only to find out that it was no longer on the menu.
The menu at California Grill changes with ingredients that are available locally and seasonally so be open to trying new things.
Because we were so excited to have a pizza, we took our server, Roberto’s recommendation to try the pepperoni pizza. This wasn’t your typical pepperoni pizza, the pepperoni was not in a casing and the flavors were absolutely delicious. A little spicy, a hint of sweetness, a true burst of flavors along with the perfect amount of cheese and sauce. The sauce also had a nice hint of sweetness with a rich tomato flavor and a good amount of herbs to bump that flavor profile up.
The dough was crispy on the outside with a pillowy, airy soft center and the piece de resistance was the pistou that was drizzled on top. This was a strong basil flavor and gave the perfect herb, freshness that really brightened up the whole dish. Unlike any pepperoni pizza that I have ever had and I would definitely recommend it.
Next, I selected the California peach salad. This was hands down the best thing that I ate this night and we ate a lot of amazing things. I would have ordered four of these salads, that’s how good it was. The salad included fried goat cheese balls, fresh peaches, candied pecans and a roasted cherry vinaigrette.
Every single one of these flavors complimented each other and nothing overpowered anything else. Sweet, savory, fresh and perfect.
Bryson was so excited for the sushi. He loved the sushi at our brunch we had at California Grill, stay tuned and be on the lookout for our dining review from that.
He ordered the California combination roll. This was a traditional California roll, served with jumbo lump crab, crunchy cucumber and creamy avocado. The second roll was an inside out, which means that the seaweed was rolled on the inside and the rice was on the outside of the roll, tempura shrimp roll, that was served with a mango sauce.
Although he would recommend the sushi more at brunch than at dinner, simply because it is a better value at brunch with all you care to enjoy, the flavors were fresh and delicious.
I ordered the oak fired filet and I was personally underwhelmed by this selection. It was my least favorite that I ordered but it wasn’t a bad dish. I was informed by Bryson that I had too high of expectations for a steak because he thought it was delicious.
My disappointment came from ordering a medium-rare steak that came out a tad over medium but I also expected a $50 steak to cut with a fork. For $50, I don’t think that is unreasonable but I am also picky about my steaks.
The flavor was good on this dish and it was complimentary to the creme fraiche mashed potatoes and the Meyer lemon vinaigrette was my favorite part of the dish. Had the steak been more tender it would have been delicious. I think everything else that I ordered though just outshined my entree.
Bryson ordered the surf and turf which came with a lobster tail and a bison strip loin. His strip loin was tender and cooked to perfection. He could actually cut his with a fork and between the two, I would absolutely select the bison over the filet. The bison was served with a succotash on top and a similar pistou to what we had on the pepperoni pizza.
The lobster tail was poached in butter and both were tasty and cooked perfectly. Served with a thai coconut sauce was unexpected an did slightly overpower the lobster in our opinion. Lobster is a delicate fish and taste and something as strong as a thai spiced sauce can really overpower the fish where you can’t even taste the lobster itself which is a shame.
By this point, we were both beyond full but we powered through because there was no way I was going to turn down lavender donuts.
My lavender donuts were incredible. I love lavender desserts but I completely understand that lavender is a love it or hate it flavor and I love it. This was the perfect summer dessert for me. Served with a blueberry gin jam and a blueberry frozen yogurt, the warm donuts were delicate in flavor and dusted in sugar. Sweet, summery and delicious.
Bryson ordered the warm Valrhona chocolate cake which was a dense, rich chocolate cake served with vanilla bean ice cream, milk chocolate whipped panna cotta and crunchy, salty pretzels.
A lot of food, an expensive meal but that is to be expected from a signature dining experience at Walt Disney World. This restaurant is a part of the Disney Dining Plan and is two table service credits. If you are going to experience this, I would recommend the brunch for a better bang for your buck but the dinner menu is amazing and changes seasonally.
We will likely continue this tradition of California Grill on our next anniversary if we are able to and we both look forward to experiencing a meal at this amazing restaurant again.
Amazing flavors, a lot of thought goes into this menu by the chefs to create a flavorful, culinary experience.
Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.