I understand there are a lot of mixed feelings out there about reviewing a restaurant on opening night. Let’s, then, consider this a “set of paragraphs with some helpful recommendations” written by the designated vegan, shall we?
After years of waiting, I finally had the opportunity to dine at California Grill on the night of its grand re-opening. I was stoked. Having absolutely no point of reference for comparison, I was blown away by the atmosphere, the view, and the awesome window shades that automatically raised as the sun was setting in the distance. Before even having a taste of my pineapple juice, I made up my mind that I was going to love everything about the evening that followed.
My dietary preferences had been noted in the reservation ahead of time, and confirmed again with the host a few hours prior to our reservation. Upon being seated, our server confirmed to me that both types of bread – a lavender focaccia and whole wheat sourdough rolls – were both vegan. I was very surprised by this, since many restaurants in Walt Disney World use bread that contains eggs. I even asked twice, but was assured that both types of bread were vegan. Both options were delicious, I could have eaten the whole basket on my own.
After quickly perusing the menu, I noticed there were no options that were vegan by default, but gave an extra glance to the Roasted Squash Ravioli, since it sounded delicious (Root spinach and parsnips? Don’t mind if I do, but I didn’t.). I was also really interested in the Carrot and Cilantro Soup, but unfortunately it was cream-based and contains halibut. Two strikes, soup! Our server, Abdou, coached me through the Soup, Salads, and Appetizers section of the menu. He recommended the “Romaine Salad,” to which I agreed. When it arrived, it was tomatoes atop leaves of Romaine lettuce seasoned with oil, a bit too much salt, and pepper. There wasn’t much to the dish, as you can see, I was underwhelmed yet hopeful for what was to come next.
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