Great Food with Great Friends at the California Grill

by on March 16, 2011 4 Comments

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On my last trip some friends and I decided to splurge on dinner at the California Grill to celebrate three birthdays among our group.  This restaurant is one of WDW signature dining experiences and requires two table service credits on Disney’s dining plan.  It is located at the top of the Contemporary Resort where guests check in on the second floor,  then are escorted to the restaurant via a private elevator.  The atmosphere inside fits with the resort’s modern decor and offers gorgeous views of Seven Seas Lagoon, nearby resorts, and the Magic Kingdom.  Even if you are not seated near a window, you can have an excellent of your dinner being prepared in the open kitchen.  It is also important to note the mouth watering menu at the California Grill relies heavily on season ingredients so their offerings are constantly changing.

The view of the Magic Kingdom from the observation deck

We arrived at the California Grill and explained to the cast members at the host’s desk that while our reservation was for eight people we actually had nine.  This was the first time I’ve ever been given attitude for bringing too many people, but they accommodated us anyway.  We had a little while to wait, so we were able to go outside to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks.  Since it was February, it was a little chilly, but it was a lovely start to our evening.  A great tip for diners here is to either arrive early or stay a bit late to take in Wishes! from the roof top observation area attached to the restaurant.  Even if you are not seated during show, as long as you have an ADR for that evening you will be permitted to take advantage of this perk.  You can always spend some time at the bar between the fireworks and your reservation time since the California Grill has an extensive wine list.

Flat Iron Steak Flatbread

Once we were seated we decided since this was a celebratory meal, we’d to go all out and order bottles of wine and appetizers.  We had all heard great things about California Grill’s flatbread appetizers so it was just a matter of who would share with who and making their selections among the four choices.  My friend, Deanna, and I agreed to share the flatbread featuring roasted wild mushrooms and truffle .  We both thought it was delicious even though Deanna wasn’t sure she would like the mushrooms!  Some other friends opted for the grilled flat iron steak flatbread with a mushroom cream sauce and fried shallots.  This dish was also a hit at our table with almost everyone giving it a try.  If you are a sushi fan, this restaurant is well known for its sushi menu.   Maybe flatbreads and sushi sound appealing?  Well, there are other options available for your first course as well.


When it came time to choosing our entrees, most of us selected the filet.  They were all cooked as we requested and with a

California Grill's Filet Entree

lovely teriyaki barbecue sauce.  There were also some carrots and some of the yummiest potatoes we had ever eaten on our plates.  I think it’s safe to say we would all recommend this dish!  One of my friends ordered tuna dish which was accompanied by udon noodles and veggies.   He said the

California Grill's Tuna Entree

tuna was exactly what he hoped it would be and didn’t leave a bite behind.  We also had a vegan among us who was treated to a specially made meal and she gave it rave reviews.


Somehow we all decided we had room for dessert!  I opted for the bananas and caramel which consists of pieces of baked phyllo dough layered with marscapone mouse and caramelized bananas.  It was lighter than many desserts, but still sweet and tasty.  I thought it was a perfect ending to my meal.  A few chocolate lovers at the table went for the chocolate lava cake.  They all loved this rich, sweet, treat which came with a bit of ice cream and a few fresh strawberries.  Those of us who were celebrating birthdays even received a piece of chocolate wishing us “happy birthday from the California Grill!”  Dessert is always more special when there is a birthday candle in it.

Chocolate Lava Cake


As you may have noticed, I really enjoyed our evening at the California Grill.  Not only was the food wonderful, but the service was great too.  Our server was friendly, efficient, and courteous without being overbearing.  It was fun to have an excuse to dress up for an evening out while at WDW.  Usually I dress for comfort while running around the parks, so putting on a dress was a treat for this girlie girl.  There is a dress code here, but it is basically business casual so it isn’t too stuffy.  While the price is a bit steep, it was worth it for a wonderful meal with wonderful friends.  It would be a lovely location for a romantic dinner with the one you love or to celebrate any milestone with friends and family.

How about you?  Have you dined at the California Grill?  Let me know about your experiences at this restaurant!

My friends and I after our lovely meal


A special thanks this week to Neil Citro for being my official photographer during our visit to the California Grill and providing all of the pictures in this post!

Next week I’ll discuss my recent stay at the Beach Club Resort!


Posted on March 16, 2011

4 Responses to “Great Food with Great Friends at the California Grill”

  • We ate at the California Grill a couple of years ago. The food and service was excellent! You’re right. It is always fun to dress up!

  • we dined at cg for the 4th or 5th time mar. 11th. while we were dressed up (much like your group in the picture) we noticed far more casual wear, including shorts and t shirts, than in the past. it was also exceptionally noisy and chaotic. the pork tenderloin, filet, and sushi were as great as ever, though! i think next time we’ll skip cali grill in favor of flying fish – also delicious and much better atmosphere this trip. maybe it was the mardi gras festivities? it was fat tuesday…..

    • On our trip in January, we ate at California Grill the night after we’d dined at Victoria & Albert’s Chef’s Table, so that might have jaded our experience. We basically decided that the service was rushed, and the environment was more like a TGI Friday’s than a fine restaurant. The food was “OK.” The next night we went to our favorite, Flying Fish.

      Gotta agree. Flying Fish–hands down first choice!

      A hint for viewing Wishes–you can go all the way to the end of the viewing platform and trot down a couple of flights of stairs for more of a private viewing experience. Now I’ve gone and ruined the secret! 😉

  • We ate at California Grill March 15. It was a terrific meal. I am a vegan; the chef prepared a fantastic tasting plate for me, and removed the cheese from half of the wild mushroom flatbread pizza, which my husband and I split as an app. What surprised me the most — the very different perspective offered for the Wishes fireworks! Really beautiful!