For many, California Grill is the pinnacle of fine dining in Walt Disney World. Located on the 15th level of Disney's Contemporary Resort, California Grill offers a priceless view of the Magic Kingdom.
I made reservations at 8:20pm, as the "Wishes" fireworks show would be visible from the large restaurant windows at 9pm.
We checked in at 7:30pm and requested a window table. We were told that a window table would be a wait of 1.5 hours after our scheduled reservation. We were also told that just being seated would take 40 minutes beyond our reservation time.
I was in too good a mood to be upset. The hostess suggested that we check out the view on the observation deck. My jaw dropped at the gorgeous views of the Magic Kingdom and the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts. While we were taking loads of pictures, our buzzer went off within minutes of checking in!
We make our way back to the hostess, who seats us at a window table!! Our server Kevin was extremely knowledgeable about the food preparations and wine pairings, as I would expect a server in such a restaurant to be able to do.
The menu changes on a weekly basis. As Kevin did help me "steal" a menu, here is the short list of what was offered as entrées when I dined there.
Wild King Salmon w/Corn Spoonbread Soufflé
Veal Tournedos w/Ricotta Gnocchi
Grilled Pork Tenderloin w/Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta
Black Grouper w/Olive Oil Whipped Potatoes
Wild Mushroom-Ricotta Stack w/Herb Pasta Leaves
Halibut Steamed w/Banana Leaf
Oak-fired Beef Filet w/3 Cheese Potato Gratin
Roasted Petite Chicken w/Cipollini Fondue
For a first course I ordered the Hearts of Romaine Salad, which had a delicious "Green Goddess Dressing." I ordered the Grilled Pork Tenderloin as a main course. It was very tender, and the cheese polenta was so tasty, so I highly recommend it.
At 9pm, the lights in the restaurant dimmed and the music from the "Wishes" fireworks over the castle played through the speakers. Watching the fireworks 15 floors high and dining on a decadent meal was just, well, magical. It is Disney, isn't it?
Time for dessert! Kevin told us early in the evening about a certain dessert called "Chocolate and Cherries, Cherries and Chocolate" that would take 45 minutes to prepare. His description of it made my mouth water, so I was quick to order it on his suggestion. Imagine, if you will, a warm chocolate cake tart filled with molten chocolate that is so decadent, you wonder if you could ever eat a "common" Hershey bar again. Where are the cherries you ask? The cake sits on a small pour of cherry puree. But there's more! To go with that warm chocolate, there is a serving of cherry ice cream with chocolate shavings... mmmmmmm!
California Grill is simply an outstanding restaurant. If you and your wallet are up for a little indulgence while in Walt Disney World, consider dining here, as it is certainly memorable. Enjoy!