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Our dearest Chiliboy reminded Dear Abby of her wonderful final trip with George and she has decided to share her thoughts about the marvelous California Grill. These memories are very sweet, my dears.

Each time the elevator doors open, the squeaky little voice of Mickey Mouse himself announces the level. By the time the elevator has reached the top (fifteenth) floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort, this has become a bit tiresome. But all was forgiven when the doors opened and Dear Abby and Mr. Dear Abby (George), found themselves standing inside the stunning California Grill.

In the lobby area, blonde wood shelving displays California wine bottles against panels of white frosted glass. The tastefully modern decor of the California Grill hints that despite the presence of a few children, one may indeed expect a grown-up dining experience in this sophisticated, yet somewhat casual restaurant.

As Dear Abby was led to her highly-coveted window table, she noticed the bustling activity of the open stage kitchen and briefly considered asking to be seated at the kitchen-view sushi bar instead. Mais non. George and Dear Abby's hotel concierge had thoughtfully timed their priority seating to coincide with the nightly fireworks display.

The tables in the sleek, colorful dining room are dressed in white linens, of course, and floor-to-ceiling windows offer the most dramatic views in all of Disney World. The excellent waiter's name was Ron. The waitstaff was dressed in all black with neon-bright multi-colored ties.

The brick oven baked flatbread had been highly recommended, so Dear Abby and her darling George ordered the flatbread with BBQ Glazed Chicken, Provolone and Caramelized Onions. This was not the very thin-crusted flatbread pizza-like appetizer that Abby expected. This was made with a whole wheat dough spread with a sweet brown sauce. It was sprinkled with minced chives. The red onions had been marinated in a good aged balsamic vinegar. The serving was more than enough for two, but two bites were enough for your Abby.

Dear Abby actually preferred the house bread over the flatbreads -- a thick fennel-seed focaccia served warm and soft with a saucer of EV olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. She advises you to skip the flatbreads entirely and go straight to the sushi or the first course appetizers instead.

Abby and George ordered the Sushi Sampler (souvenir chopsticks provided). The sampler consists of seven pieces, beautifully presented: California roll (of course!), tuna, salmon, shrimp, and veggies, served with flavored soy sauces, ginger and wasabi.

Abby also tried the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli appetizer with Sundried Tomato Nectar. The single round ravioli with impossibly thin pasta was nicely presented in a shallow bowl. The sauce was superb. The ravioli was topped with shredded parmesan and basil chiffonade.

Beloved George enjoyed the Crispy Duck Eggroll with Ginger-Pickled Beets. This is a large eggroll filled with duck and shredded veggies served sliced in half on a pale green oval plate. One of the pieces features the fried duck leg bone. Odd, but it makes for an interesting presentation. The eggroll comes with golden beets, mildly pickled with ginger root and garnished with basil chiffonade. Abby particularly enjoyed tasting the Voodoo Mustard Sauce -- mustard with duck au jus, hoisin, and Ancho chili pepper.

(Remember, ladies, the key to tasting so many interesting dishes without spoiling your girlish figure is to always do just that -- taste!)

On to the main course! Abby ordered the California Grill's signature dish -- Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Polenta and Balsamic Smothered Mushrooms. The polenta was very soft and savory with goat cheese and Asiago. The small slices of pork (five) were almost as tender as the polenta, and had a nice, crispy crust. The dish was garnished with basil leaf.

Darling George had Pan Roasted Striped Bass with Zinfandel Risotto and Lemon Butter Broth This was a nice fillet, about 1 and 1/4-inch thick with a crispy peppered crust. It was presented atop the tangy risotto, surrounded with the sauce, and garnished with many thin, curly strips of fried plantain.

Now for the best part of this (or any) meal -- dessert! Abby has already discussed Dear George's wonderful Butterscotch Crème Brûlée with ChiliBoy in Recipe Exchange. Abby herself had one of the special desserts created in honor of Walt Disney's 100th birthday, the Lemon Meringue Pie Soufflé.

Words fail your Dear Abby when describing this little puff of perfection!

This was a soufflé cloud baked atop a half-inch layer of lemon curd pie filling over a base of shortbread crumbs. It was piled high with swirls of lightly browned meringue. Ordinary meringue? Of course not! After all, this is Disney; one must expect some magic! This meringue was a fluffy cloud of lemon-flavored air!


(Remembering the magic....the fireworks....George...more fireworks.)

Now where was Abby? Oh yes.... and the soufflé was served with a chilled lemon cream sauce. Go get it before Disney's "100 Years of Magic" celebration is over.

Dear Abby must now reminisce about the fireworks with her George on that magical evening. No, no, my pets -- Abby will not discuss those fireworks (even if she were willing, that would be inappropriate to include in a restaurant review)! Abby speaks only of the pyrotechnic display in the night sky. The fireworks were part of the dinner entertainment, and as such, may be included here.

George and Abby first watched a breathtakingly beautiful sunset behind the Grand Floridian hotel. As the sky darkened, we had a view of a perfect crescent moon high over the Polynesian Resort behind the Seven Seas Lagoon. The views were nothing short of awesome! The lighting on Cinderella's Castle changes color gradually throughout the night, and it was fun to watch the double-decker ferries gliding across the black water of the lake.

When it is time for fireworks (and timing varies according to season), the restaurant lights are dimmed by a computerized system and the musical score for the show is piped into the dining room. This, my pets, is the perfect way to enjoy a fireworks display -- no smoke and no loud noises! The fireworks are always thrilling, but since October, Disney has added a spectacular Grand Finale for the "100 Years of Magic" theme.

What else can one say? It was simply magical!


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Dear Abby, sounds like a wonderful experience. I too had a wonderful dinner there, just over a year ago. My wife and I celebrated our honeymoon at Disney, and dinner at California Grill topped our last night there. What a great time. The food was absolutely spectacular and since it was our honeymoon, they gave us one of the prime seats in the house. We enjoyed 2 courses before the fireworks, and finished with entrees, desserts and afterdinner drinks afterwards. Though we had many fun, and romantic times at Disney, our dinner there was truly on of the pinnacles.

1,389 Posts
Pete the same is here :)

I had the stupid idea to go for honeymoon in Cuba. if you are people that you are interested in what happens to other people just don't go , you will be depressed.

So we were upset with Cuba and my husband just like that he said : Follow me !

We went to Disneyland. :)

Well never in my life I would have thought that I would have such great time in Disneyland :)

We had dinner as well in California Grill.

Dear Abby thank you very much for the memories.

Surpisingly enough I don't remember exactly the dinner because I was so absorbed by this long dive in the deep waters of American Culture!!

I was fascinated, it was a whole new world for me.
This view was breathtaking and for the first time I realised that we have such a different perspective of what world is.
From the tiny Aegean to the world of wonders...
This was my first amazing but shocking experience and the second one was in the Windows on the Wolrd...

Thanks again Dear Abby for you lovely rave :)

53 Posts
"Well never in my life I would have thought that I would have such great time in Disneyland

We had dinner as well in California Grill."

Ahhhh, dear sir, if you noshed at California Grill, you were at Disney World in Florida. 'T would be a very nice feat eating at the Cali Grill (Florida) while simultaneously enjoying Disneyland (California).
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