OK - Right away I have to tell you that Cali Grill is one of our 'Must Do' experiences. We have had amazing food and service every time, and once we happened to get some unexpected 'Magical' attention. Needless to say, our hearts are always drawn back to this place and it didn't disappoint this time, either.
We arrived a bit early. Doing the Disney Bus Shuffle is sometimes like playing roulette; this time our timing was great, but there have been times . . . I am sure many of you know of what I speak!! We had a 7:45 seating so we could see Wishes, either from our table should we be that fortunate, or from the observation deck. It is a whole new experience to see the fireworks from the top of the Contemporary!!
While waiting for our table, we took a seat at the bar and had a couple frosty beverages. Well, mine was frosty. Kim likes the sweet and fruity. The place was jumping and everyone around us was having a wonderful time. OF course we were eyeballing all the window tables, hoping that we would be lucky enough . . . but sadly, a great window table was not to be on this trip. We actually were seated almost as far from the MK side as possible - at the exact table we had on our last visit!!
As I am sure you all have guessed already - we started with . . . the cheese!! Again, such a wonderful selection of textures and flavors. An so pretty to look at, too!! We generally always share the cheese plates so that we save room for other tasties!
For appetizers, Kim had the goat cheese ravioli and I had the fried green tomato and crab salad. Both were very good. The ravioli has been on the menu for a long time - we had it the very first time we visited and several times since then. The presentation has changed, but it is still so good. Creamy goat cheese and a flavorful tomato broth. Mmmm! The green tomato and crab salad was at once both rich and fresh. There is also a bit of heat in it which I enjoyed very much. The crab was cool and the fried tomatoes warm and tangy. Just a nice dish! Please note that some of the Cali Grill dishes come and go as they are dedicated to using fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Service at Cali Grill has always been spot on for us. This trip was no exception. Billy was great - and paced out our meal perfectly. Our appetizer plates were whisked away and shortly after, our entrees arrived. Kim ordered the Arctic Char - a cousin to salmon, so rich and tender!! It came with a pea-shoot risotto and black trumpet mushrooms. It was a heavenly combination! Kim is a fish fanatic - and LOVES risotto (she makes a mean risotto herself!) so this dish was a perfect happy place for her! I had the lamb chops. The portion was so large that I worried I may not finish it, but trooper that I am, I dove right in and completed the mission!! So tender and flavorful. I know that not everyone enjoys lamb; in the US, we are more attuned to beef, pork, and chicken. For most of my life, I really wasn't fond of that 'lamby' flavor, but in the past 10 years, I have developed a taste for lamb and this was some of the best I have had! But with two thick cut chops, I didn't finish my wonderful garlic potatoes; sometimes sacrifices must be made!!
I apologize about the blurry lamb pic. Too excited to focus, I guess . . .
After our main courses, the table was cleared and then the lights began to dim. A quick check of the time and . . . It was 10:00 and WISHES was beginning!! We didn't leave our table, just turned our chairs. Although we couldn't see the highest fireworks, we could see and hear more than enough. What a Treat!!
Now even after a 'food break' during the fireworks, we were wondering if we had room for any dessert, but our server Billy came to the rescue and made some great suggestions. Kim was intrigued by the strawberry cheesecake, but I didn't listen to his suggestions of light desserts; no, I had to have the Chocolate Bread Pudding. Kim's was light but rich, a perfect ending to her meal.
Mine, though, was . . . OK, Seriously - Bread AND Chocolate? It was perfection on a plate with a bit of rich chocolate ice cream and some toffee crumbles. Keep your delicious cheesecake. Bread AND Chocolate for me, please!!
The California Grill is not just one of Disney's best, but one of the best restaurants I've ever been to ANYWHERE.
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
J. R. R. Tolkien