A colleague asked me where I was headed when she spotted me on the way to my car. When I told her I was going to Disneyland to visit the new Jolly Holiday Bakery Café, she asked where it was. When I told her it was on Main Street, at the location of the old Plaza Pavilion, she shook her head and gave me a puzzled look. Even a reminder that it was the location where Disneyland used to process Annual Passports as well as stationed a Disney Vacation Club kiosk, my colleague was still puzzled.
As I drove to the Disneyland Resort, I kept replaying that conversation in my head. Am I the only person that knows about this new restaurant at Disneyland? Surely, other people have thought there was a tremendous amount of wasted real estate at the northwest corner of Main Street, USA, right?
At first glance, the newly opened eatery looks a lot like the old Plaza Pavilion. Initially, I wondered if this was going to be the same old stuff from the Blue Ribbon Bakery under a different name. But then I spotted a penguin. And another. Then two more.
For fans of Mary Poppins, it's not difficult to figure out that the restaurant is named after the Sherman Brothers' song "Jolly Holiday" from the 1964 Disney classic. However, while Mary Poppins and Bert have been regulars on Main Street, USA, you won't find their images inside Jolly Holiday Bakery Café. In fact, unless you recently watched or are very familiar with the Academy Award-winning classic, you might miss the subtle Mary Poppins motif altogether.
At the end of the queue, when you are the next person in line before going to one of the bakery's six registers to place your order, you need to look down. There on the floor, is a beautiful mosaic tile interpretation of one of the sidewalk chalk drawings that Bert drew in the movie. This is the drawing that Bert, Mary, and the children jump into. It is also the point in Mary Poppins when the "Jolly Holiday" number begins, and Bert and Mary have tea served by penguins.
The bakery offers an impressive array of pastries, creations of Jean-Marc Viallet, Executive Pastry Chef for the Disneyland Resort. You might recognize Chef Viallet from various cooking shows, like the Guy Fieri Food Network special on holiday-themed food at the Disneyland Resort.
Whenever I have an opportunity to talk to chefs, I ask which dish they are most proud of. Without hesitation, Chef Viallet replied that it was the quiche. He explained that comfort food is making a big comeback and that he really wanted to have a savory pastry on the menu. He also added that the quiche and several other menu items will change frequently, maybe as often as every week.
For example, Jolly Holiday Bakery Café was serving a ham and cheese quiche this week, but next week it might be quiche lorraine or a spinach and goat cheese quiche. I think this is a great way to keep the menu fresh and the guests interested. Restaurants outside of the Disneyland Resort offer variety and rotated offerings, so why not try it inside the resort, as well?
Chef Viallet added that everything served in the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café is made from scratch in the central kitchen using only fresh ingredients. For example, the lemon bars are made using real lemon juice instead of artificial flavors, and the cheesecake is made using eggs and cream cheese, not a mix from a box, ensuring a higher quality of food at the bakery.
One of the sample pastries on the tray was an individual-sized apple pie with a lattice-top design that I recognized from the blueberry pie introduced at Hungry Bear last March, so I asked Chef Viallet if blueberry would be one of the fruits that would make an appearance in the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café. "Maybe," he responded, "But if we serve blueberry here, we will make a new type of pie for Hungry Bear." So in addition to fresh ingredients and a changing menu, it may be that the food served at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café will be exclusive to the bakery.
The lemon bar is deliciously tart and tangy and adorned with meringue. But my favorite sweet treat was the chocolate-and-caramel Mickey tart. This was a delicate crust shaped into a classic Mickey head shape and then filled with the most decadent chocolate and caramel ganache. The ganache had the consistency of thick peanut butter but once it is in your mouth, your brain instantly second guesses itself. Do I taste more chocolate or more caramel? You take another bite and ponder the same question. Unfortunately, I ran out of tart before I could decide, so I called it a tie and declared my tongue the winner.
Jolly Holiday Bakery Café has between 25 to 30 baked items on their menu. That's nearly double the items found at Blue Ribbon Bakery before it closed. Are all of your favorites from Blue Ribbon Bakery served at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café? Yes, as long as your favorite wasn't one of the sandwiches.
The new sandwiches served at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café are delicious, and like the rest of the menu, will rotate from time to time. I tried the hot Angus roast beef and the caprese sandwiches. Both were very good.
The roast beef was served on a toasted onion roll and topped with caramelized onions, horseradish aioli, and white cheddar. The flavors are well balanced, and the horseradish has just enough bite to stimulate your taste buds, but not so much that you singe your sinuses.
Caprese is a tomato and mozzarella pairing that is commonly found on the salad side of the menu. But the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café serves the classic combo between toasted focaccia bread with basil and lettuce, and dresses it with basil vinaigrette. The caprese is lighter than the Angus roast beef but no less flavorful. The basil vinaigrette is made with balsamic vinegar so it has that sharp acidic contrast to the creaminess of the mozzarella. All sandwiches are served with freshly made potato chips.
Jolly Holiday Bakery Café also serves soups and salads. The grilled vegetable and grain salad sounded the most interesting so I had to try it. This is a combination of mixed greens, roasted seasonal vegetables, barley, and ancient grain called spelt, tossed in a basil vinaigrette. Whether your New Year's resolution was to eat healthier, or to try something different and full of flavor, this is a good option for you. This salad is a good example that eating healthy doesn't have to be bland or boring. If delicious and healthy weren't enough to sell you on this salad, your dietician would probably tell you that the ingredients in this salad are filling, slow to digest, and should keep your blood sugar at an even level for hours after your meal.
Jolly Holiday Bakery Café serves the same fountain drinks and bottled water you find throughout the Disneyland Resort, as well as an assortment of espresso beverages similar to the ones served at Blue Ribbon Bakery. However, Jolly Holiday Bakery Café offers two unique beverages that, like other offerings on its menu, are unique and exclusive to this location: The first is Practically Perfect Punch, a, well, practically perfect punch. It's fruity with a bit of tartness and poured over ice, making it a refreshing beverage for a hot day.
The other exclusive beverage is Abuelita. Abuelita means "little grandmother" in Spanish, but it is also a type of hot chocolate drink popular in Latin American cultures. It's best described as a rich cocoa with cinnamon, but I would go a step further and say it's the perfect warm drink to enjoy while you are watching fireworks.
No matter what your opinion was of the yellow Victorian-style structure you used to pass on your way in and out of Adventureland, I believe that the opening of the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café was long overdue. And for those who are you are a serious food aficionados like me, it was also highly anticipated. As Chef Viallet rhetorically asked, "Where else can you have food like this with a view of the Matterhorn?"
Not only is the food delicious and unique, but venue is a great place to sit back, relax and people-watch. I'll even take Chef Viallet's question a step further and ask, where can you eat a Matterhorn Macaroon in the shadow of the Matterhorn? The answer is simple: At the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café.