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California Grill

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5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0 Outstanding
4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0 Recommended
3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0 OK, but not great
2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0 Disappointing
1/5.01/5.01/5.01/5.01/5.0 Poor

Dine at an authentic "California Style" restaurant located at the top (15th floor) of Disney's Contemporary Resort while overlooking the Magic Kingdom.


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Average Reviewer Rating:   3.9 out of 53.9 out of 53.9 out of 53.9 out of 53.9 out of 5  Number of California Grill Reviews: 19
4.0/5.04.0/5.04.0/5.04.0/5.04.0/5.0   September 16, 2010
Reviewer: tabbypanther13 Houston, Texas     June 07, 2011
We loved the experience! The food was great and the servers were very friendly and ready to serve. We had an early reservation (around 5:45pm). There are are two great things about this place: 1) the view is amazing! you can see the Magic Kingdom off in the distance (where we sat). 2) if you ate there you can come back to watch the Wishes Fireworks from their viewing deck! This was also amazing.
I am glad that we went early because the night time crowd was a little snooty. When we went back to view the wishes fireworks the wait time (even if you had a reservation) was extremely long and the people were a little too cranky.
But as a whole the experence was great!
1.0/5.01.0/5.01.0/5.01.0/5.01.0/5.0   May 12 and 13, 2009
Reviewer: ForU2know Chicago, IL U.S.A.     May 26, 2009
During our recent anniversary celebration at WDW, we scheduled four dinner reservations at the Contemporary Inn's California Grill during our week-long trip (rooming at Grand Floridian). We love the place that much; enjoying fabulous meals, wine, and service numerous times within each of the six visits made to WDW in the previous nine years. Their food, we tell friends, is five-star; top notch; heaven on a fork.

However, this year's visit could be our last to California Grill for dinner. We had two miserable dinners in succession, and cancelled our last two reservations. Something big has changed. The menu still has some of the familiar offerings -- the Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Oak-fired filet of Beef -- but a longstanding favorite is no more: their selection of Brick Oven Fired Flatbreads. If a one and a half planet option had been available, THAT would be our rating; but certainly not two planets!

We ordered different meals our first night, the entrees disappointed. The filet of beef was too heavily salted to be enjoyed or eaten, and the grouper was slightly above room temperature while the vegetables below it were steaming hot. We were told the chef cooks the fish to a medium-rare heat unless instructed otherwise; thats why it wasnt warmer. Hmm... the fish had been cooked through, but cold. But per the explanation we'd received, we reordered.

The filet wasn't salted on the second service, while the fish was now too undercooked. We requested to please fire this just five more minutes, which should have allowed us to dine together. INSTEAD, nothing come back for about twenty minutes. So one of us ate without the other having any meal before them... They redid the entire grouper order (NOT what the customer requested!).

When the fish finally returned, it was fully cooked but the vegetables beneath were not of the same wonderful quality the first two servings had been. In fact, had they offered to leave the vegetables on either the first or second service, that would have been a good gesture.

We ended-up spending over 2 hours simply to have an entree each; and over 3 1/2 hours from our seating through dessert and coffee (sashimi and cocktails, or coffee and dessert). It derailed our evening entirely.

The manager and server were as good as they could be over it. But alas, being on Disney's Deluxe Dining Plan, we'd already prepaid for dinner, so "comping" wasn't an option to help wipe away that disastrous first dinner tab ($170.00 + gratuity). We also tip generously, in cash.

Because the front of the house staff had been so gracious about the ordeal, we returned the next night, certain that the first evening had been a fluke and that we had nothing to worry about.

We both ordered the pork tenderloin, a meal each of us has enjoyed on numerous visits over the past six years; I substituted carrots for the polenta because I'd ordered a cheese appetizer. My appetizer (Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, shiitake mushrooms and basil) came out with parmesan and another (?asiago) cheese grated onto it. I do not care for parmesan cheese. I explained this to the server, and noted to him that there was no mention of parmesan or additional cheeses for this item as it appeared on the menu, otherwise I would have asked them not to be included. I requested that another be prepared without the added cheeses atop. He wondered if we might just "push them aside?" I pointed-out that I'd be losing all the other wonderful flavors -- tomato, pesto and spices; because the grated cheese was covering everything (the waiter earned distinct demerits for his insensitivity). The second service on the goat cheese ravioli was fabulous ... even worth the inconvenience of waiting twice.

Then the entrees came. Again, we were served salty food. The pork was salted; too much for our liking, but edible at least (NOT enjoyable). My carrots were another story. They were served in little diagonal disks. I'd expected something more "earthy" in presentation, but the problem was this: each little orange disk was carrot turned salt lick; entirely inedible. Each little sliver of carrot was so salty as to be entirely devoid of carrot TASTE.

What has happened to this fabulous restaurant is beyond our comprehension. Some of the staff have been there for many years; we spotted some familiar faces this trip and still recall their excellent service from years past. But the food has suffered. Each meal we enjoyed over the years had been a harmony of fabulous flavor; pure delight. Proper food prep does not include over seasoning so as to overwhelm on the taste buds. The food served at California Grill was never salted as such before; if at all, it was quite subtle -- so as you would barely notice it. We are hoping things improve before our next WDW visit. And we'll remain hopeful, but we might share a meal to play it safe if we dine there again, just to ensure that we can dine together.
5.0/5.05.0/5.05.0/5.05.0/5.05.0/5.0   October 26, 2007
Reviewer: Inkyprintz Schaumburg, IL     February 18, 2008
We made reservations for dinner at the California Grill for Friday, October 26, 2007. First let me give you a little background about us and why we were dining there. My boyfriend is a bit of a foodie. I'm not as adventurous and he is but I do like to try some new things. We both enjoy dining out and don't mind paying more for good food, good service and a pleasant atmosphere. However, in my 30 plus trips to Disney parks, I've never been one to try too many of the resort restaurants. I usually prefer to spend more time in the parks rather than to leave a park, get dressed up and make my way to another resort. Also, I work in the travel industry and I'm usually booking a reduced room rate so I don't qualify for the Dining Plan. When I travel with my sister, we usually aren't too keen to pay over $100 out of pocket for dinner when there are so many other things to spend money on! But the California Grill was on my boyfriend's list of restaurants that he really wanted to try. If I'm being honest, I grudgingly went along with the plan. It was important to him and as much as I hate to admit it, it's not all about me! Our reservation was for our last night at WDW. The week before we had experienced a lot of rain, higher than normal humidity and crowds during the previous week so it would've been nice to run around and do some of the things we hadn't been able to get to. I did not have the best mindset that night. I was sort of just thinking, "OK-Lets get this over." Our reservation was for a little later in the evening so that we'd be able to view the Hallo-wishes fireworks from the viewing deck. We checked in about 20-30 minutes early and were sent right up to the restaurant. As we stepped out of the elevator, my first impression of the restaurant was, "Oh no. This is not good!" The noise level was deafening! There were kids running around and the front area by the bar was packed. The noise was just bouncing off the walls. We didn't have to wait long to be seated and as the hostess led us to our table on the other side of the restaurant, we were pleased to leave the noise behind us! We were seated at a very pleasant table with the windows facing the Grand Floridian behind us and the kitchen in front of us. Our server was extremely friendly and very welcoming. I am not a wine drinker due to allergies and I did not feel pressured in any way to order wine, drinks, or anything else for that matter. We both started out with the Lobster Bisque with brandy whipped cream...and it was dee-lish! I'm a soup person and I could've have made a meal out of a big bowl of the soup and the crusty bread. My entrée was Grilled Pork Tenderloin with creamy goat cheese polenta, zinfandel glaze, and sage. Again it was excellent! I could've licked the plate clean! My boyfriend had the Oak-fired Filet of Beef with root vegetables and teriyaki barbeque sauce. It was so good, he's still thinking about the tasty veggies! I really didn't have room for dessert but everything was so good up to this point that I just had to have something. My boyfriend chose the Year of a Million Dreams- Honey Crunch Cake with Chantilly cream, oven-roasted golden pineapple and crunch candy crumble, which he enjoyed tremendously. I had the Green Apple Trio- apple jalousie tart with caramel foam, green apple shooter, and green apple meringue with apple sorbet. It was all good but I could eat that apple sorbet by the bucket! When my boyfriend made the reservation he mentioned that we were celebrating my birthday so when the dessert came it included a little white chocolate HAPPY BIRTHDAY sign. Also, at one point a man came to our table and took our photo. Later on he presented it to me with a Dreams certificate for my Birthday. It was such a nice touch! When it came time for the MK fireworks, we got up and moved outside to the viewing area. We had been to 2 of the Halloween party nights at the Magic Kingdom that week so it was fun to see the Hallo-wishes fireworks from a different perspective. As you can tell, The California Grill won me over. I began the night not very excited about going. But I ended the night I was very pleased with every aspect of our dining experience. I cant wait to go again!

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