As with my 40th birthday, CD and I had dinner at the California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort on January 23. It has a number of things going for it, most notably the food and the fireworks. It's helpful to check the hours at the Magic Kingdom before making a reservation. Ideally you want to be seated before the fireworks begin so you can take your glass of wine and someone to keep you warm on a cool evening out to the observation deck to see the show. We stayed inside two years ago but there's a good amount of glare from the windows. Not so this year. As we finished our entrees we ordered dessert and headed outside. We were not disappointed. The fireworks were amazing and coming from Pittsburgh, where Zambelli fireworks shows could easily leave us jaded, we know our fireworks.
But this isn't fireworks Friday, so back to the food. After being swiftly seated at the same table we had two years ago (we did not request it), we started with some lovely sashimi. The salmon and tuna were exceptional. We chose braised veal cheeks for our main course. Oh.My. I had heard cheeks were worth a try and my sources were not kidding. I like most anything that can be put on top of mashed potatoes but from now on, not much is going to compare.
On our way to the fireworks we let our server know we wanted the chocolate-orange lava cake, which is made to order and takes 20 minutes. Our timing was perfect, as it was waiting for us when we returned. Chocolate and orange is one of my favorite flavor combinations so they would have had to really screw it up for me to not like it. It was a great ending to a really nice meal.
The only problem with the California Grill is the noise. It's a huge room with an open kitchen. There are always a few kids there, up too late and in a place that isn't overly kid-friendly. While I don't think kids should be banned, it would be nice if parents could think before they make late reservations. California Grill is great, but if the only reservation you can get is 8pm and your kids are under five, go somewhere else or call the fairy godmother or one of the other in-room babysitting services. It's good, but not worth making your kid(s), yourself, and your fellow diners miserable.