Walt Disney World
There were so many fantastic places that I've had the pleasure of visiting in the magical realm of Walt Disney World and this place is one of my most memorable with Be Our Guest being a close contender.
Before leaving Disney World last year I had a reservation at California Grill - A restaurant known for it's exquisite fine dining that has been on the very top of Disney's Contemporary Resort - my home for five months when I was there.
Recently the place was refurbished and has opened it's doors again to reveal a new lavish and sleek wine bar and restaurant. It's new opening has made this place hard to come by for reservations by at least a few months in advance or the off-chance of a cancellation or if you don't mind sitting at their bar for a pricey meal then go for it!
To begin like with most of the Disney dining experiences you have to check-in to a host or hostess for your reservation. For California Grill you are greeted at a podium desk on the second level away from all the hustle and bustle of the Disney merchandising and stores. It's on the ballroom level and has an executive feel to it when you get there. You're given a pager and estimate wait time on when a table is available and once that does buzz off like crazy then it's a quick elevator ride all the way up to the top floor to the restaurant.
It seems that every time Miss Giggles tries to order under her surname people mistake her asian name for "Young" when really it isn't spelt anywhere near that. She let's it slide on most occasion but I always tease her afterwards to say "Oh Miss Giggles, you look so YOUNG!" and this joke has been on-going for months prior to this evening. It was even more funnier (to me anyways!) when I overheard two Cast Members that commented when we walked past them saying that "They [us two girls] do look 'Young'."
We walk past another podium and a stainless steel cabinet wall all set at the right room temperature for the wines encased inside them. To the left is the bar and kitchen with the viewing deck. On the right of the restaurant are lofty half-booth tables and other seats that have the prime overlook of the Magic Kingdom theme park.
A broad wine bar is tied next to their open space kitchen. There's a huge barrel of their selected wines and most of the Cast Members are sommeliers to cater for the 250 different wines that they currently hold. Of the 250, only about 80 of the wines are sold by the glass - it's really snazzy.
This restaurant boasts perfect views of the Magic Kingdom area. It's panoramic views showcase the three great nearby resorts - Wilderness Lodge, Polynesian and Grand Floridian that are near the man-made lagoon Walt Disney himself envisioned. Then there's Magic Kingdom itself all lit-up in it's colourful glory every night. From our table we see the Cinderella Castle glimmering blue and white lights whilst we wait for the 10PM fireworks extravaganza to begin.
For starters we order a flatbread pizza to share - a rectangular slab of warm toasty bread with a sprinkling of micro herbs, beefsteak tomatoes, mozarella and a bit of basil. Our server also provides us with a basket of complimentary house bread and butter before our main course begins.
For our main course Miss Giggles has the Seafood Stew - a melody of different pieces of fishy friends (... sorry Nemo! I can hear Dory telling me loudly "fish are friends, not food!") in a tomato-based stew. She enjoys all of it, noting how especially yummy the lobster tail was.
I tried the pork done in two ways; soft chunks of slow-roasted pork tenderloin with goat's cheese polenta and mushrooms then a lacquered pork belly with applesauce. Both equally amazing to try out!
For dessert I tried their banana-stuffed cinnamon fritters with toasted caramel marshmallows complemented with a Trio of Dipping Sauces. Miss Giggles is a chocoholic and chooses the chocolate cake with a nutella filling inside along with meringue and mint chantilly.
Then the lights begin to dim in the dining room and the Disney Wishes fireworks music fills the air as the show begins. There's a viewing deck outside but we had our meals in front of us so we didn't move and watched from our table. It was a memorable moment for me to watch my last 2013 Disney fireworks since I knew I wouldn't be back to Florida for a good few years. I miss the Disney life already and it's only been about 2 months back home!