31 Oct 2009

Florida WDW - Oct 09 - Day 3 - Eve

California Grill

Its been quite a long time since our last visit to the California Grill, we seem to have missed it out on recent trips so it's time to return.

We have rather a late ADR for nine in the evening so after getting showered and changed we set out for the MK bus depot; the "motor coach" driver taking a completely different route than last night's trip obviously. On arriving we change to the Monorail for one stop only and we are soon in the Contemporary. Checking in at the California Grill's reception we are told they are running 20mins behind and that someone will take us up in the private lift. About ten minutes later the lift finally appears to take us up and the CM explains it's rather a busy night.

As no tables are yet ready and the bar and lounge area is packed to capacity we are shown to some spare chairs which have been lined up along the length of one wall and given a bleeper, giving a signature dining room's lounge area the appearance of a rather depressing doctors waiting area. It's a pity that it's so cold outside because both roof top viewing areas are actually open, we take a quick look at the MK before diving back in for warmth.

Eventually though we are seated on the kitchen side with a nice window seat overlooking the lagoon and park. Things are improving but it's already past ten o'clock.

We start with a lovely flat bread Triple Cheese - Pecorino, Asiago, and Provolone with Sun-dried Tomato and Arugula Pesto. The dough recipe has altered somewhat since last time; the texture used to be almost like a cross between a thin Nan and a Pizza Dough but now it has been refined even more and almost has an element of filo to it. Its absolutely delicious. I can highly recommend the Sushi here but as I practically had raw fish for dinner last night I decide to skip the experience and order the Day boat Scallops with House-made Gnocchi, Sustainable Pears, Brown Butter and Bacon Emulsion which are cooked to perfection, admittedly practically raw inside but soft and heavenly with a wonderful caramelised exterior. The sauce has a strong veal base with a smokey kick from a pancetta reduction. It's powerful and does wonderful things in the mouth whilst never overpowering the scallops.

One thing I admire at The California Grill is the ability for the menu to be kept tight and compact. They do a few main dishes extremely well. However I am going to gently complain here; I was slightly disappointed to see that one of the meat choices tonight is an Ostrich dish. As far as I am concerned Ostrich has no place on a signature restaurants menu; it's a gimmick food along with Alligator and Croc that often gets placed on restaurants menus because they don't have the imagination to create a proper dish. Put it on as an extra or a special (if you must) but don't drop a classic dish in its place please. Rant over.

Jackie chooses a pasta dish tonight, a divine Wild Mushroom Ravioli. Intense is not a strong enough word for the explosion of flavour that occurs with each bite, the sauce is simply heaven. However the Pasta itself could have been a rolled, cut and crimped just a little thinner to balance the dish better.

Dessert for myself is Cheese as usual which is basically a slightly larger selection than last night's at Narcoosees. Jackie has Molten chocolate lava cake which has a slight crunch to the outside but a smoothly oozing interior, very nicely done, perfect. A Bottle of NZ Sauvignon and Sonoma Zinfandel take on the wine duties followed by coffees and espresso.

Looking back over my old review my opinion of the California Grill remains about the same. Great, often superb food in a rather chaotic environment with some elements(the unromantic, over bright, ceiling lighting for instance) that are just not quite good enough for a signature restaurant.

It's after midnight when we leave and though the MK is still open for an EE tonight till 1am, tomorrow morning is an Early Entry at Epcot; so we circle the Lagoon on the Monorail and return from MK Bus depot.

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