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California Grill Celebrates 15 Years at the Top

Pam Brandon

by , Food Writer, Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort

California Grill
Has it really been 15 years since one of Disney’s most talked-about restaurants opened at the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort? And we bet plenty of you have a favorite California Grill dish (or story).

Our menu favorite? Yoshie’s sushi, on the menu since the restaurant opened May 15, 1995. Or maybe the grilled pork tenderloin with goat cheese, and the crisp flatbreads…we figure if they take those away, there will be a mutiny on the 15th floor.

Chef Brian Piasecki has been running the CalGrill kitchen since January 2009, focusing on seasonal (ah, those heirloom tomatoes) and local products when possible, and coloring outside the box with dishes such as seared bison and a divine lobster salad with yuzu mayo. But we know that it’s the dazzling location high atop the Contemporary with a bird’s eye view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks that really takes the experience over the top. And manager and sommelier Bridget Sherren showcases a stellar wine list and runs a top-notch team in the dining room.

When you can’t snag a reservation, ask for a seat at the counter in front of the kitchen where you can watch the sushi chef or the action in the on-stage kitchen as dishes come together with panache and precision.

Bartender Ray came up with a cocktail just for the 15th, and named it the “Golden Gate” for one of California’s most enduring symbols. If you can’t make it to the top for California Grill’s version, you can shake it up at home. And make a toast to 15 more years for the California Grill!

Golden Gate Cocktail
1 1/4 ounces Remy Martin VSOP Cognac
3/4 ounce Amaretto Disaronno
1/2 ounce cranberry juice
Orange slice, for garnish
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass. Squeeze the slice of orange into the drink.

Comments

  • I am going to California grill this weekend. There are no reservations available but we’d like to sit at the bar. What time should we get there to assure a seat for the fire works? You have to be cleared to come up on the 2nd floor. Also I am told you can have dinner at the bar.

  • We visit every trip and are never ever disappointed. The California Grill has helped us celebrate many special occasions such as a 30th birthday and a special anniversary. The place would not be the same without Walter either – the best server in The World as far as we are concerned!!

  • Chef Brian was the executive chef at Le Cellier in 2005 when I worked there on the international program, and I’m thrilled to hear that he’s now running the kitchen at one of the most celebrated restaurants on property (not that Le Cellier was lacking in accolades, either!). His passion for food and high standards were what made serving Le Cellier’s guests an absolute pleasure.

  • One of my fave restaurants EVER! It hasn’t aged a bit!!!

  • We’re going for our 34th Anniversary in August! Can’t wait!

  • I’ll be there next week! I’m so excited! I do have a question though. If I’ve got a 9:25PM reservation, and Wishes is at 9PM, can you see the fireworks from the bar area and would I be able to sit there before dinner?

    • Hi Shelley, plan to arrive 10 minutes before 9M “Wishes,” order a cocktail and head out to the deck! (The bar seats are usually full by 9PM.) Enjoy!

  • We went a couple years ago when we were staying at the Contemporary and enjoyed the food but our view left something to be desired. So we’re going to try again this year for our anniversary while staying at the Bay Lake Tower.

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