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California Grill Chef Shares Some New Dishes for Restaurant’s Fall Debut at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Pam Brandon

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

Still no exact opening date, but “early fall” is the best guess for the re-imagined California Grill to debut at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Meanwhile, Chef Brian Piasecki is working on the new menu in an off-site kitchen, snapping photos like these as he creates deliciousness.

He has a few favorites, like the three-meat meatballs he shared at a recent media event. “We’re really trying to think of creative new ways to use our wood-fired oven,” says Piasecki. Those meatballs are one way, with pork, lamb and veal spiced with house-made harissa. An oaky, crispy crust makes them perfect for dredging in Meyer-lemon-scented chimichurri with a side of marinated picholine olives and a little orzo. “Perfect for sharing,” says Piasecki.

Piasecki is sourcing as much as possible locally, like the Cape Canaveral prawns, “still alive when they arrive at the kitchen door,” he says. He roasts them head on in the wood-fired oven and serves with oven-roasted tomatoes, charred lemon and a handful of peppery baby arugula. (And he’s using the shells to make prawn oil.) Light, crisp, contemporary cooking.

He’s playing around with house-made charcuterie – prosciutto, sausage, rillettes, butter and mousse, all made with duck and served with house-made pickles, chutneys and an earthy whole-grain mustard.

A delectable new entrée includes beets roasted three ways with pan-seared halibut, and the beets share a starring role on the plate: salt-crusted and oven-roasted, with beet syrup and beet microgreens. Pair that with parsnip “silk” and a rich macadamia nut vinaigrette for a sublime plate of healthful eating.

Speaking of fish, the kitchen will have new custom, cast-iron planchas (flat-top grills) just for cooking fish. “Dual temperature zones so we can sear the fish on one side, then slide to the other with a lower temperature for cooking the rest of the way,” says Piasecki. State of the art and a chef’s dream come true.

The new kitchen also expands the sushi area with a classic look, including a glass case to showcase the beautiful seafood. A fun new feature is a 12-course “omakase” menu, which essentially leaves the selection up to the chef, with a chance to show off a little and showcase some unusual presentations you won’t taste otherwise.

Aside from the kitchen, new tables and chairs are arriving, and the new lighting fixtures are “spectacular!” says Piasecki. Stay tuned for updates on the dining room.


  • Please,Please, Pleeeeessssse! Let us know when the CG will open for reservations. Can you email notice? F&W festival begins 27 Sep that would be a good time!!!

  • We can’t wait to eat at California grill again. When can we make a reservation? We’re coming to Disney World for Christmas this year! Thanks.

  • “A fun new feature is a 12-course “omakase” menu”…it is looking like this is what I’ve been looking for might be the place for my parents’ 50th anniversary celebration next spring! Hope to see more info very SOON about the new omakase menu so I can get this booked, and maybe a wine pairing option to cap it all off?

  • Hi Pam,
    The California Grill is literally our favorite restaurant in the world! Will there still be an open lounge area with little tables for drinks and appetizers?

  • Chef Brian, How about some amazing vegetarian dishes?? Thanks!!

  • Chef Brian is my kind of Contemporary creative master with the selections you have shown and would love to see what he does with scallops. Coconino Cove founding designer and member.

  • I keep hoping it will be open when we go in Oct for my 50th birthday <3

  • The dishes look spectacular! I can’t wait to see the new dining room and oh the view…
    I’m looking forward to calling the Contemporary home for the DisneySMMoms Celebration!


  • Is there a date that they will start taking reservations?

  • They all look lovely, but will there be some of the old favourites on the menu too or will it all totally new? CG is a must for us every trip – for a particular server as well as a firm favourite dish or two and would be a little sad to see everything gone…

  • Can’t wait to see more and make a reservation – hopefully soon

  • How does one get on the reservation waiting list? I’m told that the reservation system does not accept reservations at this time. I’ll be in WDW in early fall.

    • There is no wait list. We’ll announce soon when the restaurant will begin taking reservations. Thanks!

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