For this edition of What’s Cooking, I’ve got some exciting, and delicious, news to share about California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. This rooftop location sits atop the 15th floor of the resort and offers stunning views overlooking Magic Kingdom Park and Seven Seas Lagoon. From witnessing an unrivaled firework viewing or simply taking in the sights from above while enjoying an exquisite meal, it’s clear that California Grill is much more than your average restaurant.
And starting May 26, it will be offering an expansion of diverse plant-based dishes for you to enjoy! Whether you live a plant-based lifestyle or simply want to try something new, all of these new items are sure to satisfy you and your tastebuds.
Chef de Cuisine Daniel Sicilia, Chef Matthew Birch, and their culinary team have brought the flavor to these vegetable-centric courses. With inspirations from their backgrounds with fresh ingredients and farm-to-table menus, these chefs have embraced and encouraged creativity, innovation, and the rich history of this restaurant to create a true culinary experience that can’t be missed.
Without further ado, let’s get to the new plant-based menu at California Grill, shall we?
These new offerings begin strong with some delicious appetizers to kick off your dining experience on the right foot. The Florida Peach and Raspberry Salad highlight some of Florida’s fresh, bright, and flavorful ingredients by featuring grilled and fresh peaches, raspberry variations, steel-cut oat granola tart, red onion, and a whipped raspberry vinaigrette.
The house-made Vegetable Dumplings are made with a Doenjang miso-cola onion sauce, radish, crispy garlic-chili oil, and pickled lotus root. Its sauces and accompaniments touch on various parts of the palette, like sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami, and embrace inspirations from both Asian culture and Californian cuisine. Chef Assistant Huong Lee, fondly known as Mother by the team, even helped Chef Daniel make this dish a reality by perfecting this crystal dumpling dough.
Now onto the entrées. First, we have the House-made Bucatini Cacio e Pepe, a fresh take on spring flavors with sunflower, allium, crispy sunchokes, charred green onions, toasted onions, and a sunflower seed-ramp pistou along with delicious house-made bucatini topped with a luxurious cashew cream sauce – wow!
The other new plant-based entrée is the Peas and Carrots Risotto with heirloom carrots, English peas, green garlic, confit onion, and sweet carrot foam. This elevated take on a classic dish enhances fresh flavors and ingredients in different and creative ways by the chefs, particularly Chef Matthew Birch who crafted the dish to look like everything is sprouting up from the ground. What a way to grow the menu.
Last but certainly not least, we have desserts! For a sweet finish, the Peanut and Banana Torte is a twist on the classic PB&J. It combines shortbread, peanut ganache, miso-caramel, nut crumbles, and caramelized bananas. I don’t know about you, but this dish sounds, and looks, incredible.
A spin on the “Banana Fritters” that were featured at the restaurant back in 2013, the Lavender Sugar Donuts is a special 50th Anniversary item that is now home on the plant-based menu, featuring some updated fresh ingredients in season. It has a coconut frozen dessert, blueberry gin jam, and pistachio crumble. And not to mention the presentation is beautiful!
Don’t forget, the anniversary celebrations and treats will continue through March of 2023, so you’ve still got time to enjoy them. Be sure to use #DisneyWorld50 to share your favorites, like the Lavender Sugar Donuts!
Not only does California Grill have this exciting plant-based menu, it also has new seasonal dishes, two of which include the Florida Rock Shrimp Salad and the EARidescent Crème Brûlée. The Florida Rock Shrimp Salad has a history with California Grill, paying homage to former Chef de Cuisine Brian Piasecki’s signature salad for the restaurant. This updated version has similar flavors while lightening it up and adding texture with hearts of palm, petite lettuce, yuzu, avocado, jicama, and crisp rice crackers topped with a ginger vinaigrette.
The EARidescent Crème Brûlée serves up a pineapple-mango compote, hibiscus meringue, hibiscus crystals, and coconut and has become quite the fan-favorite with its glimmer and shimmer celebrating the 50th Anniversary. Pastry Sous Chef Amber Vega took inspiration from California with the hibiscus and tropical flavors that lighten up the taste for spring and summer! Who doesn’t love a little sparkle with some fresh flavors?
There you have it, the new plant-based menu and exciting updates coming soon. If you’re a foodie, California Grill is ready for you with all these enhancements to the ever-evolving menu! And if you’re a wine lover, don’t forget to take advantage of pairing suggestions from the experts for these new dishes. Enjoy!
(Note: All offerings are subject to change.)