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California Grill

#1 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 11:53 AM

Last night I went to the California Grill for the first time and wanted to share my thoughts. Overall, I thought the restaurant was good. I'm not sure I'd place it in the elite restaurants of WDW though. We had 2 courses and dessert. For my first course, I ordered sushi (Yellowfin Tuna Three Ways), which was good quality sushi, and very pretty to look at. However, for $21, the amount of sushi I got was a joke ($20 at most good sushi places should get you about 3 rolls). Again, good but small portion. Others at my table ordered the Triple Cheese flatbread, which was tasty and the pesto was great and not bad for $11.

For my main course, I ordered the Bison Filet while my table mates ordered the beef filet and the pork tenderloins. My bison was very tasty, although tiny. The filet was sliced into about 4 slices horizontally over a bed of risotto and augmented with turnips. Again, bison was tasty yet small. I didn't care much for the risotto and the turnips, I tried and they were not something I really liked at all.

I did try my wife's beef filet, which was good but nothing amazing. She ordered it medium-well, which is not what I would have ordered (medium works for me) but her mashed potatoes were good, although not as flavorful as I've had on WDW property.

For dessert, I had the Valrhona Chocolate Cake and it was amazing. Very good and tasty and something I could eat all day.

Overall, I liked dinner at the California Grill. The view is wonderful and the good was good. My problem was it wasn't one of the best meals I've had at WDW and didn't think it was worth the price. For about the $60 that JUST my meal cost, I don't feel like it was fair value. The sushi was completely overpriced and the bison wasn't a large enough portion (of bison, not the sides) to warrant $30 for it.
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#2 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 05 February 2010 - 09:49 PM

I'm assuming you find the Brown Derby a better experience than the California Grill? Thanks for the review. I think it's becoming more of trend across property to see portion sizes shrink. I can buy the healthy eating rationale, but please don't tell me cost savings has nothing to do with it.
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#3 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 06 February 2010 - 09:43 AM

View PostADP, on Feb 5 2010, 09:49 PM, said:

I'm assuming you find the Brown Derby a better experience than the California Grill? Thanks for the review. I think it's becoming more of trend across property to see portion sizes shrink. I can buy the healthy eating rationale, but please don't tell me cost savings has nothing to do with it.

It's been more than year since my last trip to the Brown Derby but I'd tend to agree with that.
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#4 User is offline   TQM 

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Posted 06 February 2010 - 10:19 AM

We love Cali Grill and my wife and I have a "date night" there every time we go to WDW. It's just a tradition for us ever since our honeymoon there in '99.
This past Sept, I had the ostrich which was fabulous; wifey usually gets the beef filet. We always, always get the cheese board.
It may have trended down, like most WDW restaurants, but for us it's still one of the best meals we have on property.
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#5 User is offline   HDLady 

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 08:22 PM

TQM, I agree with you. I think the food is of equal quality to Victoria and Albert's (although different in personality). Plus, I like the casual elegance of the Cali Grill. Fireworks from inside the restaurant or the outside balcony is an added plus. I usually order something unusual such as the ostrich because I know it will be prepared well but also love their staples like the pork tenderloin. Last time I was there I has the triple pots de creme for dessert (mango, cappuccino & vanilla) that was to die for. The protions are small but typical of a high end restaurant and it is pricey (hubby & I typically spend around $150 - $200 for the two of us for dinner depending upon the wine cost ) but we go there maybe 3 times a year to celebrate special occasions. My favorite place to eat at WDW.... My only beef is that if you eat there early when there are more kids, it tends to be loud....
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#6 User is offline   The Dark Lord of the Sith 

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 10:32 AM

We consider this our adult night out place. I agree it is pricey, but the view is great. Last time we were there we could watch both the fireworks at MK and from Epcot. While I groan each time I get the check, I'm always looking forward to going back.
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#7 User is offline   Jeanine 

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 02:15 AM

View PostQuickGold, on Feb 5 2010, 08:53 AM, said:

For my first course, I ordered sushi (Yellowfin Tuna Three Ways), which was good quality sushi, and very pretty to look at. However, for $21, the amount of sushi I got was a joke ($20 at most good sushi places should get you about 3 rolls). Again, good but small portion.

For my main course, I ordered the Bison Filet while my table mates ordered the beef filet and the pork tenderloins. My bison was very tasty, although tiny. The filet was sliced into about 4 slices horizontally over a bed of risotto and augmented with turnips. Again, bison was tasty yet small. I didn't care much for the risotto and the turnips, I tried and they were not something I really liked at all.

I did try my wife's beef filet, which was good but nothing amazing. She ordered it medium-well, which is not what I would have ordered (medium works for me) but her mashed potatoes were good, although not as flavorful as I've had on WDW property.

For dessert, I had the Valrhona Chocolate Cake and it was amazing. Very good and tasty and something I could eat all day.

Overall, I liked dinner at the California Grill. The view is wonderful and the good was good. My problem was it wasn't one of the best meals I've had at WDW and didn't think it was worth the price. For about the $60 that JUST my meal cost, I don't feel like it was fair value. The sushi was completely overpriced and the bison wasn't a large enough portion (of bison, not the sides) to warrant $30 for it.


Well I did say that I'd never had the Tuna Three Ways because we always order the rolls. Maybe it's the California part, but sushi out here, outside of the all-you-can-eat places, legitimately runs close to that expensive. The other issue is that tuna is one of those fishes that varies wildly in its price per pound depending on the quality. For sushi-quality tuna at the Japanese markets out here, you could easily pay upwards of $50 per pound, so the price/volume ratio is not necessarily all that predictable.

As far as the rest, I hardly think you can hold it against them that you don't like turnips, or that Marissa likes her steak more well done than you do. At the end of the day, while I would certainly concede that the food is vastly overpriced there, I don't think the markup is proportionately as bad as say, the ubiquitous $7 chicken nuggets that must cost a total of $0.50 worth of raw materials.

Note that, of course, the one thing you did order that I recommended was appropriately awesome.
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#8 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 11:51 AM

I understand some of your points Jeanine. I think the biggest issue I had was that the food was good, but not great. I know people rave about the view and everything, but for me, the food and service you receive are the most important things and everything else revolves around it. I'd venture to say the food at Jiko and Citricos were better tasting and better values.
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#9 User is offline   Jeanine 

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 12:09 AM

I know you keep raving about Citricos, but for the life of me, I don't get it. Granted, I only ate there once, but I thought the food was frankly kind of pedestrian for the prices, and the portion sizes there were probably among the smallest I've noted at WDW.

I also think the same thing about Flying Fish, however, so tastes differ.
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#10 User is offline   syndony 

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 07:14 AM

California Grill and renovate the space, and re-create it, then it will be exciting and fresh. But it is always packed, with touristas, so makes and beats it's budgets, so will never change. I suppose the phrase "if it aint broke, dont fix it" hurts these two spots, because they could be the very catalyst that if done right, could begin to change the culinary stigma of Disney that it's the Culinary Armpit of the South...
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#11 User is offline   sarahzy 

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Posted 25 February 2010 - 12:40 PM

We went to the Cali Grille for my birthday in December. We had a really enjoyable meal and our server was great with the recommendations. She encouraged my husband and brother-in-law to try the ostrich, and they both said it was one of the best meals they've ever had. My husband and I got an order of the California Rolls, and agree that it was a small portion for the cost.

It was a very good meal and we'd definitely go back, but there are other restaurants we'd go back to first.
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