Sunday, July 27, 2014

California Grill - Disney's Contemporary Resort

Last night, my husband and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary at California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort. This wasn't our first signature dining experience at Disney World, but it was definitely our best.  

After being seated, I was given the sushi menu for guests with allergy and dietary considerations.  Not being a huge fan of sushi, I decided to pass.  When I told our server that I had celiac and couldn't eat gluten, he assured me that my special dietary needs were "easy," and I could pretty much order any entree I was interested in, because they are all made from scratch and can be modified if they aren't naturally gluten free.  A chef never came out to speak to me, but our server was knowledgeable about the gluten free options on the menu, and if he wasn't sure of anything, he went and asked.  Every time one of our dishes was delivered, I was told that my food was an "allergy" dish, which made for a worry-free evening.  When my friend Shelley dined at California Grill in June, a chef came out to speak to her without her asking for one.  After reading my friend Sarah's review of California Grill on Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at WDW, I didn't expect a visit from the chef, and I didn't ask for one.  

The only disappointment of the evening was the gluten free bread.  The GNI rolls were not heated well, so I only took two small bites for the purpose of tasting the butter, which was good.  

For an appetizer, I chose the sweet corn and halibut soup, which contained sweet corn, spiced Alaskan halibut, and ancho oil.  It was flavorful, and slightly sweet from the corn. I would definitely order this soup again.  

My husband enjoyed his stone fruit and kale salad with peaches, cherries, goat cheese, and a cherry vinaigrette. 

We both ordered the same entree, the oak-fired filet of beef with Zellwood sweet corn risotto, tomato butter, grilled corn relish, and popcorn shoots.  

My only complaint about the dish was that I could have used some more tomato butter.  It was so delicious, I used it all up before finishing my filet. 

My meat was cooked perfectly, seasoned well, and was nice and tender.  The sweet corn risotto was creamy and flavorful, and I loved the grilled corn relish that accompanied the dish.  

There are three gluten free options on the dessert menu, the chocolate pudding cake, vanilla creme brulee, and blueberry-lemon cheesecake.  Our server recommended the blueberry-lemon cheesecake, but I knew it was a sugar free dessert, so I decided to pass.  When I asked about the sugar substitute, he told me they use Splenda.  My friend Shelley ordered this dessert in June, and said it was delicious. 

I chose the chocolate pudding cake, which is described as a luscious chocolate cake with nutella filling, meringue kisses, and chantilly cream.  This dessert was truly decadent, but I only ate half of it because it was so rich.  With a generous scoop of vanilla gelato and some whipped cream, I would have been able to eat more of my dessert, but the bittersweet chocolate was too intense for me after I finished my chantilly cream and meringue kisses.  

The texture of the pudding cake was amazing!  When I dug into it, chocolate oozed out, and it was so velvety smooth.  Being more of a milk chocolate girl, I wish it was made with semisweet instead of bittersweet chocolate.  

For our anniversary, we were given the signature dessert of California Grill, the vanilla creme brulee.  It was perfectly rich and creamy, and definitely one of the best creme brulees I have ever had.

My husband ordered the seasonal tasting, which was a trio of peach desserts that were not gluten free.  He said it was one of the best desserts he has ever had in a restaurant. 

Before we left, we were told that we could bring our receipt back to the restaurant later in the evening, so we could view the fireworks from the California Grill Lounge or the outside observation deck.  We usually go to Disney's Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue on New Year's Eve, but in 2015, I am definitely going to consider making reservations for California Grill.  It would be an incredible spot to ring in the New Year!

You can read more about California Grill, make advance dining reservations, and view their menu on Disney's website here.

June 2016 Update - You can read my most recent review of California Grill here.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at California Grill?


  1. Hello Alexis,
    We went to California Grill last night and after reading your blog, was so excited and knew exactly what I wanted to order. I had the same appie, meal and dessert as you did (creme brûlée) and it was all outstanding. The service was exceptional and the chef even brought me a version of my husband's charcuterie plate that I could sample because a part of it wasn't gluten free. This is the Disney difference! I had tears in my eyes because I wasn't expecting that treatment!! To top it off, we watched Wishes from the observation deck! It was the most magical, unforgettable evening! Thanks so much for all you do!! Gabriella

  2. I just found your blog and it is a GOD SEND. Omg, thank you for documenting everything so well! I am not celiac, but extremely sensitive to gluten after negative side effects of the Depo-provera birth control shot (seriously - ugh). I had already booked all of our vacation (& the majority of our dining reservations) before I found out about having to go gluten free.
    So my question to you is, when you make reservations, do you note that you are gluten free, or do you just tell them upon arrival?
    Again - you are an absolute angel for writing this blog! With 2 trips coming up in the next 6 months, I was getting so nervous about eating (even though, I really have no reason to - Disney is amazing with this stuff!).

    1. Hi Haley! I usually note my gluten "allergy" in my reservation, but you can tell them when you check in to each restaurant. Enjoy your trips! :-)