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PRIORITY SEATING SPOTLIGHT
California Grill
Last Updated: March 2005

At Walt Disney World Resort, Award-Winning California Grill Takes Diners on a Culinary Adventure

California Grill. Copyright 2005. Wall Disney Company

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Opened in 1995, California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort evolves continuously, with Chef John State wowing diners each night with a menu full of memorable flavors.

"We'll cook only what's in season," State said. "I spend a significant portion of each day seeking out growers and vendors that can deliver the fattest fava beans, the most awesome asparagus, tree-ripened stone fruit."

California Grill classics, like the popular roast pork and polenta, remain on the menu, but State adds seasonal favorites like Copper River king salmon or halibut steamed in a banana leaf with a spicy vinaigrette. All meals are made from scratch in a stage kitchen divided into seven stations, including a sushi bar, a brick pizza oven, a wood-burning grill and a dessert shop. .

"Taking the natural flavor of the finest ingredients and fortifying and intensifying it may take a great deal of time and effort," State said, "but that first bite proves every moment is worth it."

California Grill. Copyright 2005. Walt Disney Company

Co-managing with Chef State is general manager Bridget Sherren, a graduate of the Advanced Course of the Court of Master Sommeliers currently preparing for the Master level. "Wine is an essential element in the dining experience at California Grill," explains Sherren. "And education without intimidation is one of our major goals." She updates daily a 100-item wine list, with every wine available by the glass.

The restaurant is popular with Walt Disney World guests, from honeymooners to business executives to families. In the dining room, educated servers make it their No. 1 priority to answer guests' questions. And they're coached daily on the best way to describe menu items and present the wine list.

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And in true Disney fashion, young diners get special attention. "They want to eat what grown-ups eat," said Chef State. He created a kids' menu with the help of his three young sons, ranging in age from 3 to 10. The most-requested kids' menu item? The grilled strip steak, served with mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetables. Made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese runs a close second. And an oven-fired flatbread with house-made tomato sauce and provolone cheese ($7.50), a favorite of his boys, replaces traditional pizza.

To check on when you can make your reservations for the California Grill go to the PS Report.

Last summer, Walt Disney World Dining introduced a new reservation check-in procedure for the California Grill. Guests must check in on the 2nd floor of the Contemporary Resort for dining at the California Grill. Guests will then be "escorted" to the restaurant by a cast member when their table is ready. No one will be able to go to the restaurant without first checking in on the 2nd floor. This is due to congestion in the California Grill area and the number of people wanting to see the fireworks from the restaurant and observation deck.

For those of you wishing to visit for drinks and dessert. A Disney Cast Member said people will still have to check in on the 2nd floor and be escorted. If the tables are all full at fireworks time, the guests that have not been taken up there will not be able to view them from the 14th floor.

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The PS Planning Guide is not affiliated with, maintained by, or in any way officially connected with the Walt Disney Company.
Copyrightę 2008 Scott L. Thomas All Rights Reserved.