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September 27, 2016

Brunch at the Top - California Grill

Deb's Digest Blog

Late last year, the Disney Parks Blog announced that a new "Brunch at the Top" dining experience would be starting at California Grill in February 2016.

I read the description with great interest, because I love a great brunch. But, I will admit, the $80 price tag had me stop and wonder. It seemed really expensive just for brunch.

Fast-forward to a couple months ago when friends we hadn't seen in a long time invited us to join them at, you guessed it, Brunch at the Top. We thought, "Sure, why not?"

So what exactly is Brunch at the Top? Let me say at the outset that this is a VIP experience. From the moment we arrived at the Contemporary we were treated like extra-special guests, which took us somewhat by surprise. At the security gate, the guard smiled and told us that with this brunch we received complimentary valet parking, and we were to proceed up and to the right. He then instructed us to go to the second-floor check-in for California Grill. Valet parking? Complimentary? At the California Grill? Our eyes lit up and we started to get excited -- not just about seeing our friends, but about what was starting to feel like a very special experience.

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We arrived before our friends, texted them, and headed to the second floor to check-in. The cast member smiled and greeted us warmly. We explained we were early... she quickly said, "No problem, you can wait upstairs for your friends." Sounded good to us.

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Once the elevator doors opened, we were greeted by wonderfully soothing sounds of a pair of musicians, one playing the bass and the other, the keyboard.

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We both looked at each other, smiled and nodded, knowing that we had been right. This was going to be an out-of-the-ordinary experience.

A hostess came right over to assist us. When we explained we were waiting for our party, she said, "No problem, allow me to show you to an area to wait for them." (It was located in between the musicians and the two dining areas.) Along the way, she stopped at the bar and offered us a mimosa. I asked if I could have the beverage without the orange juice, and we were soon handed two glasses of pure bubbly.

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We sat back to enjoy the ambiance and talked about how wonderful it was to be at the California Grill for a more refined, adult experience. In fact, I could feel tension leaving my body and I smiled. The fact that it was a picture-perfect day outside with a wonderful view of the Magic Kingdom, Grand Floridian, and Polynesian Village Resort added to our enjoyment.

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Soon our friends arrived and we were escorted to our table. There we met Tommy, our server for the brunch. He gave us menus and explained how things would work. I let Tommy know about my shellfish allergy, and he said there were no "hidden" shellfish items, but would have the chef come over to speak with me. It was great to see Chef Jonathon again!

Linda had her eyes on the Bloody Mary bar until Tommy explained that our welcome beverages would be refilled throughout the meal, at no additional charge. It almost seemed too good to be true: complimentary valet parking, bubbly refills during brunch... Yes, this was really going to be fun.

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By now you're probably thinking, "OK, Deb, get to the food!" All right, I will.

The meal is a combination of self-serve selections, entrees and dessert. The self-serve selections, appetizers in a sense, ranged from assorted sushi and smoked salmon to a charcuterie area and salads. We all thought we could have made a meal of those items alone.

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A board of pastries was sitting on the table when we returned from the buffet area. It included a nice selection of Tillamook Cheddar biscuits, caramel-apple monkey bread and gluten-free scones.

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We each made at least two visits to the self-serve selections, all the while chatting over our bottomless drinks. Tommy asked a couple times if we wanted to order and we put him off for a few more minutes. At no time did we feel rushed or pressured to place our entree selection.

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Finally, it was time to decide on our entrees. Among the four of us we ordered:

Lobster Eggs Benedict:

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Shrimp and Grits

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and two of us selected the Grilled Hanger Steak and Eggs.

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You can find the full menu HERE, along with additional food photos.

Our friend Mark savored his steak, but unfortunately I had to send mine back as I had ordered it medium and it was too rare. Tommy took the steak back to the kitchen without issue, and I enjoyed my eggs along with another helping from the self-serve selections. Soon my steak returned and I was satisfied that it was prepared properly.

There was no clear winning entree -- it actually was a tie between the Lobster Eggs Benedict and the Grilled Hanger Steak. Linda also enjoyed her Shrimp and Grits, a dish that seems to be popping up all over Disney World these days. (I'm trying to get her to decide on the top three places for Shrimp and Grits so that we can share that with you.)

We had such fun while noshing with our friends that time quickly got away from us and soon our dessert plate arrived.

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All of us agreed the experience was awesome and we had a marvelous time. Each of us left relaxed and smiling, with our bellies full of excellent food.


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BOTTOM LINE:

COST: Adults $80, children $48, plus tip and tax.

You get complimentary valet parking (which is worth $25, plus tip).
Tables in Wonderland is accepted, which gives a discount of 20 percent.
You receive refills of your welcome beverage.
You have great foods to savor while enjoying the spectacular views.
Return in the evening with your receipt and enjoy fireworks from the outdoor areas.

If you are looking for a wonderful "adult" experience at Walt Disney World this is it.

We found the entire experience lovely and plan to return in a few months.

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September 5, 2013

Interview with Brian Piasecki Chef de Cuisine at California Grill

Brian Piasecki Chef de Cuisine at California Grill talks about the newly re-designed, re-imagined restaurant. This interview includes information on the new kitchen, menu changes, the new Omakase experience at the Sushi bar, and dining with allergies and/or special diets.



Check out my previous blog with photographs HERE

December 29, 2011

Walt Disney World Dining Bits and Bites

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It is time for another Walt Disney World Dining Bits and Bites. Hopefully, now that we live in Florida, I'll be able to do these more often.

Last week Linda and I stayed two nights at the Contemporary Garden Wing (AP Rate which we got just 10 days prior) and spent both days in the Magic Kingdom and MK resort area.

This segment contains a quick service, theme park full service and signature dining.


CONTEMPO CAFE - CONTEMPORARY

Chicken Chop Salad $7.69
Deb: I have not been a fan of the Contempo Cafe, my previous 2 dining experiences were not so great. However I must say the Chicken Chop Salad was very fresh and perfect for lunch. It had the right balance of veggies, protein and carbs! I always ask for dressing on the side and was glad I did. The mayo based dressing really had little flavor and the vegis more than made up for it! I would have this again and would also recommend it to you!

Contempo Cafe


Chicken Spinach and Artichoke Flatbread $8.79
Linda: This was disappointing as the description of the flatbread did not jive with what I received. The spinach and artichoke appeared to be a creamy dip spread on the flatbread - not a chicken, spinach and artichoke flatbread that was advertised. There were VERY little actual spinach or artichokes. Plus the sauce was VERY thick and not at all appetizing. I was expecting fresh spinach and chopped artichoke therefore would not order again nor recommend it.

Contempo Cafe

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CALIFORNIA GRILL - CONTEMPORARY

Heirloom Apple Salad - winter greens, aged Gouda, dried cranberries, pumpkin-apple dressing $14
Deb: I love when greens means something other than Romaine or Iceburg lettuce and I would expect nothing less from a signature restaurant. The selection of greens were crunchy and did remind me of "winter". I loved the aged Gouda sprinkled on the top. If there was a slight disappointment with the salad it was the dressing. I felt the pumpkin-apple dressing was on the bland side and did not have the flavors I expected. That said, it was still a great salad and I would order it again!

California Grill


Creamy Parsnip and Sunchoke Soup - apple gastrique, truffled goat cheese gougere $11
Linda:
Yum Yum! Sunchoke was described as a cross of the edible parts of a sunflower and an artichoke. Seasoned perfectly, not over salted, and had a savory and sweet flavor (sweet coming from the small bits of apple). The goat cheese was in a puff pastry you can see on the side of the soup in the photo. I highly recommend and I'd order again!

California Grill


Triple Cheese Flatbread - pecorino, asiago, and provolone, sun-dried tomato and arugula pesto $12
Deb: I didn't want a full, heavy dinner and so opted for the salad above and this flatbread. I'm not much of an adventurous eater so this fit the bill for me perfectly. I'm a big fan of flatbreads from the signature restaurants with Jiko and California Grill making some of my most favorites!

California Grill

Dragon Roll - spicy and tataki tuna, shrimp tempura, bell pepper, avocado, chili soy glaze $28
Linda: Another Yoshi (Sushi Chef Extraordinare) Winner! A superb and very filling entree. If shared would make a great appetizer for 2. The only thing I didn't care from was the red bell pepper. Highly recommend and I'd order again.

California Grill

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LIBERTY TREE TAVERN - LUNCH - MAGIC KINGDOM

Colony Salad - Washington apples, sweet pecans and applewood smoked cheddar, dried cranberries Craisins, and grilled chicken tossed with field greens in honey shallot vinaigrette $14.49
Deb: I love lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern. The Colony salad is a wonderful blend of flavors accented with the apples. I forgot to order the dressing on the side so it was a bit "soupy" for me, but that was my error. I've had this salad before and I'll have it again - try it next time!

Liberty Tree Tavern


Pilgrims' Feast - traditional roast turkey with herb bread dressing, mashed potatoes and a garden vegetable $14.99
Linda: This hit the spot. I debated between this and the Tri-Corner sandwich and the server recommended the turkey - Spot on! Some of the most moist and tender turkey breast I've had in a long time. Green beans cooked just right, dressing was yummy - I joined the Clean Plate club for this one! Highly recommend!

Liberty Tree Tavern



Post Your Reviews and Read what Others Say about:

Contempo Cafe
California Grill
Liberty Tree Tavern Lunch

That's it for this edition of WDW Dining Bits and Bites!


October 30, 2008

Artist of the Day Followup

Earlier this month I told you about a fun activity for kids at the Contemporary called Artist of the Day. Several of you wrote and told me of your experiences and I want to share them.

It also turns out there are some other resorts with an Artist of the Day activity including Saratoga Springs and the Grand Floridian. So, be sure to ask at check-in if your resort offers this fun program!

Joe and Beth Thrash

We just got back from staying at the Contemporary. Our children (ages 2, 5, and 7) saw the Artist of the Day and all picked up pictures to color. We dropped them off that evening. The next morning the first thing they wanted to do was to go and check out who had won. To their surprise, all three were selected as Artist of the Day and had their pictures displayed. They were very excited and one of the cast members from the Grab and Go came over to congratulate them. They were all given special certificates and Mickey Rice Krispy treats as a prize for winning. We took photos of each one with their picture and we were also able to pick up the coloring page the next day. It was something very special for them.


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Leslie McElroy

We stayed at the Contemporary this summer and our kids colored an "Artist of the Day" picture one day during our trip. They dropped them off on our way to dinner and raced down the next morning, to find they'd both been selected as the Artist of the Day. They were thrilled to have their work hanging on the wall. I thought it was a really great and inexpensive way to bring a little magic to kids.


McElroy Kids


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Julianna Farleigh

Our daughter (now age 9) enters each day of our vacation until her coloring is chosen. Last year, when the Food 'N Fun Center chose her coloring, they displayed it in a table-top frame and placed it next to the coloring supplies. She received a certificate with her first name, date and location typed on it. This year, the Tempo Grab and Go displayed her coloring on the wall you have pictured, and she also received a Mickey Rice Krispy Treat and the Disney's Artist of the Day certificate. She has also entered at the Grand FL. Cafe where the coloring sheets are at the reception desk. At Disney's Contemporary, the chosen artwork is displayed for one day, and is then given back to the artist when they pick-up their certificate. We have never been notified that our daughter's artwork was chosen, we have always had to return to where they display the artwork to see if hers has been displayed and then ask a cashier for her "award."


Artist of the Day


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Cindy

The 'Artist of the Day' at the Contemporary Resort has been a part of the Food and Fun Center (former Quick Service Eatery) for quite a while and we were happy to see they're continuing with it at the new Tempo Grab and Go. My daughter has colored many pictures but alas has never been chosen as 'Artist of the Day'. It is fun for the kids to check every morning to see if they were picked and fun to see the kids who are picked as they are so excited!


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Christina

We stayed at the Contemporary in April of 07; and the Artist of the Day Was there. I was 15 at the time and did it with my brother and sister who were 9. We never did win; but everyday they allow pictures until after around lunch time and then they switch it the next morning.


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Lori Posey

We stayed at the Contemporary Resort back in February 2007. They had the Artist of the Day then also. It was located on the 1st floor where the Quick Serve counter was. My daughter Allie was very lucky and got selected as Artist of the Day. She loved having her pictured framed for all to see! They keep it up for the day. The next day we picked it up at the cashier and they also gave her a Year of a Million Dreams certificate stating she was the Artist of the Day! It was such a little thing but to a child it was like receiving gold!

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Beth DiSalvo

Just wanted to leave you a comment regarding the "Artist of the Day" at the Contemporary. As far as I know, this has been going on for quite some time. My son did this when it was at the "original" quick service location (now the Wave). He recieved a "Magical Moment" certificate - and I think they gave him a cookie.

I also know that Artist Palette in Saratoga Springs has the Artist of the Day as well.


October 12, 2008

Artist of the Day - Contemporary Resort

While exploring the Contemporary recently, I found a little area entitled Artist of the Day. It is located on the 4th floor near the entrance to Tempo Grab and Go.

Artist of the Day

The sign reads: "Artist of the Day" If you would like to participate, please choose a coloring page located below, and be sure to get a package of crayons.

When you have finished, please write your name and room number on the back of your page and place art work in the space provided below.

If your page is selected it will be framed and placed on display. Thank you for participating. If you have any questions, please ask a Cast Member."

The photos below show 2 framed pieces of art.

Artist of the Day

Also, you can see the areas to obtain the drawing, crayons and place to deposit your completed work.

Artist of the Day

If anyone has their child try this, please let me know how it worked!

I couldn't find anyone that seemed to know how long this would be here. Perhaps until the construction walls are removed?

The sign doesn't say you must be staying at the Contemporary to participate. However, the request of your room number on the coloring sheet pretty much narrows it to resort guests.


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About Contemporary

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Deb's Digest in the Contemporary category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Caribbean Beach Resort is the previous category.

Coronado Springs is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.