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When at the other Disney: The California Grill

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Orlando, Florida's Walt Disney World is quite a different ride than our local Anaheim day-tripping Disneyland. For one, the Florida theme park is all about kids and family, family and kids and some more kids, kids, kids (so there is Pleasure Island, but the name is just sort of weird to start with). So other than never growing up, what else is there to remember about a few days at the massive theme park?


Damn, right. And some of the best artisan meals too -- Vegas hasn't stolen all the good ideas yet. The Disney Blog (unrelated to Disney) gives the California Grill one of the two not-to-miss-luxurious spots at the resort. Located at the top of the Contemporary Hotel (the one that the monorail has a station inside of -- a 1970's precursor to transient oriented development), the restaurant has a somewhat slack dress code and offers sushi, flatbreads, an exclusive California wine menu and specialty cheeses.

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Start off with the Triple Cheese, Pecorino Asiago, Provolone with Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Basil Pesto flatbread followed by some Double-Crunch Rainbow Roll (Cobia, Salmon, Tuna, Tempura Crunch, and Tobikko). First course meals can include Wood-Fired Quail with Fresh Black Mission Figs, Truffle, Frisée, Mâche, and Port Wine Sauce, Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli or Fresh Maine Lobster (a favorite at recent festivals) with Hearts of Palm, Avocado, Tomato, Crisp Serrano Ham, and Citrus Vinaigrette. For the main course, try the tender Oak-fired Filet of Beef, Crushed Red Potatoes with Nueske's Bacon, Green Beans, Teriyaki Barbecue Sauce or the adventurous Ricotta Gnocchi Gratinée with Roasted Tomatoes, Wilted Arugula, Olive Tapenade, and Aged Balsamic (pictured above).

After years of tasting the goods at this restaurant, the only disappointing aspects are the mediocre margaritas and lack of Corona Beer, two important California staples. However, the California wine list makes up this deficit. Being a huge fan of wines from the Santa Barbara area, Paige 23's Syrah became the favorite of the night -- extremely smooth on the tongue with a light kick on the swallow.

If you find yourself at Disney World going crazy after twenty pretzels, ice cream sandwiches and Diet Cokes, make sure to make a reservation at the California Grill or one of many Disney's fine culinary delights.

Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist