Kosher Restaurant Review: California Grill

Exclusive Dining at the California Grill

There are two restaurants that are known as the ideal fine dining experiences at Walt Disney World: Victoria & Albert’s and California Grill.  Victoria & Albert’s, while an amazing experience according to those who have gone, is not worth the money for the kosher eater.  Unfortunately, the experience itself is not as big as deal as the food to most people and kosher eaters will be stuck with the same food as everywhere else. However, if you are willing to pay a slightly higher cost California Grill might be for you if you want a nice romantic night out.

California Grill is at the very top of the Contemporary Resort, which has the added benefit of allowing you to take the monorail directly to the hotel (it is also close enough to Magic Kingdom that walking is faster then taking the Monorail).  When you first arrive you check-in on the 2nd floor, whereupon they direct you a specific elevator to reach the restaurant.

Chicken Breast at the California Grill
Chicken Breast at the California Grill

Once there you will normally have a short wait until your table is ready (we waited about 10 minutes).  Since you will have pre-ordered your kosher meal (hopefully, otherwise they probably won’t be able to get the food to you fast enough) ordering your meal will not be necessary.  However, the menu does contain a limited number of kosher beers if one is interested.

The food itself was delivered within 10-15 minutes and the main course included a kosher roll (both of which were double wrapped).  I ordered the Glazed Breast of Chicken option (with mushroom risotto and eggplant ratatouille), which in my opinion is the best of the kosher options at any of the Disney locales.

Besides the awesome view the one is afforded out the windows of the California Grill, that of the Magic Kingdom, the experience that many people book the restaurant to have is being able to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks.  If you are mid-meal, which I was, when the fireworks show is happening they will notify you and then turn off the lights and pump in

Fireworks over the MK Castle from the California Grill
Fireworks over the MK Castle from the California Grill

the music from the show itself in the restaurant. You can watch the show from your seat, the windows, or the special viewing balcony set up just for these purposes.  If you ate at an earlier time, or are scheduled to eat at a later time, you can show your reservation record or receipt from that day where you check-in and will be allowed to view the fireworks show from the balcony with everyone else. An interesting takeaway from viewing the show this way is that you can see how far away from the castle the fireworks are actually set off.  While in the MK the fireworks look like they are happening right behind the castle, when viewed from this vantage point it is clear they are quite a ways away.

After the show is over you can return to your seat (assuming you got up) and finish your meal at your own pace.  If you didn’t order dessert it is worth noting that there is an option for a bowl of fresh berries, if that is something you are willing to eat from the restaurant.

While pricey, the atmosphere, experience and service at the California Grill really did live up to the hype (even if I couldn’t confirm that the food did). So, if you are looking for a romantic fun night out at Walt Disney World, and are willing to pay a little extra money, I certainly recommend giving California Grill a shot.

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