Updated May 15, 2021, Posted February 28, 2021

The California Grill is located in the Contemporary Hotel right outside of Magic Kingdom. Supposedly, one of the most alluring features of this restaurant is not just its breathtaking view of the Magic Kingdom castle but also during the fireworks at night, when they pipe the music in and you can view it from afar. Unfortunately, there were no fireworks at night because of COVID, but that pushed us to give more attention toward the food.


(Added May 15 2021) The blackberry sour cocktail was house made lemonade, fresh blackberries, and Ketel One Citron vodka. This was sweet but harmonious for my partner.

The bread was a crispy sourdough loaf that came with a tomato, pepper, and olive oil mixture.

The Yellowfin Tuna Tasting came with maki, oshizushi, nigiri, tartare and wasabi, pickled ginger, dashi, crispy garlic, yuzu-gooseberry gel, soy gel, and tartare puff. The rice was seasoned nicely with that subtle hint of vinegar. All of the fish was quite tasty and seemed pretty high quality. On top of the sashimi, was this gelatin. I’m not sure what it was made of as the flavor was very mild. Below the sashimi, it sat on a thick edible piece of seaweed. I didn’t care too much for the yuzu or gooseberry gel at the bottom right, but when you mix that with the seaweed, it was actually quite good! Everything else on the plate had solid profiles of what you would expect. I think the one key note that kept ringing in my mind was “fresh”, and this was nothing short of it.

The Snake River Farms wagyu striploin came with root vegetable Apple pavé, leek fondue, and fig onion demi. It was served with a potato gratin similar to the Topolino variant. The 7 ounce wagyu striploin was cooked medium rare and was quite pricey. I decided to splurge here, and I can say I was just a tad disappointed. The meat was good but not $70 good. The meat lacked the delicate wagyu balance, so it wasn’t as buttery soft as I was expecting. The demi was very rich and salty and was over lathered on the meat. The root vegetable Apple pave was to counter this rich and salty, but it didn’t help much.

The Oak Fired Filet of Beef also came with a root vegetable Apple pavé, leek fondu, and fig onion demi … pretty much the same condiments and garnishes as the wagyu strip above. Like the wagyu, the demiglaze could’ve been done without. It was too rich to be counterbalanced by the vegetable pavé. The meat quality of the filet though was pretty decent, though I think I prefer Topolino’s instead.

The Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé came with peanut butter Gianduja ice cream and peanut butter Gianduja crunch. You actually should order this a bit beforehand because it can take some time to cook. The soufflé of course was served piping hot and seemed to be more cautious on the blander side of taste. The chocolate flavors start disappearing as you get into the core of the souffle for some reason. The little peanut butter flavors though were sublime and added a nice medley of flavor notes when you could taste the chocolate. I think as a whole, this is pretty good though it didn’t seem to be executed tastewise as good as it looked.

Along with the dessert, they gave us some gel cubes. The waiter told us the white was coconut and the other was blueberry. My tongue is probably lying to me, but the coconut probably tasted more like a mixture of coconut and guava. The blueberry definitely tasted of an overly sugarized blueberry gel candy. Nevertheless, it was still much appreciated and a nice complimentary snack at the end.

The service was nothing short of excellent. If you desire to eat at places like California Grill in peace without the crowds, right now is the time to go because of the socially distant tables.

After dinner, make sure you step outside so that yuo can get a nice view of Magic Kingdom’s castle and Space Mountain.

Final Verdict

Aside from the views, the food itself was good but not great. Still, I think when fireworks start returning again, I think you’re really paying for the entire package.

Yelp Jabs

The very first time we went to California grill was over 10 years ago when they had Yoshi a famous sushi chef working on staff.

I really can’t fathom the sushi at California Grill being that much better than a high caliber NYC/LA sushi restuarant because of the sushi chef. They aren’t charging at those prices.

I wish I had more to say- but presentation and flavor are severely lacking

Would be nice if this Elitist shared what they got. We found that some of the dishes had offbalanced flavors.