Y’all I have found heaven and it’s conveniently located at the California Grill Brunch. How good is it? How good can a brunch possibly be? Let me tell you, at $80 per person this is one of the most expensive meals on Disney property AND in my honest opinion, they could charge more and I would STILL call it a good value. That’s right folks, it’s so good I would pay as much as a park ticket for this meal without batting an eyelash! Think that’s high praise? Just wait the love fest is only getting started!
Disney’s California Grill is a signature dining restaurant located in The Contemporary Resort, once a week, every Sunday, this dinner spot opens it’s doors early for brunch. Unlike most expensive Disney breakfast/brunch locations, this is not a character breakfast and even MORE unusual is that they actually, actively encourage you to stay longer. No seriously! Our server again and again encouraged us to relax, take our time, and stay a while! We actually brought books with us and I’ve heard stories of people bringing cards or other small games! It’s a LOT of money but part of what contributes to the value (besides it easily being enough food for two meals) is that it can actually be the whole entire morning meaning you literally can get two meals out of it!
Also as far as value, I feel it’s worth mentioning, this is obviously a lot of money for a breakfast but $80 a person is actually about average for a California Grill Dinner. From my perspective, I just think of it on the same tier as a super special fancy Disney Dinner except in the morning and that helps when the check comes haha. ALSO if you do this place right you might not even need dinner haha!
Upon arrival you’re greeted with a complementary mimosa (actually it’s unlimited free mimosas but they have a paid bar as well for other drinks) and brought to your table where you’re presented with a menu. Aside from the incredible buffet, you also get an entree AND we learned towards the end of the meal from the California Grill Brunch PRO’s sitting next to us, you can actually order multiple entrees! The point here is pampering and they really will give you as much food as you can even think about being able to eat SO if two things look good on the menu go ahead and ask for both! We will certainly be next time!
One really wonderful element of the atmosphere here, besides of course the outstanding views and incredibly light filled space, is the live music! What’s so awesome is that the musicians play unique, jazzy versions of Disney songs! If you don’t pay attention you might not even notice but if you start listening for it you can hear just about all your favorite classics! It was the perfect mix of classy but still Disney that makes me just so happy!
Fashion side note: you can get the dress I wore to our California Grill Brunch here! PLUS you can save 15% with the code MICKEYBAR. I loved this dress, was the perfect mix of classy and cute and comfortable especially to a buffet meal haha!
Once you place your entree order with your server you head on up to the bar. They time the meal so that you have a chance to really enjoy the buffet for a while before the entrees come out. There will be more time after the entrees for buffet-surfing and the meal concludes with dessert. Along the way the servers and kitchen do a fantastic job of giving you time and being attentive to know when you’ll want each course.
The buffet is composed of 5 parts: the charcuterie & cheese section, the sushi section, the salads, the yogurt/toppings, and the pastries. I did not experience any of the charcuterie & cheeses (there was bread on the board, I’m sure I could have asked for a gluten safe plate from the back but I was a bit distracted with all the other deliciousness! Next time haha!) but David did and he was raving about it!
The sushi section was my favorite part, I’ll come back to this more in a moment but for now I’ll just say they had nigiri as well as rolls and hand rolls and were happy to grab me some gluten free soy sauce. Everything except the shrimp tempura was gluten friendly! Next up were the salads which all looked interesting and tasty but I didn’t have the stomach space for them (side note here, I had been gluten contaminated at Yachtsman the night before, at this point I was feeling better enough to be able to eat thankfully but I still needed to take it easy and limit how much I had. To be 100% honest had I been home I would have been eating bland food but with this special event and no way to rebook it I decided it was worth a bit more discomfort to enjoy the experience. I am truly looking forward to coming back and eating eh-very-thing next time!).
After the salads was the yogurt station, I got mixed answers about the safety of the granola and was not about to push my stomach so I opted for just the yogurt, strawberries, and honey. WOW was it good! It’s a Greek yogurt but very mild and sweet, the strawberries were fantastic and the honeycomb. Let me just pause to take a moment of silent awe and appreciation for this honeycomb.
Okay but really guys SUPER PRO TIP HERE… put that honeycomb on everything. And by everything I especially mean the pastries, like just take a hunk of it on your plate and cover everything you can with it, it’s that good. And seriously, I did just that because the next station was the baked goods station! You can’t even understand how happy it made me to see gluten free scones, not packaged, not defrosted, fresh made scones. I was ecstatic. What I wasn’t so happy about were the tongs that I am sure someone used for the gluten containing items on the next tray haha so I asked one of the many chefs nearby to get me fresh ones which they easily did. I really don’t understand the logic of having gluten free items displayed like that instead of with at least some amount of separation but it was easily handled.
Remember how I said I’d come back to the sushi? It’s time to come back to the sushi. Guys. Words are failing. This was without a doubt the absolute best nigiri, best any sushi at all I have ever had, EVER, and I love sushi! I used to think Morimoto was the best sushi in Disney and this blew it away. It was just the most tender, perfect, buttery, ugh, I could have eaten just the salmon nigiri for my whole meal and walked away a VERY happy camper! The one and only complaint I have, in fact, is why don’t they serve this kind at dinner?!!!! The other types of sushi were great as well, their California Roll had some of the freshest crab and everything was delicious but really that salmon just knocked my socks off and then some.
Had enough buffet? Next up are the entrees. I’ll be honest, mine was good but not really worth my stomach space at this point in the meal haha. I got the goat cheese frittata and it just wasn’t quite as good as everything else, and, as I said, my stomach was in recovery mode so I only had a few bites. The potatoes were great but again, not as good as everything else offered!
And finally dessert. Okay full disclosure time. This was one of those “well at least they tried” moments, gluten eating diners get a plate with cookies and cake things and macarons, I was given some sort of pound cake thing. It was so rock solid I couldn’t actually get my fork into the middle of it. After a bite I pretty much gave up on it BUT the strawberry sauce topping was fantastic, so I got crafty. I grabbed a gluten free scone, slathered it with some honeycomb, and spooned the strawberry sauce on top and THAT was a dessert fitting for this meal!
Alright y’all, so that was our experience doing the California Grill Brunch Gluten Free and in summery, I think all I have left to say is WHEN CAN WE DO THIS AGAIN?! Seriously, if you like brunch, no, if you like food, put this on your Disney Bucket List, you may have to literally roll yourself to Magic Kingdom after but it will be worth every amazing bite.