As you might know, I took my first trip to Disneyland recently. It was also our 4th wedding anniversary during the trip, so we decided to do something pretty special. We made reservations to dine at the Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose restaurant inside the Grand Californian Hotel.
If you’re not familiar with Disneyland, Napa Rose is the gorgeous, upscale dining venue at Disneyland resort. They have an award winning chef and the restaurant itself has received many accolades. For our special trip we reserved the chef’s counter, which has you seated literally at the kitchen! By sitting at this table you also have the option to order the tasting menu, which is what we did. The chefs create a personalized menu tailored around you and your preferences. It is around 6 courses and while they are small portions they are still very filling!
My husband and I both opted to do this tasting menu. I will be upfront and say that this is definitely an expensive meal. The tasting menu is $100 per person, and we also opted to do the wine pairings, which was an additional $45 per person. However, for a special occasion it was absolutely worth the cost. The food was incredible and the wines were great (plus you got a glass which each course so we ended up drinking 6 or 7 glasses – definitely got our money’s worth!). It is a long experience, about a 2 or 2 1/2 hour meal, so be prepared for that if you ever try it.
Our server was extremely knowledgeable about the restaurant, the food, and the wines that he personally selected to go along with each of our unique dishes. We were seated next to another couple celebrating their anniversary and they did the same tasting menu, so we actually got to see and hear about 4 different dishes each time food was brought out. To begin the meal, everyone started with a pineapple cucumber shooter. This was so refreshing – I love anything pineapple! We were also brought champagne, though I think this was more because we were celebrating our anniversaries rather than being the typical first step (they brought it even before my husband had decided to do the wine pairings, which is what makes me think that).
For my first course I was brought a summer salad made with heirloom tomatoes, and on the side we had garlic croutons with an ahi tuna mixture on top. I’m not normally a huge fan of ahi tuna, but this was delicious. I love tomatoes of all kinds and everything worked really well together.
My husband was very excited to get the more “exotic” dish: octopus served with Romanesco sauce. I wish I’d taken better notes on everything that was in the dishes but he explained them quickly! Anyway, my husband loved this. I think it was his favorite thing he ate all evening.
For our next course we were each brought a seafood dish, and we love seafood! Jason received skate with shrimp gnocchi in a corn brown butter sauce. It had rich and delicious flavors that paired well with the light fish.
My second course was my favorite of the evening. It’s on their regular menu so you can order it, but it was a sea scallop and lobster in a lemon vanilla sauce. My dish was much sweeter than Jason’s, which was fine with me! Literally everything in that dish is something I love and the taste actually surpassed the description.
I’m not sure if these were still appetizers, or multiple small entrees, or what, but the dishes kept coming. My husband next got veal with a carrot puree that also involved cashew and eggplant. I wish my descriptions were a little better but I was trying to remember and write down everything just from having it told to us!
I had what was probably my second favorite dish of the evening, dove wrapped in prosciutto with figs and a tri-colored salad. I am an absolute sucker for prosciutto, but I had never had dove before. They paired perfectly together and the dove was so tender. So different than anything else I’ve tried anywhere.
Next we were each given another “in between” item, the summer harvest soup. It was made with onions, which neither of us particularly like, but I actually found the onion flavor in this to be pleasant and not too overpowering.
I guess the next meals were the true main course. Jason got a salmon and pork osso buco with eggplant and zucchini. I didn’t know what osso buco was so I had to look it up – apparently it’s a cooking style normally done with veal that is similar to braising. It seems a stretch to me to call this dish osso buco, but whatever. Not surprisingly, it was delicious like everything else.
I got a rib eye with Yukon potatoes in a Cabernet reduction. While everything tasted very good, I found this to be the most boring dish of the evening for me. Your standard steak and potatoes. It was delicious but I just found the other things to be a little more exciting to me.
We were moving on to dessert soon, but our server asked us if we would like to have a cheese course before that. We are not ones to pass up cheese so we said sure! Now, I’m not sure if it was because I’d had 5 wine pairings by this point or what but it seems I forgot to take a picture of the cheese. I did, however, take a picture of the menu listing the cheeses. Maybe also because of the wine I forgot details about the taste, but I know it was all delicious.
For dessert he asked us if we preferred chocolate or fruit based desserts – I favor chocolate and Jason likes fruit, so we once again got two different dishes. His was a blueberry pie with ice cream. I don’t remember what the ice cream flavor actually was, but the server described it as tasting like kettle corn which was 100% true. Different, and so good.
Mine was a flourless chocolate cake with mango sorbet. I love chocolate but especially paired with something fruity, so this was perfect. The fact that it was flourless meant that the cake definitely seemed lighter, which made it the perfect ending to this filling meal.
The Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose is definitely expensive, but it was totally worth it for the amount of food you got – and especially the quality of it. If you ever find yourself with a special occasion and the money to spend, I highly recommend you do it!
Have you ever tried the Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose? Which dish sounds the best to you?