Carthay Circle Restaurant – A Return to Elegance: Disney Foodie Spotlight

Fine dining at Disney resorts has become more commonplace than ever before.  If you still think of theme park food primarily as hot dogs, burgers, and chicken strips – you’re in for a big surprise.  For the foodie in all of us, theme park dining is far more exciting today than at any other time, and that can surely be said of Disney California Adventure’s fanciest dining establishment – the Carthay Circle Restaurant.

The interior of the Carthay Circle Restaurant
The interior of the Carthay Circle Restaurant

Walking into the Carthay Circle Restaurant is like walking into a romanticized version of Hollywood in its heyday.  You can almost imagine some of the greats of the silver screen coming to eat here. The experience is reminiscent of Club 33 or Blue Bayou.  The ambiance fits the Hollywood era that the rest of Buena Vista Street embodies, and the decorations and lighting complete the illusion.  Make sure you call for reservations far in advance though, the earlier the better.

The Jamaican Jerk Ono on a bed of black beans
The Jamaican Jerk Ono on a bed of black beans

The decor was exquisite and the taste was spot on for such a classy place.  Well, for the most part.  I had the Jamaican Jerk Ono on a bed of black beans and pineapple salsa and it tasted pretty good although not quite up to expectations.  The waitress told me that the fish was only seared on the outside leaving the middle more like a medium rare steak, but it was instead cooked all the way through.  Also, there wasn’t a side dish to accompany the meal.  I did order some rice, but it cost extra (a LOT extra for a side).  The rest of my family ended up with really good food.  My wife Cassie and stepdaughter Eve both got the burger and it was huge and juicy!  My daughter Emma got the mac and cheese and even that was quite yummy.  Be aware that prices are very expensive here.  While the quality of the food is good, the prices are astoundingly high.

Dessert was quite delicious.  They have a great selection but I’m a sucker for most things “apple” so I ordered the apple cake with green apple sorbet.  Yum.  One of the best I’ve eaten.  My only complaint?  I wish there was more!  The girls got a chocolate ice cream sandwich which was far more decadent than any I’ve tried before and definitely worth it.  Be aware that the menu changes often and items you might have had at one time may not be there in the future.

One of the great side benefits to eating here is the access to reserved seating in the center section of World of Color.  With an entree and either an appetizer or dessert, you are given a ticket for admission to either the early or late show.  Although I’ve read that seating is dependent on when you eat, the waitress offered us a choice of shows to attend.  And since we had kids, only my wife and I had to order the extra dessert / appetizer to qualify.  Definitely a bonus if you plan to stay for the show.

Birthday truffles - yummy
Birthday truffles – yummy

They also had some great looking alcoholic beverages and is one of the few places that serve them.  I don’t really like alcohol so didn’t order one, but the list seems well rounded for any taste.  On a side note, it’s also worth it to let them know if you’re celebrating a special occasion.  We came to celebrate Eve’s 16th birthday and they brought her a pair of birthday truffles (which were mighty tasty).  Just a nice little touch to round out the experience.  If you’re looking for a quality meal and don’t mind paying for it, Carthay Circle Restaurant certainly fits the bill.  And like any Disney park eatery, you don’t have to come in dressed to the nines to dine like a celebrity.  Just come as you are.

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