The Carthay Circle Restaurant doesn’t officially open until June 15th (along with the rest of Buena Vista Street), but we were able to take a look around recently and sample of few of their menu items at a special preview dinner. The restaurant is filled with history, which is only appropriate as the exterior is based on the Carthay Circle Theatre, which hosted the premiere of Walt Disney’s first feature-length cartoon, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” back in 1937.
The building has some wonderful details on the outside and the interior is no less opulent, featuring scores of historic photos, plus a display on loan from the Walt Disney Family Museum.
After you check in, you’ll wait in the lounge or bar area until you’re escorted up to the second floor dining areas.
The restaurant features several dining rooms, plus two balconies.
Be aware that the balcony can get a little chilly in the evening and it didn’t seem as if there would be room for portable heaters in the tight spaces up there.
We were able to sample several starters, including the Halibut Ceviche, Fire Cracker Duck Wings, Ginger Grilled Pork Satay (no picture) and the Summer Watermelon Salad.
The starters are intended to be shared….so we did. Be warned, the duck wings ARE spicy, but very good.
All of the starters were well received and we would probably order them again, with the exception of the Watermelon Salad, which just didn’t seem very substantial.
During the evening, we were able to sample several wines from the Lasseter Family Winery. Following our starters, Chef Andrew Sutton and John and Nancy Lasseter spoke about the restaurant, the winery and the grand re-opening of Disney California Adventure. John Lasseter is the Chief Creative Officer for Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios and Principal Creative Advisor to Walt Disney Imagineering.
Because of our dedication to the blog….we each had a different entree and all were wonderful, though the beef had to be sent back because it was over-cooked. We forgave that because of the timing issues caused by the Lasseter’s presentation. A new dish appeared quickly.
Cavatelli Pasta with Tuscan-style Braised Lamb with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Spinach and Grana Padana in a Rich Lamb Jus
Sauteed Northern Halibut with Relish of Roasted Bell Pepper, Caper Berry and Orange
Grilled Angus Filet with Sauteed Mushrooms and Gremolata of Red Flame Grapes and Blue Cheese
We were offered two desserts and both were delicious.
Toasted Lemon Pound Cake with fresh Marinated Blueberries, Lemon Curd Cream, and Tahitian Vanilla Cantilly
Seasonal Country Pie with Whipped Brown Sugar Sour Cream
Following dinner, we were allowed in for a sneak-peak at 1901, the new lounge for Club 33 members.
We were not allowed to take pictures inside, but suffice it to say it’s beautiful. There are two rooms, with several sitting areas furnished with an eclectic mix of chairs and tables. The walls and shelves are filled with pictures and (replicated) treasures from Walt’s office.
We found the bar the most interesting, with pictures of the Nine Old Men on the wall and four bar stools with names on the back: Ub, Roy, Walt and Lilian.
I think that perfectly defines both 1901 and the Carthay Circle Restaurant…you feel as if Walt Disney could walk in at any moment.
Though the Carthay Circle Restaurant is upscale for theme park dining, given the food we sampled and Chef Andrew Sutton’s track-record with the Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, I’m sure this will be a success.
[NOTE: All photographs for this blog were taken during the Annual Passholder previews of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street. The DIS Unplugged and/or the author paid for admission to this event.]