My latest culinary quest gave me the opportunity to taste the new and improved menu at PCH Grill for dinner. PCH Grill at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel features the Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends in the mornings. They recently transformed their menu to have “less burgers and sandwiches…comfort food…and local ingredients.” Disneyland Annual Passholders were given the opportunity to preview the new menu back in September. To listen to a more in-depth review of the PCH Grill, listen to a recent episode of the DIS Unplugged: Disneyland Edition.
The new menu at PCH Grill was definitely new and had less burgers and sandwiches. Appetizers included both a shrimp and a goat cheese, tomato, and basil flatbread priced at $10.49 each. The other starters are Red Pepper Hummus ($8.49), Spinach and Artichoke Dip ($9.49), Beer-Battered Onion Rings ($6.99), and a Dinner Salad or Seasonal Soups for around six dollars. After perusing the menu, we chose to avoid the onion rings and flatbreads as we could get those throughout the resort pretty easily. The Red Pepper Hummus, the Spinach and Artichoke Dip, and the House Dinner Salad didn’t seem special enough to warrant reviewing. We asked about the Seasonal Soups, and they were not necessarily “seasonal” and I questioned whether they were “House-made” as described. The choices were chicken noodle and chili. I have both of those in my pantry, so I think I’ll pass.
So we decided to share three entrees instead. Let’s review the entrees we didn’t try. We skipped the Sustainable Fish steamed with wine and seasonal vegetables ($20.49), which in retrospect, we should have chosen. We did not choose the Surfside Grilled Chicken Breast ($14.49), the Wood-burning Oven Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza ($9.99), or the Southwest Burger ($12.99) because they again did not seem special enough.
For the purposes of this review, we shared the Santa Maria Tri Tip Steak, the Muir Woods Roasted Pepper and Mushroom Pasta, and the Pebble Beach Shrimp Mac & Cheese. The Pebble Beach Mac & Cheese is priced at $15.99 and features Shrimp and Black Diamond Cheddar Cheese Sauce garnished with Herb-crusted Bread Crumbs served with seasonal vegetables. This dish arrived at our table very quickly as we were one of the only customers there on a rainy Thursday night. That speed ruined the magic for me. We could tell that the pasta was put in the dish, sauce applied, crumbs placed on top, and thrown in the oven for a few minutes. The shrimp was well cooked and not chewy at all. The dish got better the more that was eaten. The first half of the dish didn’t seem very flavorful, but in the end, all of the flavor of the cheddar cheese sauce was on the bottom. It was definitely a sauce. So it did taste good, the portion was large, and we would order it again, but I may decide to turn the dish upside down first.
The Muir Woods Roasted Pepper and Mushroom Pasta included Cellentani Pasta, Wild Forrest Mushrooms, Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce, Sauteed Zucchini topped with Toasted Pine Nuts and Shaved Parmesan for a price of $13.99. Let me begin by saying this was the same exact pasta as the “Mac & Cheese.” That definitely “ruined the magic.” The same exact pasta in both dishes! This dish was pedestrian, needed salt (I’m not a salt lover either), and was of the quality of a counter service restaurant, not a table service restaurant at all. Oh yeah, let me know if you find the Toasted Pine Nuts because I am still looking for them.
I really enjoyed the Santa Maria Tri Tip Steak. It was cooked perfectly and the fact that it was a steak and not served in slices definitely made for an interesting cut. I really liked the smoky flavor, but my fellow podcaster questioned the validity of it on our podcast. The seasonal vegetables were seasoned well and included root vegetables which I had never had before. The steak was also served with mashed potatoes and a tomato salsa, which was more of a sauce and didn’t add anything to the meal.
The desserts include the PCH Grill specialty of ice cream nirvana, the Kitchen Sink ($21.99). We chose the House-made Ice Cream “Sliders” and the Gluten-free Lemon Pound Cake, each priced at $7.49. Let me just say that we were not impressed at all by either. And yes, I have had Gluten-free desserts before, and they were better than this one.
For all of the hoopla the new menu received from Disneyland and the promoting of it to Annual Passholders, I expected a much better meal than I had. Everything was ok. But ok is not good enough when you are paying table service prices for counter service food. In fact, I would say save your money and head over to Tangaroa Terrace for a much better value and taste.
As I had time to reflect on the meal, I felt sorry for PCH Grill at dinner. When you walk in you see the character breakfast buffet empty counters and stations. You see the Mickey and Friends signs. You see the surfboards and island theme all over. You even hear the surf music throughout the restaurant. This is the problem.
This is not a table service restaurant. It is a table service menu being served in a character breakfast or counter service location. I’d prefer not to hear “Wipeout” while eating a higher-end menu. I think this enormous space should either be a character meal at dinner or turn it into a counter service restaurant at lunch and dinner. That way the food can match the theme and space. I am aware that they used to have a less upscale menu and changed it, but I just don’t think the current menu matches at all. So, until they change it up again, I will only be visiting PCH Grill for Surf’s Up! Breakfast with Mickey and Friends.