29 June 2012

Review: Carthay Circle Restaurant

On June 15 2012, Disney California Adventure finally opened its doors to Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. My wife and I, along with 800 other enthusiastic Disney fans, camped out overnight the night before in anticipation for the big day. While in line, there were only 2 things I could think about: Cars Land, of course, and Carthay Circle Restaurant.  Now if you don't already know, Carthay Circle Restaurant is a replica of the original theater that once stood in Los Angeles until it's demolition in 1969. In 1937, Walt Disney premiered his first animated feature length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the original Carthay Theater. A smaller replica of the tower is also located inside Disney Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.

Weeks before the big day, the Disney Parks Blog announced they were now accepting reservations for Carthay Circle. As soon as I read that, I got on the phone and booked my reservation for opening day. All the dinner times were already booked, but luckily I was able to get a lunch reservation for l: 30. 

After spending the majority of the morning in Cars Land, we headed towards Buena Vista Street for our reservation.

Before entering the restaurant for our reservation, we were able to catch one of Disney California Adventure's new musical performances in front of Carthay Circle. The Red Car News Boys, along with Mickey himself, sing about arriving in California, the latest headlines and dance around the Red Car Trolley while engaging with the audience. The Red Car News Boys perform every hour starting at 10am until 4pm on Buena Vista Street. Here they are in action with Mickey Mouse.

As you enter the Restaurant, just to the right of the doors is the dedication plaque to Carthay Circle
While waiting for our reservation, we were seated in the beautiful waiting lounge. It is incredibly elegant and spacious, with beautifully adorned cocktail tables and chairs for you to use while you wait for your reservation. The lounge is also decorated with photos of Walt and other celebrities that visited the original Carthay Circle. Off to the right is the bar area with a fully stocked bar and a small bites menu that includes Santa Monica Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Cream Fraiche, Lobster Pad Thai Imperial Roll with Cashew Tamarind Sauce, and a Butcher's Plate for two with American Prosciutto, Salami, Capicola, Seasonal Fruit and Nuts. This is just the beginning of the menu, and no reservation is needed.
When our name was finally called, we took the elevator to the second floor into the main dining area. 
Here is a video I took of our entering. Watch and enjoy as if you yourself were entering the restaurant. 

A mural of Snow White's village is painted on the ceiling of the main area above the chandeliers. Several booths and tables are placed perfectly within four private sections. The first two, appropriately named Buena Vista and Hyperion, seats up to 5 guests. The Premier room fits 10-12 guests, and the Hollywood room, up to 20 guests. We were led to a separate, smaller dining area with doors leading to the patio facing Grizzly River Rock.

Once seated, we looked at the delicious menu that was created by Chef Andrew Sutton from Napa Rose, with the help of Chef Gloria Tae, also from Napa Rose. Staying true to California cuisine, the simple yet intriguing menu features items for everyone and anyone to enjoy. Items like Firecracker Duck Wings, Halibut Ceviche, and Carthay House Biscuits stuffed with white cheddar, bacon and jalapenos served with a Apricot Honey Butter, just for starters. A few of the entrees offered are the Cavatelli Pasta with a Tuscan style Braised Lamb, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Summer Roasted Corn, Grilled Zucchini and Basil Salsa, and Kobe Beef Cheek Sliders. 

Bread service is also included with your meal at Carthay Circle. The bread, a crusty, rustic sourdough was served served room temperature with sea salt butter. This was something I didn't enjoy, as warm sourdough just brings a smile to my face. However, the sea salt added on top of the butter was a nice touch to the flavor.

We decided to keep it simple when we ordered.

My wife ordered the Pappardelle Pasta w/ House Made Chicken Meatballs, Tear Drop Tomatoes, fresh Basil, and Yellow Tomato Essence.

The chicken meatballs were moist and flavorful by themselves, but added with the sauce and the pasta, and my wife was all smiles. She said this is one of the best pasta dishes she's ever had. That's saying something!
As for me, I'm a burger guy. I'll try any burger once. However, this will definitely not be the last time I get this burger. 

The  8oz Angus Burger w/ Tillamook Cheddar Cheese, Black Pepper Bacon, and Grilled Onions served w/ French Fries and House Made Pickles.
Now, I never cut my burger in half, but after taking the first bite from this piece of art, I wished I had changed my mind. The juice from the burger oozed out all over me, a possibly ruined one of my favorite shirts. This passionately hand-made patty was seasoned to perfection. The house pickles were a little soft, but had a sweet kick to it, which I enjoyed. However, the fries I felt were overcooked and under-seasoned. Overall, this was one of the best burgers I've had. I even told our waiter to tell Chef Sutton that this burger was phenomenal.

Finally, it was time for dessert and I knew exactly what I was going to get ever since I saw it on the Disney Parks Blog.
The Fried Banana Split Monte Critso.
This fried piece of breaded banana heaven was topped with Chocolate Fudge, Raspberry, and Toffee Nut ice cream, and placed upon warm Caramel Rum Banana's. There's not a lot I can say about this folks, except that the moment I bit into this I was speechless. So many flavors, all of them blending together beautifully. If you ever go to Carthay Circle Restaurant, this should be number 1 on your dessert list. Other desserts include a Toasted Lemon Pound Cake with Fresh Marinated Blueberries, Lemon Curd Cream, and Tahitian Vanilla Chantilly, and "Peaches In There Glory," Peach and White Chocolate Cannolis, with Fresh Grilled Peaches and Peach Sorbet.

And for the families that visit Carthay Circle, a children's dinner and dessert menu is also available for guests 9 and under with items such as, Sloppy Joes, Orecchiette Pasta, and a Chicken Schnitzel. 

When you dine at Carthay Circle Restaurant or Napa Rose, you can opt to enjoy reserved seating on the center stage for the nighttime spectacular World Of Color.

You can make your reservations request today to Carthay Circle Restaurant today by calling 
(714) 781-DINE from 7am to 9pm or now you can email your reservation request to dine@disneyland.com.

One more little piece of info about Carthay Circle is that there is a members only lounge exclusively for 
Club 33 members called the 1901 Club. Why 1901? It's was the year Walt Disney was born. The lounge was decorated to look like a place where animators would have hung out in the 1930's and share stories, scribble on napkins, and have a drink.

To keep up with all things Disneyland, and to see all my photos and videos from opening day, you can follow me on twitter @Big_Bubba_B. You can also listen to Sorcerer Radio, www.srsounds.com,  where I'll call in from time to time with breaking Disneyland news, trip reports, movie reviews and more on Disneyland Magic, with host William "Yetichaser" Hershey, airing Wednesdays at 8am est / 5am pst.

This is Disneyland Correspondent Vincent "Bubba" Alvarez saying so long from Radiator Springs.


  1. Great article. I do suggest that people don't read this story on an empty stomach.

  2. Yum! It all sounds delish! I am interested I. The fully stocked bar, was it busy? When I mentioned this to my dad his eyes lit up!

    1. The bar was steady. there were 2 tables open when I arrived for my reservation. I hear it gets pretty busy as it gets later. I will try to get some pictures of the bar next time I go Destiny and post them on my twitter.


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