On our most recent trip to Disneyland this past December, Paul and I stumbled into Napa Rose. The word stumble seems a strange term for one of Disneyland’s more signature dining experiences. The truth was, we had no original plans of dining there. It was a cold night, and we had originally planned to grab some quick service. We quickly realized how little indoor seating Disneyland has at its quick-service locations and decided to seek out any indoor dining reservation we could find. The pickings were slim, and although we didn’t feel we were dressed appropriately for Napa Rose, our desire to be warm won over and we grabbed the reservation with little time to walk over.
It’s hard not to compare Napa Rose to one of our favorite Disney restaurants, California Grill at Walt Disney World. Both restaurants are themed to celebrate California’s rich wine culture with a menu heavily inspired by the sunshine state. Aside from that, we found Napa Rose and California Grill to have very little in common.
We were surprised to quickly get a reservation here when every other table service restaurant was completely booked. We also noticed they were not even close to being busy. Throughout our entire meal, there was no one seated around us. Our server was friendly, but not overly interested in us. The service didn’t come close to matching what we are used to receiving from California Grill. Also, unrelated to the service, Napa Rose does not take DVC discounts, which is surprising at Disneyland, where DVC discounts are more prevalent at most dining locations.
Like most signature restaurants, the food at Napa Rose changes seasonally. Our options were geared towards fall and winter flavors. Here are the dishes we chose and what we thought about each one.
Bread Service (included): This was honestly my favorite part of the meal. The basket presented to us had a variety of breads- a sourdough, a sun-dried tomato bread, and a cheddar cheese pull-apart. They were warm and comforting and a great beginning to a meal. The crackers in the basket were okay, but could have benefitted from something to dip them it.
Signature Pizzetta ($19.00): This was their version of a flatbread or small pizza. It contained prosciutto, black figs, caramelized onions, and cambozola cheese. The flavors here were unique, and prosciutto is excellent on pizza. The cheese was one of the pungent overpowering types, but the other flavors seemed to balance it out some. The only real complaint we would have about this dish was that it was very salty. I can’t say it was the best appetizer I’ve ever had, but it was tasty.
Harvest Market Paella ($38): with added shrimp ($15): This dish had mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, other vegetables, rice, and chickpea fritters in a saffron tomato broth. I chose it because I was looking for something to warm me up. I asked to add shrimp since it was a vegetarian dish, and I wanted a little more substance. While the shrimp were good, they were an unnecessary added expense, and a few shrimp were costly. The dish was hearty enough on its own. The only part of this dish I didn’t enjoy was the chickpea fritters, which tasted like something deep-fried at a county fair. They were not as good as other fried chickpea items I have experienced from Disney in the past (like hummus fries, falafels, etc.). Overall, this was like having a comforting bowl of soup on a cold day, and the broth was uniquely flavorful.
Orange Honey and Almond Roasted Duck Breast ($45): Paul ordered this dish, which included duck confit and cranberry essence. He felt is was very seasonally appropriate. Having many duck dishes in the past, his thoughts on this were that the flavors were delicious, but the duck itself was tough, and there was not enough of the glaze to make up for it. Overall, it may not have been worth the cost.
Hearth-roasted organic broccoli ($10): This broccoli was served charred with olive oil, garlic, and lemon. It was a good accompaniment, but we agreed we wouldn’t order it again due to it not being worth $10.
Sticky Toffee Pudding and Date Shake ($15): This was the part of the meal we had wish we went out and grabbed dessert in the parks. The dessert was small, the toffee pudding was dry, and the date shake was nothing special as it tasted like plain vanilla. It’s hard to think about the amazing desserts we have had at California Grill or The Boathouse in Florida and not feel like this one falls short of Disney signature dining.
The California wine country theme is evident throughout and fits in well with the motif of the Grand Californian Resort. While it can’t compete with the spectacular views offered at California Grill in Disney World, the atmosphere at Napa Rose is warm, inviting, and elegant. We were initially worried about not being dressed well enough, but our casual clothing blended in with most of our fellow diners.
I can’t say that I am eager to return to Napa Rose any time soon. When I compare this signature experience to the many others we have had around Disney properties; it ranks pretty low. I would be much more apt to travel over to the casual Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen for another meal.
With that said, I know many who have sung praises for Napa Rose, so don’t let our one experience deter you from trying it for yourself. Let me know in the comments what you think about this signature restaurant at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort!