The Vineyard Room - dinner - December 30, 2005
Arriving at the Disneyland Resort on a Friday night at about 7pm, we decided to have dinner at the Vineyard Room in Disney's California Adventure (DCA) since we hadn't been there in a while. We didn't have a reservation and were hoping we'd still be able to get in, and we were happy that it ended up being only about a 10 minute wait. The restaurant is covered but is open to the elements on the side, and with a slight chill in the air, it was nice to have the overheard heaters on, though I ended up getting cold enough to have to put my jacket on during the course of dinner.
On a prior visit, as we were in the waiting area, there had been a bowl of cherries and other fruit that we could help ourselves to as we waited. We weren't particularly surprised that there was no fruit on this visit given the time of year and that most people probably wouldn't be interested in cold fruit given the weather, but one change we were disappointed to note after we sat down was that the restaurant no longer offered complimentary Evian or Pellegrino water with dinner. We did note later that the dinner price had not changed since at least 2003, but whereas we might not have noticed a price increase in the intervening two years, we definitely noticed the removal of the complimentary water.
After the server had taken our order and bread was brought to the table, we sat and enjoyed the view from the terrace. We had noticed when we were being seated that there were quite a few strollers in the entrance area, and after we sat down, we noticed there were several tables near us with small children. On previous visits, we had not recalled there being quite as many kids there, but perhaps with the season, the adults wanted to be able to enjoy a nicer meal at a place where the kids would still be comfortable. We are also big fans of Napa Rose in the Grand Californian Hotel, and The Vineyard Room is a good "training ground" for Napa Rose, especially for parents with young kids who might not be ready for Napa Rose. The Vineyard Room's menu contains some items that are similarly eclectic to the Napa Rose's menu offerings, but the atmosphere is much less formal and a bit louder, partly due to the open nature of the restaurant, even though the servers and other restaurant employees are very attentive. We noticed that quite a few of the children at various tables were playing with their glow toys, something we've not seen before at Napa Rose. You can also see and hear the sights and sounds of DCA, something else that doesn't intrude into the Napa Rose's closed restaurant. As we were waiting for our first courses, we heard an announcement being broadcast in the park that because of the large crowds, Disneyland would actually be offering a third performance of Fantasmic that evening. At first, we thought it was an odd announcement to make in another park, but given the probably large numbers of people who could visit both parks on the same day, it was probably a convenience to let them know about the added show.
For the first course, I had ordered the wine country platter. The smoked salmon and Peruvian purple potatoes were quite good, as were the fig and prosciutto panini, but I particularly enjoyed the artichoke caponata and the picked beet salad. There was a tasting portion of each, which made for a nice mix of flavors. My husband had ordered the parma prosciutto, which he'd had before, and he said it was just as good as ever.
As we were waiting for our second courses, I noticed a man at another table was leaning on the floor, so I thought he had dropped something. When I realized that he was actually kneeling on one knee in front of a woman, I alerted my husband, and we both watched as the man proposed to the very surprised and very delighted woman. We joined the other people in the restaurant in applause as she accepted an he put the ring on her finger. What a great place for a proposal! She seemed very stunned, and both looked very happy.
For my second course, I had ordered the tuna carpaccio, which I really enjoyed, but the dressing was very heavy on the lemon, which I normally like, but it was unexpectedly quite sour. My husband had the duck and enjoyed that as well.
I had ordered just the food whereas my husband had opted to add the wine pairing. There is a list of wines from which you can order one to accompany each course. For the main course, he had requested a super tuscan blend, so when the server brought over a merlot, my husband had to correct him, so the server went to get the correct wine. My husband noted that the merlot he was about to be served was not actually listed as one of the wine pairing selections, so we thought it a bit odd that the server wouldn't be aware of which wines were included as options for the wine pairing.
For my main course, I had ordered the ribeye steak, which was cooked perfectly medium rare as I had requested. The accompaniments and sauce were quite tasty as well. My husband had ordered the lamb shank, and he very much enjoyed that. He said the meat fell right off the bone and was very flavorful.
For dessert, I had ordered the pear tart tatin, and I especially enjoyed the accompanying pistachio gelato. My husband had ordered the chocolate fondant, which was kind of like a small chocolate souffle, and he enjoyed that. However, the server again brought the wrong wine, pouring a portacinco rather than the porto that my husband had ordered. He had already poured the wine before my husband noticed that it wasn't the right one, and my husband opted not to bring it to his attention. This was the first time when there had been problems with the wine, so hopefully, that was just an isolated incident.
The Vineyard Room offers a 15% discount for premium annual passholders. As we were finishing up our check, Disney's Electrical Parade was just getting ready to start, so we decided to stay and watch the parade from upstairs. There are some tables by the edge, so for them, they just had to stand up. Since we had been at a table that was a bit further in, we went to stand near a table that had been empty, and we enjoyed watching the parade from that vantage point. It was actually a very different view of the parade, as I always watched the parade from the ground level, but from the elevated position, you got a much more complete view of the floats.
I would definitely recommend The Vineyard Room. The menu items are a bit limited (though the menu changes seasonally), but if the selections are to your liking, it's definitely worth a visit.
For the current (Winter 2005) dinner menu, please click here.
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