For Mr OCAnn's birthday, I planned an evening with tix to "Tis the Season" @ the OC Performing Arts Center followed by dinner at Napa Rose (NR). Unfortunately, a week prior, I called Disney's restaurant reservation line 714-781-DINE and it was not possible to get ANY reservations at the Napa Rose on the night of, or on any night before or after...reservations were not available until AFTER Christmas. =( However, I thought I'd give their other number for large parties & chef's counter 714-300-7170 a try. They had seats for the night of "Tis the Season" for 2! Kismet!
We were planning to park at DTD, but all entrances to parking were closed, so our only option was to park at the Grand Californian. What we didn't know was that if you have dinner reservations @ NR, valet parking is complimentary at the hotel. We were a bit early, so when we checked into NR, we were seated at the lounge. Here, tourists were very casually dressed and probably unable to secure reservations, thought that dinner in the lounge was better than not having a NR meal at all. =)
Service reminded me of old-school Disney; it was professional and friendly...it made me happy to be there. We were called and taken to the counter and asked about what we'd like. When we explained that it was our first visit to the Chef's Counter (CC), they said that our options were either to order from the menu or have the chef decide for us. Sitting at the CC, it was only apropos to let the chef decide. Chef Gloria asked what our likes/dislikes were, whether we had any allergies and how we like our meat prepared. We told her that we were completely in her hands (Chef Sutton was off that evening) and anything she wanted to prepare was fine with us.
What we got was two different 7 or 8 course meal (+ a palate cleanser). Each dish was cooked and seasoned well; there were no complaints. We certainly had our favourites, but nothing was amiss. It was a perfect meal. Here's what we had.
1. An amuse of a savoury creme brulee (I should have written down what we had, so I'm going by my poor memory).
2. A starter of a nice, huge pan-fried scallop; Mr OCAnn had black cod. Both were delicious. I wanted seconds...of both.
3. Pheasant dumpling with truffle shavings. I loved this dish too. If Mr OCAnn hadn't eaten all the bread (he missed lunch), I would have liked to sop up the broth.... I was so engrossed with this dish, I don't remember what DH had. With lots of mushrooms of various kinds, this was another of the evening's favourites.
4. Mushrooms bisque/cappucino. I love mushrooms, so I really enjoyed this creamy, earthy soup. Mr OCAnn had a turnip soup; he proclaimed that this was so good that it didn't taste like turnip.
5. Then came duck. It was served rare/medium rare. And OMG, this was the best duck I've ever had. Mr OCAnn got the Christmas goose. We both loved our dishes.
We then were served a palate cleanser of house-made orange + citrus gelee. Sweet, but light.
6. Swordfish & oxtail came next. By this point, I was full. I finished the fall-apart-in-your-mouth oxtail, but couldn't finish the swordfish. My oxtail was so good, I didn't care what Mr OCAnn was having...and I didn't want to share any more bites (as we had been throughout the evening).
7. Dessert was hot apple cider and an apple crumble. DH had something else. These were good (not great).
I believe there was another dish in there, but I can't remember what it was. So we each had different 8-courses, paced well. We had fun watching meals being prepared and observing the energy of a smooth and well-run kitchen; the food was delicious and the service top-notch. It was an excellent experience. And the most surprising thing about the meal was that it was only $85/person (pre-tax, tip & beverages).
We're gonna go back. =)