Friday, May 22, 2015

Napa Rose's Chef's Counter - Disney's Grand Californian Hotel

Here are 9 essential tips you need to know about dining at Napa Rose's Chef's Counter.

1. There are three Chef's Counter seating areas.

The two that fill up the quickest are the group of seats in front of the main kitchen. The last is in front of the dessert station, where we sat with front row seats as two pastry chefs assembled strawberry tarts and torched creme brûlées.

2. There are two seating times: 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

You need to reserve at least a week or two in advance. The 8:30 slots go quickest, so plan ahead. You probably want the 8:30 time slot. It's the most relaxed since no one comes after you, so you can pace yourself. This brings me to my next tip.

3. Plan for a 3-hour dinner.

Course by course, one by one, 'til you shout, "Enough! I'm done!"--a meal at the Chef's Counter is a slow, pleasureable affair. When you think you've reached the last course, you haven't. It's like one of those but-wait-there's-more informercials.

When the chef noticed a person in our party had hardly touched a steak dish, she asks if anything's wrong.

"No, it's great," my lovely companion replies. "I'm just so full!".

"But we've got another dish lined up for you guys!" said the chef.

4. Expect a five-course meal, not counting the small tastes of other things in between.

If I counted everything that came at us, there were actually about seven courses. The amuse bouche. A salad or appetizer course. The fish course. A savory mushroom cappuccino in an espresso cup. A meat course. Another course after that where anything can happen. A dessert course. And finally, a tiny box of chocolates we took home and ate two days later because it took us that long to digest this meal.

So budget your stomach space wisely. No matter how divine those cheese-crisped triangles of lavash in the basket of bread are, save them for the doggie bag. You've got courses to finish.

5. The cost per person as of this writing is $100. Wine pairings, $45.

The a la carte menu and the $100 Vitner's Table prix fixe are also available at Chef's Counter. But it would be a waste of your reservation not to surrender your evening to the whims and talents of Napa Rose's chefs and sommeliers.

Besides, if you're a fussy eater, the Chef's Counter is made for you. You don't like a certain kind of meat? Allergic to shellfish or peanuts? Have an irrational fear of vegetables? This is the time you get to tell them all your weird food aversions and fetishes. They will customize every course to you as much as they can.

Here's an example: my lovely companion told them early on she doesn't eat anything rare and doesn't like duck; so on one course, she got a lovely risotto while another friend got a still-bloody slice of duck breast.

On that same course, I (who told them "I eat everything") got the most advanced dish of all: pan-seared sweetbreads.

6. Contrary to other reports, the person who will be taking down your likes and dislikes might be your sommelier, not the executive chef or chef du cuisine.

Be sure to tell who ever asks exactly what's on your mind, or else you might get something you won't particularly enjoy.

7. For every single course, each person in your party will get a completely unique dish.

This is the mind boggling part of Napa Rose's Chef's Counter: they cook individual meals for every member of the party for each course. If you go with 3 other people, you will potentially get to sample at least 20 distinctly different dishes. You won't ever see the same dish twice. No other restaurant I know of that offers prix fixe meals would do this willingly. Napa Rose thrives on it.

8. If you do the wine pairing, you will also get a unique set of wines different than anyone else in your party.

I tasted 5 different wines that went with 5 different courses, each one completely different than what another friend was served. And be prepared to drink a lot of wine--the sommelier is not stingy with his pours. This brings me to my final point.

9. You will gain weight from this meal.

After going home fuller than I've ever been in years, when I got on the weighing scale the morning after this feast, I weighed three pounds heavier than the day before.

Napa Rose
Disneyland Resort
1313 Disneyland Dr.
Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 635-2300

Crispy House - Artesia


At 3:17 PM, Blogger briannie said...

This is always something I've wanted to try, but my husband is a SUPER picky eater and I felt like it wouldn't be worth it to enjoy as a couple. However, you says: "If you're a fussy eater, the Chef's Counter is made for you"-- do you think that a "meat and potatoes" kinda guy would have a good time at the Chef's Counter? He literally only eats caesar or dry salads, beef or chicken, and potatoes and corn as his preferred cooked veggies; no seafood.

At 10:13 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Hi Brianne,

I think he would absolutely have a good time. Just be sure to have him divulge everything he likes and doesn't like when they ask. Actually just saying that last sentence should pretty much give the kitchen enough guidance as to what to serve him. To be sure (since it is quite an investment) mention your husband's preferences to the reservationist when you call. I'm sure they'll tell you the same.

I think the only time it wouldn't be worth doing Chef's Counter is if you have a vegetarian in your midst. I'm sure they can cook a completely vegetarian multi-course meal with their eyes closed, but they'll still charge you $100!


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