REVIEW: Storytellers Cafe reopens with delicious non-buffet meal at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

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As the gradual reopening of Disneyland Resort continues, we are seeing more restaurants return. At Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the Storytellers Cafe has reopened as a sit-down restaurant instead of a buffet.

Arrival

Diners get three hours of free valet parking at the Grand Californian and they’ll check the name on your reservation at the door. If you are coming through Downtown Disney District, you can show them your reservation on your phone to be let through.

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Guests can check in for their reservation through the Disneyland app and will receive a text message when their table is ready. Or guests can check in with the host and wait to be called.

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The decoration and architecture of the Storytellers Cafe are inspired by Californian folklore.

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Guests are seated at a distance, with many tables left empty.

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The buffet area is closed.

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Chefs can still be seen working behind the counters.

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Menu

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The menus in English and Spanish are accessible online and via QR code. The fixed price meal is $39 per adult and $25 per child. You get a ton of food for that price, including four family-style entrees, one dessert, and a huge entree of your choice.

Little bread

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Before the appetizers, they bring rolls.

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These are typical sourdough buns with balls of soft butter.

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Unless you absolutely love bread, skip it. There’s a ton of food waiting for you, and you don’t want to stuff yourself with bread.

Appetizers

Roasted Corn Chowder

with roast chicken, bacon and cilantro

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This chowder, along with the burger and bread pudding, were our favorites. We would have been happy with several bowls of this.

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There were giant chunks of tender potatoes, roasted corn kernels and crispy bacon inside.

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We had a hard time finding pieces of chicken but we didn’t miss it. The texture wasn’t too thick but it was still a filling and good chowder.

Mixed green salad

Cucumber, carrot ribbons, tomatoes, radish and honey-balsamic vinaigrette

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It wasn’t anything too special. It’s just a typical salad that was overdressed. If you don’t like the balsamic dressing or want to control the amount, ask for it on the side.

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The vegetables were fresh and we ate a small plate, but save room for any other offerings to come.

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Blister Shishito Peppers

Garlic-Ponzu and Lemon Reduction

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Obviously, if you don’t like peppers or spices, skip them. The smaller, more blistered, blackened peppers weren’t super spicy.

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The flavor came out better after squeezing the fresh lemons all over, so do that first. You’ll need the acid to cut out some of the spice, and the citrus spice up the ponzu sauce.

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Those willing to brave the spice will be rewarded with these well-seasoned peppers.

Garlic and Soy Glazed Chicken Wings

Fresno chili, Togarashi spices, furikake, carrot and celery ribbons

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Although they are an appetizer, our wings came long after our entrees. The kitchen was struggling to send out food now that it’s no longer a buffet, but we didn’t mind the somewhat slow service. The wings were of good quality and very meaty.

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The garlic and soy glaze was quite sticky, but gave the wings a slight Asian flavor that wasn’t spicy.

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The furikake added a little salt, which really brought out the garlic flavor, but wasn’t overpowering.

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These were good and would make most wing lovers happy.

Starters

Classic Pepperoni Pizza

Premium Pepperoni, Grana Padano and Aged Provolone

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Unfortunately it turned out to be the same greasy mess of a pizza we had before.

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Unless you really like pizza or have a really picky eater, we’d skip this. You get a whole pizza, but we really can’t get past the fat.

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It has a decent flavor and the pepperoni and cheese seem to be high quality, but it lacked sauce. The super thin crust just lets the fat soak in.

Wagyu American Burger

Toast, mushroom spread, beer cheese sauce, grilled onion, tomato, lettuce, pickles and fries or fresh fruit

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This burger is cooked to your preference and comes with a choice of fruit or fries. We went with the fries.

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It’s a great starter choice. We could tell the meat was high quality. It was a thick patty and was super juicy with amazing flavor. All the toppings blended well.

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The bun was thick enough to keep the burger together but not so thick that it was all bread. The real star was the beer cheese sauce. It was so good and had a consistency of nacho cheese, but was much better quality.

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The grilled onions were sautéed to perfection and added texture. The pickles and tomato gave it the necessary acidity.

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The fries were crispy, salty and the perfect accompaniment to this excellent all-American meal.

Dessert

Bread pudding and chef’s choice of assorted cookies

with fresh strawberries, ice cream, custard and whipped cream

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One of the cookies was peanut butter and the other was oatmeal chocolate chips.

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The peanut butter cookie was soft, delicious, and had chunks of peanuts in it for an overall good peanut butter taste.

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We assumed the oatmeal cookie would be tough, but it was also soft and easily broke in half.

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Both cookies were good but nothing too special.

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The four strawberries on the side were small and looked a bit out of place.

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The real star was the amazing bread pudding.

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It was hot, which melted the ice, but we didn’t mind.

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The bread was soft and sweet with a deep vanilla bean flavor.

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The custard added enough sweetness without being overwhelming.

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The whipped cream lightened it up as needed.

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This was by far the best bread pudding we had on the property. It was layer upon layer of gooey goodness. We couldn’t finish it but they brought us a box so we could take it home later.

Globally

The service was a bit messy as the cast members adapted to the seated style instead of a buffet. The experience lasted nearly two hours, something to keep in mind if you’re short on time. The atmosphere was very relaxing and the decor is beautiful. Everything was delicious except the greasy pizza. As a local we would definitely stay here again, especially with the ability to park at the hotel.

What would you order at the Storytellers Cafe? Let us know in the comments.

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