Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Napa Rose Restaurant Serves Up Magic at Disneyland

Have you ever wondered, "What's the tastiest place on Earth?" Well, it could very well be the Napa Rose restaurant.

  1. One of the many delicious creations found at Napa Rose.In the shadow of Grizzly Peak, tucked away between Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure, sits the world-renowned, award-winning Napa Rose. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2011, it resides inside the majestic Grand Californian Hotel – the restaurant's decor reflects the hotel's Arts and Crafts-inspired architecture.

Upon entering the restaurant, you're immediately struck by the warm and inviting rose and amber-hued linens, wall coverings, light fixtures, and furniture. Wine bottles (a small representation of the 16,000 bottles resting in the cellar) are displayed like precious artifacts.

Many Guests stroll out onto the wisteria-filled terrace in the back with a glass of wine and appetizers to lounge among the inviting herb garden and grape arbor.

But the star of the restaurant is the large, expansive kitchen – gleaming in stainless steel, it's a welcoming beacon for the thousands of Guests who visit each year. Andrew Sutton, Napa Rose Executive Chef, personally designed the kitchen as a way for Guests and kitchen staff to mix and mingle. "Because the kitchen's so open," he explains, "People come by and say 'thank you' – as a chef, that's a treat."

Disney Animation head John Lasseter, Paul McCartney, vacationing families, and repeat customers have all enjoyed dining at the Chef's Counter, an up close-and-personal kitchenside dining area that puts Guests directly across from the kitchen. "It's fun, we have a good time, and people enjoy it," Chef Andrew says.

But if the kitchen is the star, then the food is definitely the main attraction. The cuisine, inspired by Napa Valley's reverence for the best in seasonal ingredients, boasts a menu that includes dishes like Sauteed Portobello Mushroom Ravioli in Truffled Sage Brown Butter, Zinfandel Braised Angus Beef Short Rib, Citrus Seared Ahi Sashimi, and S'Mores Popover (a scrumptious dessert made with toasted marshmallows, peanut butter ice cream, and chocolate sauce).

The Vintner's Menu is a four-course tasting menu that changes 52 times a year and features the best of the best of what's in season. With so many dishes changing weekly, how does the chef stay inspired? Andrew says that inspiration is easy to come by. "Food to me is an amazing playground – we'll look at something a different way. Our Guests enjoy so much of what we do, that in itself becomes part of the inspiration."

Guests enjoy the restaurant and its food so much, in fact, that the Zagat Survey, which collects the ratings of restaurants by diners, rated Napa Rose no. 1 for four years in a row. It also has the distinction of being voted "Most Popular in OC." Napa Rose has also won the prestigious Distinguished Restaurants of North America Award of excellence.

With more than 25 years of culinary expertise, Chef Andrew has earned his fair share of awards, including the Antone Carême Medal, awarded to honor those rare individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the culinary profession.

When we ask how many awards the Napa Rose and Chef Andrew have won, he shrugs his shoulders and modestly answers, "I don't keep track of those things. To me, the next compliment [from a Guest] is the best thing."

So, how do you give an award-winning restaurant the Disney touch? Chef Andrew doesn't hesitate to answer, "I like to think of it as an e-ticket," he laughs, then continues, "The Disney element that we bring is respect for talent. Disney was so incredible about selecting talent – picking the best music, the best writers, the best filmmakers – our role is to make a great restaurant. And I'm supported by a wonderful front of the house with Joy Cushing and Philippe Tosques – they're warm and charming and they make the whole experience come together and my part of it is to add the creativity and cook great food."

Now you may not have a wisteria-laden terrace or an impressive wine collection ... but you can create a touch of Napa Rose in your own kitchen with a recipe Chef Andrew has been kind enough to share with Insider readers:

Sonoma Free Range Chicken Whole Roasted Wine Country Dehydrated Strawberry, Sage, Black Pepper and Lemon

Make rub in advance preferably the week before.
Select the best chicken that you can buy. Buy one chicken for every three guests one day before your event.
Remove all gizzards, the neck, and any plastic packages from the cavity of your chicken.
Rinse chicken thoroughly in salted water (Combine one quart of water and four Tbsp Kosher salt in a large bowl).

Prepare your birds for roasting –
Remove wing tips with a chef's knife.
Stuff the cavity of each chicken with:

  • Half a lemon
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 5 Whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Branch of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 Tsp Kosher salt
Rub the outside of each chicken with:
  • 1 Tsp Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp Wine Country Rub (recipe follows)
Let chicken macerate with the rub on for 6 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Place chickens in an appropriate roasting pan, back side down
Place in preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes.
Turn oven down to 375 degrees and roast for an additional 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest for 20 minutes at room temperature, to allow all of the juices to reabsorb.
Carve the birds and serve.

Wine Country Rub
  • 4 Tbsp Dried or dehydrated strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp Black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped sage
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp Smoked fresh paprika
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp Granulated sugar
Mix all ingredients and store in ziplock baggies in dry storage or pantry.

Reservations are recommended and can be made in person for this location on a limited basis. Reservations can also be arranged in advance by calling Disney Dining at (714) 781-DINE, or (714) 781-3463. For more information, please visit the Napa Rose Dining Page.

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1 comment:

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