Sutton, the long-time chef at the Grand Californian Hotel's acclaimed Napa Rose restaurant, headed into the park last year to launch the Carthay Circle, which offers Asian- and Mediterranean-inspired California cuisine in a fine-dining setting.
As much as we enjoyed the entrees we ordered, it's Sutton's appetizers that are gaining cult status in the theme park fan community, especially for his spicy duck wings and the Carthay Circle's "signature" fried biscuits.
I'd call the biscuits fritters instead, but they pack a deceptive punch, with a peppery zing cutting the richness of the bacon-laced molten cheddar. The apricot honey butter balances the heat with a touch of fruity sweetness. The Fire Cracker wings didn't suffer from the gaminess than sometimes makes it hard for me to enjoy duck. Instead, you get a nice meaty background that stands up to the fiery Sriracha glaze.
I was expecting something more like a traditional soup, but the limited amount of spicy curry broth in the Udon Noodle Bowl served more like a sauce. Which is fine, because you'd need an asbestos-lined mouth to handle an entire bowl of this broth. But, as served, the curry warmed the noodles and vegetables without overpowering the dish. And I'm always happy to see a chef be generous with the seafood in an Udon bowl -- this one didn't skimp on the promised mussels and shrimp.
Laurie's eight-ounce burger proved too much for one person to eat. Sutton typically doesn't go overboard on portion sizes, so this would be your best candidate on the menu for splitting. Unfortunately, Laurie insisted on eating all the crispy bacon off the the burger before letting me try the half of the patty she couldn't finish. Still, the burger reminded me of the "Walt's Gourmet" burger I ordered at Disneyland Paris last summer. Yet I preferred the Carthay Circle's, as the grilled onions here helped complement the beefy taste of the patty, instead of overpowering it with the richness of foie gras.
Russell and his wife ordered the raviolis and the cavatelli, and both reported enjoying their selections immensely. Russell's young son made good work of his soba noodle bowl, too, impressing Laurie and me with his willingness to devour vegetables. Maybe he's the world's greatest young eater, or maybe (based on the taste of what I had in my bowl) the veggies are just that good.
Of course, we had to try dessert, too.
The Meyers took the pear pie, while Laurie and I polished off the chocolate cake. Each came with an accompaniment (the ice cream or the sauce) that helped contrast with the dessert's primary flavor, so you're not left with a boring one-note finish to the meal, as too often happens with dessert.
The Carthay Circle offers World of Color Fastpasses to diners who order two courses or more during their meal. That's a nice touch. In Tokyo and Paris, top Disney restaurants offered dining packages with their parks' signature nighttime shows, but you had to order specific items from limited menus to get the reserved seating. I appreciate being able to explore the entire menu while still getting the extra benefit. (Laurie and I, who've seen WOC plenty of times, headed home after the meal, so we gave Russell and his wife our extra passes to give away later in the day.)
Have you dined at the Carthay Circle? Please share your rating and review of the restaurant on our Carthay Circle Restaurant page, as well as in the comments below.Tweet
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