Nostalgia of Old Hollywood, a bit of Disney Magic, and superlative single malts at Carthay Circle Restaurant made for a sublime dining experience during a recent visit to Disney California Adventure Park, in Anaheim, CA. Today’s Carthay Circle Theatre is a faithful homage to its iconic Los Angeles namesake, one of the world’s premier “Picture Palaces”. It was at the original Carthay Circle Theatre that many blockbuster films had their world premieres, including Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 and Fantasia in 1941. While the restaurant is open to all visitors to the park, we enjoyed access to the members-only “1901” and its private lounge and bar.
Named for Walt Disney’s birth year, 1901 provides a comfortable and tranquil environment, true to the period and filled with high-tech and antique treasures that delight Disney fans. Several of the many large framed photos decorating the walls are digital, and change periodically, and a seemingly blank wall occasionally gives the sharp-eyed visitor a glimpse of Walt himself, walking by, waving from his desk, or simply thinking … eerily wonderful magic! Also displayed are signed scripts, original Mickey and Minnie dolls, vintage china place settings, family photos, and on and on.
Chef Andrew Sutton’s eclectic winter lunch menu celebrates the season with innovative twists on California cuisine. Among the highlights of the Starters were the flash fried Carthay Signature Biscuits, stuffed with white cheddar, bacon and Jalapeno with apricot honey butter. Seven lunch entrees included a Harvest Apple Salad with Duck Confit and Tuscan Kale, Tempura Fried Shrimp with Forbidden Black Rice Stir-fry, and Simply Sauteed West Coast Sole with pumpkin puree and celery root apple slaw.
After lunch in the Hollywood Room, we moved to the 1901 Bar and its top-shelf selection of spirits and wines. Once our single malts had been served, we gathered around the bar to watch Judy, our bartender, present The Ice Show. In less than a minute, Judy transformed a three-inch ice cube into a diamond-clear ice sphere using nothing but a special brass mold and gravity. The ice spheres are used in the Carthay Martini. Thankfully, the spheres are too large to fit into the special Glencairn whisky glasses our drinks were served it – no ice in fine single malts, thank you. A special bonus when enjoying a single malt is to find a chocolate that pairs nicely with the liquid. At 1901 this happened – both the Talisker 10 year old and The Macallan 18 year old, served with the house chocolate, created a luscious, creamy and utterly delicious flavor explosion in the mouth. This experience was truly a perfect way to end a wonderful afternoon.