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Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Resort – Foodie Dreams Do Come True

23 Jan
 

Disneyland is known for bringing a twinkle to children’s eyes and family fun, but did you know that Disney can also bring a twinkle to a foodie’s eyes and provide gastronomic fun? Yes the fables are true, the Disneyland Resort is a treasure trove of foodie centric entertainment. This blog post will highlight one of the Disneyland Resort’s best restaurants, Steakhouse 55.

This steakhouse is a true hidden gem that is tucked away inside the Disneyland Hotel and not widely known by the general public. Yet, again I am going to put myself out on a limb and say that Steakhouse 55 can give some of the better Chicago Steakhouses a run for their money. This restaurant pays meticulous attention to the quality of their dishes and features some of the most flavorful and juicy steaks that I have experienced.

This restaurant is owned and managed by the Disneyland resort, so you can expect the same attention to detail, quality and fabulous customer service that you expect from your Disneyland park experience. This restaurant is great if you are visiting the Disneyland Resort and need some down time and a great meal; although if you enjoy good food, I also recommend making a trip to the resort just for this restaurant – no park admission required.

How to get there

First of all you do not need admission to the park to try this restaurant, nor do you have to pay for parking. If you are coming to Steakhouse 55, use the Disneyland Hotel Valet parking for free! Yes I did say free valet parking, all you need is to get your parking ticket validated in the restaurant! Woot Woot!  To get to the Disneyland Hotel Valet just follow these directions.  Exit the 5 freeway on Ball road and enter the resort via Disneyland Road. Follow the signs on Disneyland Road to the Disneyland Hotel . Go through the parking booth and just tell them that you are dining at SteakHouse 55, and then just pull up to the valet stand. Easy!

Next, to find Steakhouse 55, you will need to find your way to the conference halls. Simply walk through the lobby to the patio. Next, enter the conference hall area and you will see the signs for Goof’s Kitchen and Steakhouse 55.  It’s easy to find and if you get lost, just ask anyone in uniform…they are pretty helpful. Although watch out for the Donald character, I find him a little shady.

But what if I am coming from the Theme Parks or Downtown Disney? No Problem! Just  head towards the Disneyland Hotel via Downtown Disney. Pass the giant Fantasia hat and walk into the hotel. Just follow the signs from there. By the way if you are not from Southern California and need a good guide for getting around the Disneyland Resort, then I suggest that you visit my friend’s Travel Blog, Sites with Stacey. She has some great information about the resorts restaurants, bars and ammenities.

Venue and Ambiance

Cocktail Lounge

Since this is Disneyland, you will be sharing the space with children. With that said, don’t be surprised when I tell you that Steakhouse 55 shares a common cocktail lounge with Goofy’s Kitchen. I am sure many of you have gone to sketchier places to get good food, so do not let a couple of kids scare you away.  The cocktail lounge is classy, well-appointed and offers a very nice cocktails. When I dine with friends at Steakhouse 55, we will often meet in the cocktail lounge for a couple of attitude adjustments before dinning.

Steakhouse 55 Dinning Room

The restaurant itself is decorated like a classic 1930’s Hollywood Steakhouse. The dinning room is adorned with dark woods, white paneling, and art deco inspired fixtures. The decor casts an intimate hue over the dining room. The rich elegance of dark and brooding intimacy is broken up by oversized black and white photos of golden Hollywood Stars. These black and white pictures add a touch of simple elegance and are reminiscent of a bygone era. This restaurant also features a private dining area that looks like it can accommodate 15-20+ people.

Menu Structure and $Cost

The menu is structured so that most Entrees are served a la cart style, such that if you order a steak you will just be receiving a steak in true steakhouse fashion. If you desire sides, you will be ordering these separately. The sides are fairly large, so I would recommend sharing sides. My recommendation is to order several for the table.

You should budget about $40+ a person for a fine steak and a shared artisanal side. If you are planning on going the full hog and ordering appetizers, salads, and sharing multiple bottles of wine, in addition to the steak and sides, you should be budgeting $80+ per person. The Prix-Fixe meals is always a good deals as it includes a salad, entree and dessert for about $40.   With the price range for a meal at Steakhouse 55,  you should generally expect a finer cut of beef, exquisite sides and phenomenal service. I have been to this restaurant over eight times and have never been disappointed with my experience.

A Note About Bread

Steakhouse Bread - The oracle for the rest of the meal

I always judge a steakhouse by it’s bread. I have found a near-perfect correlation between awesome steakhouse bread and the rest of the dinner. I have a theory that if the Chef places attentive focus on the bread, then he will also treat the rest of the meal with equal finesse. Steakhouse 55 presented a loaf of sourdough with a slight tang,  fluffy soft center and crunchy exterior. This bread  was glorious when paired with their whipped butter. If my fortune-telling skills are accurate, this will be an amazing meal.

What We Ordered

Sides

Chef’s Potato Stack Au Gratin – This is a sinfully delicious side dish! This dish is made from layers of thinly cut potatoes, butter and cheese. The potato stack is a nice large square-cut with a

Potato au gratin- Image from Disneylandnews.com

 respectable height. When you look at the potato stack, it appears to be very dense and built like a brick house. Don’t let its appearance fool you, this au gratin is soft and had a velvety feel on the tongue and lips. This Potato stack will make prudish men blush from its cheesy decadence. Chef Martin uses the right balance of potato, cheese, butter and to form this wonderful dish. Our entire table agreed that this dish was amazing and a minor skirmish occurred for seconds. My tablemate still bears the scars of fisticuffs over the last bite. I am giving the potato au gratin 4.5 out of 5.

Spring Greens Salad – This salad appears to have a mixture salad greens

The Spring Greens Salad had a well balanced flavor and texture profile

including arugula, chicory, mesclum, and mache. This combination of lettuce provided buttery, sweet and just slight hints of bitter. The candied pecans, fresh raspberries, and tart raspberry vinaigrette rounded out the flavors of this salad. This was a pleasant salad that filled its role of staving off hunger while waiting for the main course. I am giving this salad 4.0 out of 5.

Main Course

For the Main Course, the entire table ordered pretty much the same thing, either Prime Rib or the Bone-In Rib Eye Steak. This ordering pattern was equally split by gender. All the dudes ordered the bone-in steak and ladies the prime rib (insert “that’s what she said” joke here). Before I start the description of the dishes let me first answer the question, “What is the difference between a Rib-Eye Steak and Prime Rib?

Primer on cuts of Prime Steaks (skip this section if you are a former butcher)

Similarities

Both Prime Rib and Rib Eye come from the same section of the cow, the rib. Although these cuts differ in how they are extracted and cooked. Both the “Rib-eye” and “Prime Rib” come from the same rib-section of the cow, high up near the spine where the meat is least exercised. Extracting the meat from this section of the cow provides a tender cut that is marbled with fat. So what is the difference between the Prime Ribs of Beef and the Rib-Eye?

Differences

•  Rib Eye is cut across the muscle into thick slices and will sometimes include a cross-section of the rib bone with the meat. The inclusion of rib-bone increases the natural flavors of the steak during the cooking process. The rib eye cut is typically grilled or broiled (dry/direct heat) to lock in juices. The cut is also known as the “Delmonico” or the Cowboy steak.

•  Prime Ribs is cut along the bone line in sections of rib bones to form a roast, hence the name “Prime Ribs of Beef.” This roast of prime ribs is cooked on indirect heat in an oven for an extended duration, often covered so that it cooks in a wet-heat. The cooked “Loaf” is then cut to order, medium-well cuts are located at the edges and rare is located in the center.

 
 

Bone-In Rib Eye Steak- This cut of steak feels carnal as it arrives to your table with a rib bone popping out of the massive 18-ounce slab of beef. I always

Bone-In Rib Eye Steak - Primal in Presentation, but always classy

tear up a little bit when it comes out. My guy friends will often put a soft hand on my back and whisper quietly, “It’s o.k. to cry over awesomeness.” The steak is dry aged and as a result much of the connective tissue is broken down. This technique leaves the steak tender and juicy. The rib-eye is prepared with their “Signature Steakhouse 55 Dry Rub.” This dry seasoning preparation adds a crusting during the cooking process, thus providing both flavor and helps to lock the juices into the muscle. The rub is delicious, but does not dominate on the palate, rather it simply enhances the steak’s natural flavors. When my personal steak arrived, it had a nice shimmering brown color with clean char lines and natural beef juices oozing out of the steak and onto the plate.

Perfect execution of Grilling! Pink Throughout and dripping with juices

I ordered my steak medium, so I pre-tested it by gently pushing my thumb into the center; the steak was soft with a slight resistance. So far so good! I cut the steak open at its thickest part and revealed that it was pink throughout, with juices seeping onto the plate. I took a bite into the steak and could taste the natural flavors of the angus beef. I am giving this dish a 4.5 out of 5 for its flavor, juiciness and flawless cooking

Prime Rib– There was 3 orders of prime rib placed, all requested to be cooked at medium or medium-rare. Each of the prime ribs were different portions, almost small, medium and large.

The Largest Prime Rib - Ordered a Medium-Rare but looked more medium

I did not have a scale to verify my observation, but it did look like there was variation in the cutting processes leading to inequality of sizes. My second observation is that two of the prime ribs were cooked more than requested. For example, one of the medium-rare cut was cooked more medium and the medium was  medium-well. After a bit of juggling of plates between the girls, everyone got the size and cooking style they preferred from the line-up and the table was back to smiles. As expected from a prime rib, the meat was a rich dark pink and slightly bled onto the plate. The meat itself appeared of high quality, with a majority of the cut being beef and only smaller clouds of fat at the corners. I always reserve my table knife when eating prime rib, as a testing tool to check the tenderness of the meat. How did the Steakhouse 55 prime rib fare in this test? Excellent! The table knife cut clean through the prime rib with little cutting and fork play. When using the steak knife, it cut through the meat in quick clean slices like a proverbial stick of butter.

The Medium Size Prime Rib - This Prime Rib was ordered medium but came out more Medium-Well

But what about the taste? Incredible! The prime ribs where obviously of a superior grade and hand trimmed. The Prime Rib roast must have gone through an aging process in order to achieve this level of natural flavoring. Normally I like to use au jus and creamy horseradish, although this prime rib had the right balance of rich natural beef flavor and seasoning to eat alone. I ate a portion of my wife’s prime rib like a caveman and it was glorious. The flavor and tenderness of the prime rib should have earned it a perfect 5 out of 5 points, on par with a famous prime rib restaurant.

The Smallest of the Prime Ribs - This one came out medium-rare as ordered. I think there was a vampire at our table

Although the issues in the cutting technique left variation in sizes and final temperature of the cuts. As a result, I am giving the prime ribs of beef 4 out of 5 for this visit. 

Aside: During previous visits the Chef nailed the Prime Rib perfectly in size and temperature. On previous visits I would have given the Prime Rib a 4.75 out of 5.  I will post an update to this blog the next time I visit Steakhouse 55, with an updated observation on the Prime Rib. With that said a 4 out of 5 is a very good score, I just expect near perfection from Chef Martin’s staff.

Other notable dishes you should try

-Sustainable Seafood: Although this is a steakhouse, Chef Martin’s crew actually prepares some very excellent fish dishes. In the past I have ordered the Halibut and it was extremely juicy and well-seasoned. One of the more noteworthy moves is Chef’s Martin switching to only sustainable seafood at Steakhouse 55.

-Porterhouse Steak: A giant carnal steak that features two types of cuts in one. Come hungry for this dish, it is almost 20 ounces. 4.25 out of 5

-Filet Mignon: Their most tender steak that is our second favorite dish at the restaurant. 4.5 out of 5

-Mac and Cheese: Rich and decadent! This side is an adult take on the classic comfort food. Be sure to share this side, it is tasty, yet rich, so you might get filled up before the steak arrives. 4 out of 5

Dessert

24-Layer Chocolate Cake – No offense to the main courses, but the dessert stole the show. The 24-layer cake was a complex dessert that was constructed with altering layers of chocolate cake, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and Nutella. Each of the layers were thin and altered twenty-four times all the way to the top and was coated with a dark chocolate layer.

24 Layer cake - I fell in love with a pastry

The cake was cut into a large slice and presented at our table with “oooooohs and ahhhs!” I used my fork to cut through the cake and it slid through the moistness of this decadent treat. As I pulled the cake to my mouth, strings of the chocolate and Nutella drippings hung from the fork and teased my lips before my tongue tasted the necture. O.K. enough of my waxing on with sexual innuendos!

The flavors of the milk chocolate, dark chocolate and Nutella provided a balanced flavor profile of sweet, bitter and nuttiness. The cake was moist, creamy, and melted in the mouth. The consistency of the cake was a “moist smoothness”, similar to tres leches cake due to the amount of layered fillings. This dessert paired extremely well with their fresh brewed coffee; I am getting a little gitty like a school girl thinking about it again. This desert received a very well earned 5 out of 5 stars. Click Here if you want to see a YouTube video on how the cake is constructed

My Final Thoughts

Overall this restaurant delivers very high quality food and impeccable service. Despite the kitchen’s minor fumble on the Prime Rib, I can report that I was extremely pleased with my dinning experience. For anyone planning on visiting the Disneyland Resort, I highly encourage you not to get stuck in the theme park restaurant doldrums. The Disneyland Resort has many wonderful restaurants that are foodie friendly. Not only does Steakhouse 55 offer some of the best steaks in Southern California, they also offer an oasis for weary theme park guests. After a day of sensory overload, many folks might enjoy a little decompression time over a bottle of Vino and a plate of red meat. Since this restaurant is owned by Disney, you can trust that they employ some of the most talented and trained staff. Steakhouse 55  earned 4.25 out  of 5 Stars for overall execution, ambiance, service and last but not least amazing food…a magical dinning experience (yes I went there).

 

Review of The Uva Bar in Downtown Disney- Your Adult Disney Adventure Begins Here

6 Jul

Many foodies ask, is there a culinary pulse in the Disneyland Resort? The answer is a resounding Yes!  Many of my friends ask isnt Disneyland just for kids? I say NO! you havent learned how it make an Adult Disney Adventure. In this blog post, I will be providing one possible route to have a fulfilling  adult experience at the Disneyland Report..  You will find out by the end of this post how to feast like a suckling pigs and pull off some adult style shenanigans at the Disney resort.

Although the Disney Resort  has six noteworthy restaurants, this blog post will focus on a slightly more budget friendly experience, The Uva Bar. Like all good restaurants at the Disneyland resort, the only noteworthy restaurants are outside the Disneyland Park and inside the hotels /Downtown Disney.

The Uva Bar's Art Deco Theme shines the brightest at night

The Uva Bar is located in the middle of Downtown Disneyland, adjacent to the Build a Bear store.  If you were to casually read the menu, you might not give the Uva Bar a chance due to its limited menu. Although limited, Uva’s offering are seasonal, vibrant and perfect for a high-end casual meal. As a major plus, Uva bar serves up some really nice adult beverages :)

The Uva Bar is a  circular courtyard, with the Art Deco bar at the center and dining tables radiating out. Seating is on a first come basis, with a check in line at the entrance. On a non-holiday and non-convention weekend, you can expect a 5 -20 minute wait. The shortest wait I ever experience was 30 seconds and the longest was 40 minutes during the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention.The Uva Bar is the little brother of the Patina Group. It’s o.k. sitting at the kids table can be fun

The menu is seasonal and features “Bar Smacks”(appetizers), Entre Salads, Sandwiches and Burgers, Specialties and Deserts. The appetizers can vary widely in their portion size, so if you find something that attracts your eye, be sure to ask the waiter. We ordered two seasonal items (Tuna Tartar Tacos and the flatbread) and two semi-permanent menu items (Grilled Crostini and Manchego Cheese Salad).   Uva also features a very nice selection of  micro and craft beers, that also rotates seasonally. I ordered the “North Coast Blue Start Wheat” beer and Daniele ordered a glass of Zaca Mesa cuvee wine from their respectable wine list.  I did mention that we were doing an Adult Disney, which means that you eat well and develop a very nice buzz before entering the park (No adult beverages are served in the park :( … ).

Crostinis - Wonderfully executed flavors and textures

The first dish to come out was the Crostini, which was fingerling bread rolls coated in olive oil and roasted on an open flame. The crostini is then topped with a whipped ricotta, which had a lovely guey and viscous consistency. Attop the whipped ricotta was a series of oven roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes and drizzled with balsamic.. The dish had very nice aromatics from the roasted tomatoes and balsamic. When I took the first bite, the crostini was extremely crunchy and firm, although when I bit down , it was very chewy at its core. This combination of chewy and crunchy was a nice texture counterbalance.  The combination of the sweet savory of the whipped ricotta  paired  against the sweet acidity of the tomatoes and balsamic. I give this dish a 4 out of 5 on my scale,I would order it again.

Flatbread - Overall great dish with an excellent balance of flavors

The Flatbread’s seasonal flavor was a tomato base, with grated parmesan cheese, roasted yellow corn, grilled red onion, goat cheese and center cut bacon. The bread itself  was very thin in true flat bread style. The edges and parameter where very crispy and crunchy and the center was both crunchy on the bottom and steamy soft on the ingredients side.  This dish is also a study of opposing flavors. The sweetness of the grilled red onions, corn were opposed to the richness of the goat cheese. Additionally the saltines of the cheese and bacon was opposed by the sweetness of the corn, tomato sauce and canalized onions. The flatbread was excellent in flavor, but  the ingredients were spread a little too haphazardly such that each bite was like eating a completely different flatbread. This dish gets a 4 out of 5 on my scale, I would order it again and I will recommend it.

I purposely left this image rotated sideways, as that's what my blood pressure was like after eating it

The Manchego Cheese Salad was comprised on arugula lettuce, thinly shaved slices of Manchego cheese, apples, dates, walnuts and a walnut vinaigrette. I also added chicken to the dish.  Overall the presentation was well put together, although when I took my first bite, I had a hard time tasting any other flavor but salt. Sadly, it appears that the kitchen  double salted this dish on accident? My other complaint  is that the dates were too large and should have been at least quartered instead of served whole.. The walnut vinaigrette was lite and had subtle hints of walnut;a great dressing, but yet again the flavor was overpowered by the salt. I think this dish could have been fantastic, as the flavors in the recipe theoretically should taste good together. We ended up just eating the chicken off the salad, which was cooked and seasoned flawlessly. This dish was a shame.  If I had to go for a physical I would blow my blood pressure results as a result of eating this salad. I ordered an extra North Coast Wheat beer to purge my system of the salt and add a little accelerate to my adult Disney experience. This dish gets a 2 out of 5 on my scale, I should have sent it back.

Tuna Tartare Tacos- This was my favorite dish of the meal. It consisted of three crispy wonton pastries and quick fried into taco shells.The shells were light, with a clean flavor that didn’t take away from the star of the show, the tuna tartar. The shells  and stuffed with a seasoned Tuna Tartare and topped with fresh guacamole and micro greens. The tuna tartare, as per its name, is served raw. The consistency was partially cubed and partially macerated.  The Tuna and guacamole and had a very cool and smooth texture in the mouth. The flavor was fresh and light, with a slight hint of soy sauce.  After eating the three tacos I wanted to eat more; this is a sign that I really enjoyed it. This dish was a 5 out of 5 in my book, great culinary idea and execution.

My final thoughts

Overall eating at the Uva bar was a pleasant experience with good service and excellent food. With the exception of the Manchego Salad, the food  was extremely enjoyable and prepared with a lot a of thought placed on balancing flavors and textures. The location in Downtown Disney is a great place to meet with friends for a drink and a bit of food before heading into the park. After eating great food  you will feel be stuffed like a suckling pig; after downing several adult beverages you  will walk with a little swagger in your step. Next,  I recommend jumping on the monorail station located near the Rain Forest Cafe to make a quick jump in the park. Note, the monorail shuts down for about an hour after the fireworks show, so you may have to hoof it to the main entrance #epicfailure.

Overall I give the Uva Bar a 3.5 out of 5, meaning I will come back here again especially if I want something casual and with outdoor seating. Although a 3.5 also means that I might look at other options including going to some other restaurants in Downtown Disney. The only thing keeping me from giving the Uva Bar a 4 rating was the epic failure of quality control on the manchego salad.

Addendum: The Best Places in the Disneyland Resort to Eat and Drink like a Suckling Pig Before Going into the Park

Casual

  • Trader Sams (located adjacent to the Disneyland Hotel- near the pool)- great for tropical drinks. Hint: Order your food in the adjacent quick service restaurant and they will deliver it to your outdoor patio table
  • Uva bar (Downtown Disney)-  I think you read enough to get the drift

Formal Dinning

  • Jazz Kitchen (Downtown Disney) – Order a mint Julip and try the Catfish
  • Catal (Downtown Disney) -  Seasonal menu and consistently great Mediterranean inspired dishes Perhaps a nice bottle of a Central Coast California Meritage will put you in the right footing.

if you are feeling ritzy:

  •  Napa Rose (connected to the Grand California Hotel) – A foodie’s Nirvana a bottle of wine is a must with this meal. You will leave with a smile
  • Steakhouse 55 (next to Goofy’s Kitchen and inside the Dreams Hotel)- Order the rib-eye with a big red wine. You will leave fat and happy.

Catal Restaurant & Uva Bar (Downtown Disney) on Urbanspoon

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