Disneyland Resort’s Best Kept Secret: The Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose

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If you’re a foodie like me, you’re always looking for the next hidden gem, a refreshing take on basic ingredients, or a unique dining experience. Wrap all of that up with world-class Disney service and you’ll find yourself in an exclusive seat at the Napa Rose Chef’s Counter. Never heard of it? Well, that may be because you have to make a little extra effort to score a reservation.

First, reservations cannot be made online. The official resort website barely touches on the existence of this experience.  If you’re not a local—or prefer picking up a phone, you’ll need to call the Grand Californian Hotel directly for the most efficient service. You will then be forwarded to the Napa Rose restaurant where you’ll be able to make the reservation, or leave a message for them to call you back. Reservations can also be made in person at the restaurant itself. I was a little alarmed that all they took to hold my space was my name and phone number; this alone told me that it’s still one of Disney’s best kept secrets.

There are two dining times: 5:30pm & 8pm, and a total of 12 available seats that are split between the main preparation area (8) and the dessert station of the kitchen (4). The cost of sitting at the Chef’s Counter varies based on the experience you choose. You are able to order from the regular menu, the seasonal 4-course vintner’s menu, or you can have a completely custom 6-course “tasting menu” created just for you. Let’s be real, this is the main reason to dine at the Chef’s Counter. This dining option will set you back $100 a person. You can also add a custom wine pairing (with generous pours) created to match seamlessly with your meal.

Mickey let me finish off this bottle halfway through the pairing!

I chose to tackle this experience at the first seating, hoping to watch the kitchen ‘wake up’ for the evening’s meal service. My server, Mickey (yes, really—the man, not the mouse), escorted me over to the prep and approval side of the kitchen and I couldn’t have been happier with my view.

The view from my seat and a peek at the bread service.

Unlike most Chef’s Counters, Napa Rose tailors your meal to your likes and dislikes. The Chef and Sous Chef came over to make a complete list of things I absolutely wouldn’t eat, along with a list of things that make me drool, and Mickey convinced me that I needed to partake in a wine pairing. They also checked in regularly and lovingly shared details on the dishes I received.

Even the palate cleanser was note worthy. I could have eaten an entire bowl!

Aside from the meal itself, the best part of this dining experience was watching the kitchen come alive. Do not be afraid to ask questions and chat with the kitchen staff. The seating was designed for it and they enjoy sharing their knowledge while talking about the dishes they are making.

It’s clear they are passionate about their craft and place their focus on producing quality over quantity (no leftovers here!) If you’re lucky, you’ll even get an extra taste or two.

Don’t be disappointed by my lack of detail on the food itself—you probably won’t be served the same creations as I had.

The most delicious scallop and shrimp dish I have ever consumed…& quite possibly the largest scallop ever.

There’s also the possibility that everyone in your party will have different dishes given to them for the entirety of the tasting. Let’s hope you don’t mind sharing! I’m guilty of invading my fiancé’s plate a few times.

He tried hard to keep me away from his plate but he did not succeed. Napa Rose managed to make vegetables finger-lickin’-good.
Seriously, how could you turn away this plate of asparagus?!

Some of the items served are playful takes on regular menu offerings, while others are made exclusively for each diner.

They even made a fun and fruity non-alcoholic beverage for a friend!

They liked to push their given boundaries and I can honestly say I’ve never had such an incredible, thoughtfully-made meal. It’s the ultimate foodie ‘blind date’ with food itself!

They definitely got me to step out of my comfort zone with this one! Delicious piece of lamb with peas.
I didn’t think I had room for dessert, but this definitely hit the spot. I’m a self proclaimed anti-sweets diner who may have now been converted.

If you have the opportunity to dine at this exclusive fine dining experience, I highly recommend fitting it in to your schedule. It’s away from the crowds in the park, removed from the over-hyped restaurants, and you can really immerse yourself in the moment.

Be sure to stop by the wine room on your way out! You’ll find quite a few hidden friends!

Whether you’re adventurous or the pickiest of the bunch, Napa Rose will ensure your Tasting Menu at the Chef’s Counter is one you won’t soon forget.

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About the author

Lily

I’m a Florida native that figured out that the West Coast is truly the best coast in 2014. Former WDW Cast Member, current DLR AP holder, lifelong Disney enthusiast. I love sharing my nerdy tidbits on a daily basis. Contact me at [email protected]

3 Comments

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  • We’re doing it in June. My parents did it a few years ago and raved about it for months. So stoked! Do you have any recommendations about a specific spot to sit or is it sort of “first come first serve?”

    • I really loved the seating to the left of the ‘approval’ area when you are facing the kitchen. You’re able to see the action, including all the prep. It’s a wonderful spot to interact with the chefs as they work. I hope you enjoy your visit!

      • We did this last summer and enjoyed it so much we are heading back this July on our way to Aulani. We ate in the far left seats and really enjoyed it.This time we opted for the middle seating that gives you a view of the entrees, appetizers and desserts. Pretty much right in the center of it all. I don’t think you can go wrong anywhere you pick. This was the highlight of my 19 year old daughters vacation. she LOVED IT!

        Also the times have recently changed. Early seating is 5 pm now which works well for me since we are on EAst Coast time and will have just arrived the day before.

        Also take note it is NOT 60 days out it it goes by first of athe month 60 days out. So a July 27th seating would open up May 1st…

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