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REVIEW: Fantastic Short Ribs, Decadent Peppermint Hot Cocoa Donuts, and Two Delightful Drinks from Lamplight Lounge for Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure

If you’re looking to celebrate the Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure with a traditional sit-down restaurant meal, head over to Lamplight Lounge at Pixar Pier.

Stout-braised Winter Short Ribs – $29

Served atop creamy Spiced Butternut Squash Risotto, with glazed Baby Carrots finished with Short Rib Jus Reduction, Bourbon-Cranberry Sauce, Toasted Pepitas and Pea Shoot Greens

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This is incredible. The chef said he wanted to make a dish that “feels like Thanksgiving dinner punched you in the face,” but didn’t want to use turkey. It’s definitely that. The short rib is braised in Guinness and is just so tender. The cranberry reduction is an old-style, classic cranberry sauce. Pleasantly tart, just enough to offset the rich beef. And the butternut squash risotto is a triumph. This season is meant for thick, creamy risotto, and boy, does this one take the cake. One of the best, if not THE best, risotto we’ve ever had. Just an all-around fantastic dish that cannot be improved.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Donuts – $10

Hot Cocoa-dusted Donuts with Toasted Marshmallow Crème and Peppermint-Chocolate Dipping Sauces

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This one presents a tough decision — do you eat the light, crispy, fluffy donuts on their own, or do you spread the chocolate sauce on each bite? Either way you choose, you’re in for a fantastic snack. The donuts are perfectly crisp outside, and warm and fluffy inside. The dusting of cocoa elevates these from a donut to a dessert in its own right. The marshmallow creme wasn’t available, so we got a double serving of the peppermint chocolate sauce, but we didn’t complain one bit. The chocolate sauce is so thick that it isn’t for dipping, more like spreading with a knife. It’s chocolatey and slightly minty, with crushed candy canes atop.  Overall, a fantastic dessert or snack worthy of Instagram fame.

Holiday Martini – $17.25

A festive twist on a classic, Vanilla Vodka paired with Peppermint, Chocolate Liqueur, and Frangelico, with a rim of Chocolate and Peppermint

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The holiday martini is more of a cocktail. Boozier than the other drink, but not harsh. There’s no burn, but the alcohol flavor is very forward. It’s a creamy chocolate liqueur and very minty (in a good way), thanks to the candy cane rim. Without the rim, the martini just tastes like chocolate. The hazelnut sneaks up on you for just a touch of earthiness to give it an edge.

Holiday Hot Chocolate – $15

Peppermint Schnapps and Vanilla Vodka in Hot Chocolate, topped with Whipped Cream and Peppermint

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The adult hot chocolate is fantastic. It’s not heavily boozy, just a touch. But it’s a good hot chocolate at its core, and the peppermint and alcohol enhance the flavor. No packaged Swiss Miss here. Subtly minty with a deep, rich chocolate flavor. We’d come back for this again (and especially with the short rib!).

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