For those who have never been to Disneyland Resort before, if you were to be blindfolded and dropped in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, you might guess on opening your eyes that you were at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World Resort.
If instead of the lobby you were dropped in Napa Rose, one of Executive Chef Andrew Sutton’s Disneyland Signature Restaurants, there’s no danger you would think you were at Whispering Canyon Café back at WDW, with its ketchup shenanigans.
OK, so maybe that’s not a fair analogy since Wilderness Lodge has its own Signature Dining experience in Artist Point. But if the “California casual” attire of the patrons (Napa Rose doesn’t have a formal dress code unlike Artist Point) doesn’t tip you off, surely the murals of farms set among rolling hills will clue you in that you aren’t in Kansas…well, Florida.
And you would surely realize where you were after taking a look at a seasonal menu entitled “Summer in the Wine Country.”
As you would imagine, with that kind of billing and menu items like “Handcrafted Rabbit Bratwurst” and “Celebration of Summer Heirloom Vegetables,” it could be difficult to decide what to eat. For us, the convenient solution was the four course “Vintner’s Table” prix fixe menu.
I won’t go into great detail on the preparations and flavors; there are others who could do a much better job than I could. My goal is really to provide highlights with pictures and provide a ketoer’s perspective.
As for keto, it certainly wasn’t the most keto-friendly experience, but if you’re going to stray – and I would classify this as “straying” and not “falling off the wagon” – this is the way to do it: with fresh ingredients and creative recipes. It would be a shame breaking your low-carb streak with something as pedestrian as a burger and fries (see “About” tab).
With an amuse-bouche of watermelon and goat cheese seasoned with sumac, we were off.
The sumac was an interesting component that added tartness. Paired with the goat cheese, it really transformed the watermelon, which I wouldn’t generally otherwise expect to have bold flavor.
The first course was a fluke crudo (thinly sliced raw fluke) dusted with tomato basil salt and topped with a chunk heirloom tomato and lobster “relish” with agua pazza (vegetable or herb broth).
As you would expect, the fluke by itself was mild, but the flavored salt, which was on the fluke and in the broth and around the plate with the tomato-lobster combination really made the flavors pop. As you can see, the lobster chunks were a good size for dish where lobster is playing a supporting role. I would guess that the agua pazza came from the poaching of the lobster, but I could be wrong on that.
The second course was a pasta dish…I know, I know, this is supposed to be a keto blog…hear me out. The pasta, pappardelle (a wide, flat noodle), was undoubtedly the star of the bowl, but as with many pasta dishes, the pasta was really the vehicle for the other ingredients, which, in this case, included roasted chanterelles, corn, fava beans, and fresh sage.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten pasta since I started keto. And I’m fine with that only because I’ve come to care more about the sauce than the pasta. If the sauce is good and I can find a keto-friendly base (broccoli, riced cauliflower), I’m perfectly content. I did have a couple of bites of the pappardelle, which, as far as pasta goes, was spectacular, but the mushroom-fava bean-sage “sauce” really made the dish.
The third course was right down the keto fairway: grilled duck breast with a “side salad” of radicchio, little gem (lettuce), prosciutto, almonds, and peaches.
This was a great looking dish that had me ready to dive in from the second it hit the table. The duck was fantastic, and the salad was great. I had a couple of bites of the peach with the other salad ingredients, which added a fresh note, but I’m more a fan of savory duck dishes than sweet ones, so I left more of the peach on the plate than I ate.
And last came the dreaded dessert: orange chocolate devil’s food cake with marinated plums and vanilla, citrus, and sesame, topped with what I think was a concord grape sorbet.
As expected, nothing about the dessert was keto-friendly, so I tried a couple of bites, which were great, and left the rest and took in the views.
Even before keto, I was never a dessert person, and after 3 good sized courses and an amuse bouche, in each case full of new and interesting flavors, I didn’t feel like I was missing out.
Overall, it was a fantastic experience, and by the end I didn’t feel like I had knocked myself out of ketosis despite sampling a number of carby ingredients that I hadn’t had in years.
I will absolutely go back to Napa Rose on my next trip to Disneyland Resort, but I would probably order from the regular menu, which included veal and lamb entrees, although the sides on the menu during my visit were all carb-heavy: fingerling potatoes, romano beans, and truffled mac and cheese.
One thing that occurred to me too late was that Disney dining is known for being open to special requests of diners. This was confirmed for Napa Rose during a review of the restaurant website after dinner: “Chef Sutton can even create a tasting menu tailored to your preferences.”
KTK Pro Tip: Try the tasting menu, but check with your server to see if the kitchen can prepare a low-carb version. I would never dream of asking anywhere else, but given Disney’s reputation for accommodating special requests, it’s worth a try!
No thorns on this rose…Keep Ketoing The Kingdom, Kids!