The new place to be at Disney California Adventure is Lamplight Lounge. We are welcoming this place with open arms. The new California casual gastropub will be taking over where Ariel’s Grotto and the famous Cove Bar used to be. For me, I am more than happy to see this change. The restaurant is split up into two sections. The upstairs will be similar to Cove Bar and will feature appetizers and a full bar. Don’t worry, the Lobster Nachos are still on the menu and the secret drink menu (previously at Cove Bar) is still there. This location operates on a first come, first served basis. The lower section will be the restaurant itself, which will have a full menu and full bar. This section will be for reservations and for walk-ups. The wait for walk-ups can change depending on the time, but the great part is that they now have a text message setup and Lamplight Lounge will text you when the table is available. Why is this so great? You can walk around and enjoy Pixar Pier without being chained to the area. The only catch is that once you receive your text message, you will have 10 minutes to get back and check in or the reservation will be forfeited.
I was joined by Tyler Crouch and Pete Werner for lunch, and Tyler and I could not wait to share this amazing restaurant with Pete. To watch the full video review check out the video at the end of this article.
The story behind the Lamplight Lounge is that the Pixar artists and storytellers found an abandoned warehouse and with their creativity made it a home away from home where they could sit back and relax. As soon as you walk in you can find hanging pictures of beloved Pixar movies, and around the pictures are sketches that tie into the movie.
As you walk down to the restaurant, the chandelier is something you cannot miss; it is adorned with drawings and illustrations of many Pixar movies and shorts. When you make your way down the spiraling staircase you are greeted by Luxo Jr. and the Pixar ball. The walls downstairs are decorated by framed shirts which were created at the end of every film and have been loaned by Pixar so fans can appreciate them.
The inside area of the restaurant is like being transported into the Pixar archives! Walls are decorated with impressive collectible toys from Pixar films, concept art, and film posters.
The prices seem high, but the Disneyland Resort has gone through a pricing change throughout their sit-down dining options. The menu definitely has that gastropub feel — from sushi to sandwiches — and all dishes will have that Pixar flare and will be playfully presented. The allergy-friendly menu will help allergy sufferers go through the options and help them with making their choices. There is also a gluten-free fryer to allow gluten-sensitive guests to enjoy fries and nachos!
Deviled Eggs & Toast – $12: Creamy egg salad, toasted almond romesco sauce, dill, Manchego crisp, and toast. (Modifications: No toast and romesco sauce on the side.)
Pete ordered the deviled eggs with modifications for his dietary restrictions. He thought they were a bit plain and ordinary, and screamed for salt. Tyler tried one and thought it tasted like an ordinary deviled egg with mustard and mayonnaise. This dish did not impress anyone at the table.
Crispy Piggy Wings – $17: Pork drumettes with chili-ginger glaze, toasted sesame seeds, cilantro and slaw.
Tyler and Pete concurred that this was a standout appetizer. Spicy, sweet and crispy; you cannot go wrong getting these. The pork is crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. These are a definite winner!
Lobster Nachos – $20: Warm lobster and house-made tortilla chips with black beans, pico de gallo, chipotle crema, aged cheddar and Oaxaca cheese sauce. (Modifications for gluten allergy: No Oaxaca cheese sauce.)
This is my all time favorite appetizer and everyone at the table agreed! I loved eating them at Cove Bar and I am glad they are back on the menu. The portion size definitely received an upgrade, especially for the price. Gooey melted cheese with tender lobster and spicy crema is a perfect combo.
Cheddar Burger – $22: Grilled custom burger blend with Tillamook cheddar, roasted plum tomato, red onion, avocado ranch spread, and toasted Amish bun. Served with a side of malted fries. (Modifications: No bun, veggie sticks instead of fries, avocado ranch spread on the side.)
First off, the burger patty came out cold and the cheese was not even melted. Instead of veggie sticks, Pete received a side of fruit which he could not eat due to his Keto diet. The patty was not to his liking and lacked seasoning. I tried the patty and was not impressed. We could not get over the fact that the burger was cold. I could only assume this would have been a stand out dish if it was served hot. It was cooked to medium temperature inside, with a slight pink middle, and the tender texture of the meat was great with that slight char taste.
Grilled Chicken Salad – $21: Grilled romaine, marinated tomato and cucumbers, feta, piquillo pepper hummus, olive tapenade, and green dressing. (Modifications: Dressing on the side.)
Tyler decided to try the salad to see what I was raving about when we tried this at the media preview. The plate is a deconstructed salad and playfully presented. The chicken was moist and had a great seasoning, and the olive tapenade was not overpowering like he thought it would be. The grilled romaine was crisp and fresh with a slight char taste that went well with the piquillo pepper hummus. This dish was a winner in his book.
Ratatouille – $19: Roasted eggplant and bell peppers ragoût with zucchini noodles, warm burrata cheese, smoked tomato sauce, and basil aïoli. (Modifications: Gluten allergy.)
To be honest, I was not expecting much from this dish — but I loved it! I wish the menu said there were mushrooms, because I dislike them and would have asked for it without. I spent most of my time picking out the mushrooms but when all was said and done, I devoured it! The zucchini noodles were thin silky ribbons that I was able to twirl like pasta and the burrata cheese on the bottom was a small creamy surprise. When eating this dish one really must take a bite with everything to enjoy the full flavor. The basil aïoli was my favorite and added a fresh herb taste. The eggplant and bell peppers were tender and seasoned well and had a slight taste of the smoked tomato sauce. I thought the sauce was going to be overpowering, but it felt like the dish was lightly kissed with the smokey flavor.
PB&J Roll – $8: Creamy peanut butter and whole wheat “roll” with strawberry jelly served with a flower pot of veggies with hummus, and fresh fruit.
We decided to try a dish from the Budding Artists section to see what kids can try and we were really amazed at how great it was. Tyler is not a PB&J fan, and he said that the peanut butter to bread ratio was great and the strawberry jam drizzle was that perfect combo of sweet and savory. The flower pot of hummus and veggies are a great way to entertain kids! The hummus is smooth and the veggies were crisp. The fruit selection was great too. It is not that normal Disney side of fruit with melons and grapes; it was fresh sliced pineapple, watermelon, and strawberries.
Donuts – $9: Warm fluffy donuts with dipping sauces.
Sadly, this is the only dessert option right now. But don’t worry, they are great! These warm fluffy pillows of fried dough with a delicate coating of sugar will satisfy your sweet tooth. The donuts are served in a Lamplight Lounge box, so if you cannot finish it, you can take them to go. The two sauces are the perfect pair to go with the donuts. The first one is a raspberry dipping sauce with a special surprise that will tingle your senses and bring out the kid in you. What is the surprise? Poprocks! Pete’s face said it all — it was amazing! You could see pure joy when he tried this sauce, since he is a big Poprocks fan. The second sauce is a chocolate hazelnut sauce that reminds Tyler of a dipping version of hot chocolate made with dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. The hazelnut taste is not really pronounced, but the rich dark chocolate flavor really makes the donut enjoyable without adding more sweetness, since it already has sugar around it.
I hate to say this, but all three of us agreed that the service was terrible. It took about 10 minutes after sitting down at the table for the server to come up and introduce himself and to take our drink order. Once we got our drinks we asked for straws and we never received them; we had to flag him down to remind him. He seemed knowledgeable about the menu and able to help Pete with his dietary restrictions, since he is on Keto. We received our appetizers timely, but as soon as we started eating them our entrees came out. We had them sent back and asked the kitchen to remake the dishes fresh and have them come out when we were done with our appetizers. Our server was nowhere to be found most of the time so we had to ask runners for more water and refills on soda. We received our entrees 45 minutes after our appetizers, which is absolutely appalling. The manager did apologize for the problems, which helped somewhat, but after being there for two hours it was hard to let such bad service from the server and the kitchen go.
In my mind I am trying to let this experience slide because they were only open officially for 3 days at the time we ate there. The kinks still need to be straightened out. The kitchen was not ready and they need a lot more training. The service was lackluster and felt like some servers didn’t want to be there. We all loved the theming of the inside and all the cool art work and memorabilia that can be found throughout the restaurant. The majority of the food was fantastic and we definitely recommend trying it. At this moment, I would say to hold off on coming for a few weeks until the restaurant gets their footing. Tyler and I will be back to try more food from Lamplight Lounge and see if the service and kitchen have changed in the upcoming weeks.