*The DIS publishes reviews of meals that we pay for. We only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts. We receive no outside compensation for our dining experiences so that we may give our honest opinions about price and value.
As guests walk into Storytellers Cafe, located in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, they are instantly transported into California’s history and its story of diversity. Every detail, down to the lighting, tells a tale of the hard work and perseverance that was put into the state.
We came in around 5 pm on a Sunday without a reservation for five people and were quickly sat. Once sat, we had a chance to look at the A La Carte menu and take a peak at the buffet. I have a gluten allergy, so I was given an allergy-friendly menu (which you can find at most Disney restaurants). Underneath each item on the menu you will find a dietary-friendly list. There are quite a few gluten-friendly options under “Chapter One,” which is where guests will find appetizers. I was really curious to try the quesadilla and see what kind of tortilla they used, but I will save that for another time, along with the gluten free pizza. I decided to skip “Chapter One” and go straight to “Chapter Two” — the entrées — and try the Grilled 10 oz. New York Strip.
Everyone else at the table decided to do the buffet. There are so many options with a wide variety to choose from! Up first, the salad bar, which had multiple cold appetizers: from pasta salads to leafy greens, and every type of salad dressing one can imagine.
Tyler really wanted to try the famous Charred Nebraska Corn Chowder that he heard about. Unfortunately, the chowder was not in the buffet, but he asked our server if he could get a cup and our server obliged. The chowder is a creamy soup with rotisserie chicken garnished with bacon and cilantro on top. He loved it! He said it was the highlight of his meal!
As for the main courses, there was Lemon Caper Salmon as well as Meaty Marinara Pasta. The salmon was cooked perfectly and was not dry, according to the others at the table, and the pasta was the table’s favorite. It had the perfect meat-to-sauce ratio and was cooked just right.
When getting to the meat carving station, I was really surprised to see slow roasted pork belly, since I have never really seen that offered at a buffet before. The New York Roast Beef was cooked a perfect medium and was tender and juicy; off to the side there was creamy horseradish to accompany it. To finish up the carving station there was roasted turkey. The biggest miss for the turkey was that there was no gravy available.
Next to the carving station was macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and pizza slices. They were by far the most popular items on the entire buffet and the kitchen staff worked tirelessly to keep it stocked.
My food arrived a little after everyone ate. (This was expected since everyone else ate from the buffet.) My plate came out with the allergy stick to reassure me that it was prepared properly. I appreciate that the restaurant takes special care; it gives me peace of mind. The steak was accompanied with 3 sauces: chipotle BBQ, chimichurri, and creamy horseradish. The chipotle BBQ had a heavy ketchup flavor with a little heat but not very strong. The chimichurri was too oily for my taste and very onion heavy. Lastly, I tried the creamy horseradish and found that it was so strong that it completely overwhelmed the steak. The steak was cooked to perfection at a nice warm medium, and even though it wasn’t the best cut of meat, it had great flavor.
Now onto the final chapter: dessert! Small tarts and cakes were the main focus of the dessert section, with tiny takes on pecan and banana cream pies. Off to the side of the buffet line there was a big batch of warm bread pudding waiting for people to dig in! There was also an ice cream sundae bar on the opposite side of the buffet. It was a little strange that the ice cream was separated from the rest of the desserts, but it was not a big deal. The review from around the table was that the desserts were not the best, and some even seemed a little stale. The strawberry ice cream was the stand-out dessert.
Overall, dinner was great! The atmosphere is relaxing, the food plentiful, and the service was outstanding. One little touch I love is how you are able to see inside the kitchen behind the buffet line and see the pizza being made in the stone oven. To me, that screams California dining! I love how they have nothing to hide.
The buffet was $35 per person and included soft drinks, coffee, and tea. If you want a buffet without the character dining then this is the place for you! My entree came in at $32 and did not include any type of beverage. The buffet clearly offers more bang for your buck, but with my gluten allergy, I wanted to play it safe.
Note: Character Dining takes place only during breakfast.