After cruising the jungle, Danny and I broke off from the group again. We were all meeting local relatives for dinner at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen that night and wanted to change before we headed to the restaurant. We’d stowed a backpack with fresh clothes in a locker on Main Street, so we grabbed that and left the park. Our next destination was the Disneyland Hotel.
All hotels have public restrooms near lobbies or other common areas. Often they’re really nice, very clean, and fairly private as hotel guests will elect to use the facilities in their rooms instead. If you’re visiting a hotel but not staying there as a guest, such restrooms are a good place to freshen up before a meal. The restrooms adjacent to Steakhouse 55 and its lounge are an excellent example. We changed clothes for dinner and decided to stay at the lounge for a couple drinks. As it was still before dinnertime, we had the place mostly to ourselves. The bartender even obliged Danny and changed the channel on the bar’s television so we could catch a bit of the Mets game.
We didn’t photograph the drinks we had there because the it was all standardized Disney lounge menu stuff. Our friend Sarah at Eating WDW wrote a detailed post about what was on this menu this summer. I have a lot to say about this menu and none of it is very charitable. I think it’s a shame that the lounges at various Disney properties got away from having their own specialty drinks in favor of a homogenized bar menu with little variation anywhere. It’s been a sad state of affairs for a few years from now. Fortunately, some establishments are starting to get away from that a little bit by offering special food items and a few signature drinks. Others, like Trader Sam’s and the Uva Bar, have fully established their own unique identities and can only serve as inspiration to the rest. We don’t want the same identical menu in every lounge any more than we want the same food options in every restaurant!
The other good news about Disney lounges — and I’m not fully convinced that many understand this — is that you’re not limited to the drinks shown on the pages of that dreary little bar book. Almost all Disney lounges have a full bar and can make you just about anything that your heart desires. Whether your drink of choice is a rye Manhattan, a pomegranate martini, or a Golden Cadillac, any good barkeep in any Disney lounge can make it for you. You may be missing out on some totally cool new libation that a more cutting edge establishment would offer, but they can do all the classics, and do them well.
When we’d had our fill of the lounge at the Disneyland hotel, we slowly made our way back through Downtown Disney, taking our time to peek in to shops and view restaurant menus. We noted that the Uva Bar, an outdoor bar run by the Patina Group and associated with the Catal restaurant, was under refurbishment and would be reopening to the public on in two days. That was great news to us! When we saw the construction scrims, we were afraid that we were going to miss one of our favorite Anaheim spots on this visit, but we’d have the chance to go there on the eve of its reopening. The Uva Bar has great eats and drinks, and being right in the middle of Downtown Disney, it’s about the best place to see and be seen in the entirety of the Disneyland resort.
The Avengers had just premiered in theaters shortly before our vacation, and D Street was taking full advantage of that fact. We enjoyed some of Tokidoki’s takes on Marvel characters, as seen in the t-shirts below:
Finally, it was time to meet our family for dinner at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. We were a party of 12 that night and it was a fun, lively, chaotic dinner. Again, we don’t have any food pics to share, but nearly everybody at the table enjoyed their meal. Several ordered from the three course menu. I had the pasta jambalaya and Danny had the andouille crusted snapper. Both were good enough that we feel the Jazz Kitchen merits a return visit on one of our future Disneyland vacations. My cousins Taylor and Carson, who are OC locals, swear by the beef tenderloin medallions. Taylor says that she dislikes all green beans except theirs. Getting college students to eat their veggies: way to go, Jazz Kitchen! The only person who wasn’t completely happy with her meal was my sister. She ordered Greg’s BBQ Bayou Ribs but couldn’t finish them because they were too spicy for her. That shouldn’t scare people away from them, though. She just really can’t handle heat in her food. She did fill up on the table’s shared appetizers and bites from other family members’ plates, though, and she, like the rest of us, had a good time that evening. For dessert, my family surprised me with a piece of Red Velvet Roulade with a birthday candle. Ignoring my objections, (“but my birthday is tomorrow!”), they sang “Happy Birthday” and proceeded to pass my dessert around the table, making sure they all got a taste. Now I understand why the need to embarrass me by exploiting my birthday: they wanted the opportunity to try another delicious Jazz Kitchen dessert.
After dinner, the rest of our family was pretty tired. They had intended to head back in to Disneyland and watch Fantasmic, but I’m not sure they actually made it. Danny and I were feeling the effects of our long day too, so we stopped by Napolini for cappuccini before continuing on. People must not order cappuccino very often at Napolini, because it took the employees quite a while to figure out how to work the machine. While they were fiddling, I took some pictures of the premade Patina Group desserts in the refrigerator section.
After we obtained our caffeine, we headed back toward Disneyland. We only stayed long enough to ride the Haunted Mansion and cover Fantasyland, however. We knew we had to head back to our hotel soon and prepare for another big day the next day.
In our next installment: my birthday, Disney’s California Adventure in the days leading up to the grand re-opening, and dinner at the Napa Rose Chef’s Table!