Dining at Disney's Club 33: The Good, The Bad and The Shopping

Categories: Dishney
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Anne Marie Panoringan
Bet we can get $55 for him.

There is a special population obsessed enamored with all things Disney, and a completely unrelated group that wants to be a part of all things exclusive. Rarely do these two collide, except when discussing a certain door adjacent to the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square, its only marker being their address, the buzzer behind a discreet panel your only way in. Happiest place on Earth? Try toughest reservation.

You know the drill: Club 33. Only place in Disneyland proper that serves alcohol. Even if they had the space for you, it first requires a membership (which we didn't have), or a Six-Degrees-of-Someone-Who-Does to enter (we did). Inquiring about their wait list isn't even an option anymore, as there are more than enough deep pockets ready to jump at a spot in Club 33's limited membership to last years.

A certain allure is associated with this place. That bourgeois air carries guests throughout the night, explaining why you might see inexplicably high-heeled or well-suited tourists wandering Main Street. If you think this is for old stogies, guess again. The young lady awaiting her coat just got engaged, a gaggle of 20-something girls in their curvy outfits all struck a pose next to the tree, and our celebratory party of four opted to hitch a ride up the old-fashioned lift. There's no mistaking it: this is a self-contained ode to Dickensian sophistication.

Once seated, we come to the realization of something bad: it's an $80 minimum to eat here. Not that we were expecting to spend a lot less; we've been fortunate enough to know people (who know people), and most of our forays have been a very pricey, yet unlimited Sunday brunch. Being our second visit for dinner, maybe we forgot all about this prerequisite? Either way, it was like elementary school book reports--when you're forced to do something, it's never as much fun. Granted, the good in all this was our one-day, park-hopper pass included with our reservation (on a day that was otherwise a blackout for us). So we all sucked it up and scanned the selections, fifth-grade addition mentally kicking in. Coincidentally, their multi-course Vintner menu was strategically priced $10 above their great expectations, so our table goes with that.

They decide to amuse us with a golden morsel of savory goodness enveloped in phyllo dough. Included was a carefully scripted spiel of exactly why our server was starting us with a single bite, which I guess to first-timers is good. When I inquire about the individual components, a different server visits, describing our combination of goat cheese, apricot and Maui onion......with an identical spiel of the history behind amuse bouches. Ok, we GET it. I quietly hope the rest of our meal isn't narrated with such brainwashing precision (Hey, I worked the Disneyland College Program. I know the drill.).

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Anne Marie Panoringan
I might've liked it more with a nice Chianti.

Course one is a fontina fondue soup. Thick for a spoon, but weird for a fork. We dig in, and it's super cheesy, figuratively and literally, with fava beans, roasted fingerlings, and cauliflower. It was neither good nor bad; something Liz Lemon would whip up on Valentine's Day. I had the urge to dip some walnut bread and try scooping it up, but resisted.

Next on the agenda was contessa shrimp cake.


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