A Look Inside Disneyland’s “Mysterious” Club 33
December 12, 2015 – For the past few years, Tracy and I have been lucky enough to be invited by my longtime friends Craig and his wife Julie to partake in a Christmas feast at the “mysterious” Club 33 restaurant inside Disneyland. Yes, that’s the place where you can actually get a cocktail inside the park, although Club 33 is so much more than that.
Our first trip to Club 33 was back in 2011, when we were joined by Melinda and the late-great Bob, our wonderful, long-time friend who passed away one day before we were planning to go in 2012. Needless to say, none of us were in the mood to share Christmas tidings that year (I’d known Bob since second grade and Craig since 4th grade…we all grew up on the same street).
On a subsequent visit in 2013 I ran into John Ratzenberger (Cliff on Cheers) at the bar as he awaited the arrival of his large group.
We talked about travel, and after telling him we had recently visited Stonehenge, he reminisced about the time he camped out there as a kid. He is a very nice guy, although he didn’t have any mail to give me.
Not everyone can get into Club 33. This is a five-star restaurant located near Pirates Of The Caribbean. You have to know a member or be a pirate. Luckily, we know members Craig and Julie (neither of whom are pirates). Since first dining here in 2011, Club 33 has undergone quite an overhaul. Club 33 was started by Walt Disney as a place where he could entertain visiting dignitaries. Unfortunately, he never got the chance. Club 33 opened six months after Walt died in June of 1967.
We met Craig and Julie, friends Jeff and Cecilia and new friends Vicky and Mike outside the gates of Disneyland (in the past we have gotten there early and gone on some rides first, but everyone was busy on this day). Last year we went on the Cars ride and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at California Adventure…
…then scooted over to Disneyland for a few rides (including the Matterhorn) and even a visit to the Enchanted Tiki Room.
This year Jeff and I posed for a photo to see how much more gray hair we have accumulated in the past year (I’ve known Jeff since our freshman year at the “Harvard Of The West”… San Diego State).
Inside the park, we took the train to “New Orleans” (cue Arlo Guthrie) and the entrance of Club 33…
…where you press the doorbell for admittance. Walking into the interior courtyard, we immediately saw the beautifully decorated Christmas tree.
Club 33 was remodeled in early 2014.
At this time of the year, we were met with glasses of hot chocolate seasoned with cinnamon and allspice. After cleaning our hands with warm towels and sipping our hot chocolate, up the stairs we went for pre-dinner cocktails. As we entered the restaurant and lounge area, Craig and Julie were met by Mickey & Minnie for photos.
It’s in a space previously occupied by a storage room. Carolers wandered the lounge taking requests, although they politely turned down my plea for Light My Fire.
Craig introduced us to his favorite cocktail at Disneyland, the Vieux Carre (gotta learn that recipe). There’s a gorgeous ceiling above the lounge area…
…with a player piano that serenades when the carolers take a rest. They really did quite a nice remodel job.
Now it was time for dinner. As we entered the dining room, Julie was greeted effusively by one of their regular waiters, Alistair.
There are two options for dinner at Club 33, the five course ($105) or the six course meal ($120). Although it sounds expensive, if we had gone earlier and enjoyed the park, it would be a great deal because Disneyland costs about that much to visit now, and the park can be included with the cost of dinner.
With the exception of the sautéed veal sweetbreads, the garden salad, and the citrus tart, our group ordered virtually everything on the menu…and everything was delicious!!
We settled in and gave Alistair our drink orders. Baskets of freshly baked brioche bread with herb butter were brought to the table while we perused the menu.
After ordering our respective meals, an amuse bouche was brought to the table to start our evening. Tonight it consisted of turkey mousse with whipped deviled egg. Very tasty.
The first course options were “Lobster Rockefeller” two crispy oysters with lemon hollandaise; cornbread crusted chanterelle mushrooms with fennel puree and chimichurri; three risotto fritters with sun-dried tomato jam and cauliflower “alfredo” sauce; or the prime beef tartare with poached quail egg and autumn mustard served with squaw bread toast. What selections! While all the choices were marvelous, Julie and I had the prime beef tartare and it was a “Wow” dish.
For the second course, our options were a soup of harvest acorn squash and apple broth with Andouille sausage and cranberry beans; a trio of beet carpaccio with black walnuts, smoky blue cheese and orange tarragon marmalade; the “Lafayette” garden salad with shaved radish, cucumbers and house vinaigrette; and a salad of smoked duck breast with Tuscan kale, persimmon and cranberry orange conserve.
Next up, course three consisting of your choice of a grilled diver scallop with corn flan, succotash, pedrón pepper and lobster chirozo; iron seared white fish with a French bean-root vegetable ragout in a light broth; poached lobster paella with saffron rice and roasted tomato broth; and the sautéed veal sweetbreads with sugar snap peas, wild mushrooms and salsa verde that we all passed on (since Julie did not see anything in this course that she wanted, she ordered the pumpkin beignets stuffed with pumpkin cheese cake and a pumpkin parfait in a small shot glass from the dessert menu as her third course option),
An intermezzo of Meyer lemon sorbet with a splash of San Germaine (elderflower liquor) was brought to cleanse our palates for the next course.
On to the main course, all of which were “Wow” dishes. There was a selection of Colorado rack of lamb with spring garlic and mushrooms in a Syrah sauce; pumpkin gnocchi with black truffles, roasted Autumn mushrooms and fennel velvet; Zinfandel braised Angus beef short rib with celery root puree and apple slaw; and a petit Angus filet mignon with Tasso ham scalloped potatoes and collard green pesto.
Craig and Cecilia opted for the six course meal by ordering the cheese course, which consisted of artisanal cheeses with chévre panna cotta, quince puree, and pistachio butter all served with toasted brioche bread.
Just when I thought we were going to explode, along came the dessert course: warm chocolate fudge pecan brownie with caramel sauce and coconut sorbet; citrus tart with passion fruit meringue and huckleberry syrup; pumpkin beignets stuffed with pumpkin cheese cake and a pumpkin parfait in a small shot glass (simply remarkable); and lastly, the all American apple pie with Fiscalini white cheddar ice cream.
Once again, our journey to Club 33 was wonderful. It’s cool to have friends who can get you those little perks in life that are so much fun, not to mention a dinner that was totally stupendous. Good friends…good meal…good times…Life is good!