After our terrifying mine ride, Mom asked if we could take a break so she could check her phone. Numerous “Happy Birthday” texts and voicemails had been accumulating throughout the day.
“Let’s go to the Tangled rest area,” I suggested.
“The what?” asked JB.
“The Tangled toilets,” I replied.
JB looked perplexed. “Do I have to untangle it to go?”
We used the facilities and then found a nearby place to sit. Mom checked her messages and JB made a phone call. I took the opportunity to excuse myself for a few minutes.
I had to meet a friend. Again.
He was traveling solo this time. And he was right around the corner.
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@Tony the Tigger and I were able to have a longer chat today. My touring buddies didn’t even miss me.
California Grill hit a homerun for your Mom! Very Happy for her, and you and JB!Nicole brought us the sourdough bread with sun dried tomato dip. Knowing this dip was coming, I requested butter in advance, which she also brought.
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The sourdough is fine.....but.....
wait for it.....you know it’s coming.....
I have to vent.....PLEASE BRING BACK LAVENDER FOCACCIA!
(There. I feel better now.)
Nicole also had our drinks. Though Mom is not a teetotaler, she rarely imbibes. I thought she might have a glass of Reisling tonight to celebrate, but she only wanted water. JB selected one of the featured red wines. For myself, instead of wine, I ordered a Tropical Lifesaver. This sweet drink was recommended to me last year by a bar server at CG, who said it was her favorite and unique to CG. I found it quite tasty and ordered it again on a subsequent visit to CG.
Nicole was unfamiliar with a Tropical Lifesaver and I couldn’t tell her what was in it (no idea!) but said the bartender should know.
What she put in front of me looked like a Tropical Lifesaver.....
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....but did not taste like a Tropical Lifesaver. All I could taste was bourbon which was definitely not in my previous drinks. Not wanting to make a fuss, I slowly sipped at it throughout the course of dinner.
Happily Ever After began. Enjoy these two crappy pictures.
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JB declared HEA “Spectacular!”
I didn’t argue.
Mom was thrilled as well.
When Nicole returned, JB asked her what the best appetizer was. She immediately recommended the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli. JB ordered one for himself and one for Mom and I to share.
ONE being the operative word....
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$16 for ONE ravioli. It was good, but not $16 good. I think the flatbreads are a better value.
But both JB and Mom raved about the ravioli so I kept my mouth shut.
My entreé was a no-brainer. Oak-grilled filet all the way! I did not expect JB and Mom to also order the filet. Family ties run deep! Oh well, it meant I only had to take one entreé picture.
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(Note how full my drink glass still is!)
Wait....what’s under that luscious filet?
Could it be?
YES IT IS.....risotto!
I have pined for CG risotto ever since it was removed from the menu. Tomato, black truffle, cheese....all flavors that had kept me wanting more. This was “Parmesan-Farro Risotto”. I was unfamiliar with Farro but Parmesan is cheese, so it had to be delish, right?
It was.....okay. Turns out farro is a grain (like rice) that is very high in fiber with a nutty taste, with undertones of oat and barley (thank you, Google). As such, it did not have the smooth creaminess usually associated with risotto. Mixed with the butternut squash purée it was palatable (rather than delectable.)
Our filets were outstanding. Mom and JB said it was the best filet they’d ever tasted.
Nicole came to clear our plates. She asked if we’d like to see a dessert menu and without hesitation JB answered, “Absolutely!” Over the course of our meal Nicole learned it was Mom’s birthday and said Mom would receive the complimentary birthday dessert in addition to any dessert Mom might order off the menu. I was secretly hoping Mom would order something off the menu so that I could eat the amazing Boston Cream Cupcake, which has been the complimentary celebratory dessert for ages.
“Oh I don’t need to order anything from the menu,” Mom told Nicole.
But Mom still looked over the dessert menu with me.
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Warm chocolate lava cake? Good. I’m sold!
Until Mom said, “Tuvalu, you need to order the s’mores. It comes with toasted marshmallow ice cream!”
“I’ll have the warm chocolate cake,” JB said to Nicole. (Of course he will!)
I ordered the s’mores, hoping Mom would want to share and then I could have some of her cupcake.
Only she didn’t get a cupcake.
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“Confetti Cake is our new birthday dessert!” Nicole announced before singing Happy Birthday to Mom. Mom devoured the cake. She let me have a bite. It did not compare to the Boston Cream cupcake.
Meanwhile I gazed lustfully at JB’s warm chocolate lava cake.
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Here is the s’mores I “had” to have.
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Notice anything missing? Those dark brown pieces ARE NOT chocolate. They are “house-made graham crackers.” Or as I would call them “house-made no-graham-flavor crackers.”
BUT WHERE IS THE CHOCOLATE?!!? I’m sorry, but chocolate is a crucial ingredient in s’mores.
Oh I know where the chocolate is.....it’s on JB’s plate.
And for the record, “toasted marshmallow ice cream” is not as good as it sounds.
However, California Grill was a HUGE hit for Mom and JB, so I can overlook my little disappointments. Nicole was an excellent server, the food was good and view to-die-for. JB and Mom said they would definitely go back to CG.
You know I will.
We browsed BVG (Bay View Gifts) before boarding the monorail back to GF. Once in our room, Mom said she’d had the BEST birthday.
I couldn’t have been happier.
Preach it, sister! I couldn’t agree more.I would so agree with you about being disappointed with the risotto - I have been known to get a bit peeved when a chef tries to get “creative” with risotto and make it with something other than ... risotto . If it’s not made with rice, then call it something else!
I learned something new! Thanks @bee!I was also surprised when I ordered the "ravioli" and got a "raviolo" because "ravioli" is plural! Your photos are making me excited for my next CG visit!
I went back and reread your TR. It did look like you had chocolate on your s’mores....maybe there was a “tweaking” between your dessert and mine? And I had forgotten about your less-than-stellar experience, so I was sad for you all over again!What a fantastic birthday for your mom!! I'm glad you had an overall better California Grill experience than we did! I know we had chocolate sauce on our s'more dessert, not sure what happened to yours! And that cake was good, but I never had the cupcake to compare it to! I'm jealous of your fireworks view!
Thanks @fractalCalifornia Grill hit a homerun for your Mom! Very Happy for her, and you and JB!
Ummmmm, actually, risotto is the method of preparation. Yes, traditionally arborio rice is used but you can use almost anything. I use to make a potato risotto that caused grown men to cry. Truth!I would so agree with you about being disappointed with the risotto - I have been known to get a bit peeved when a chef tries to get “creative” with risotto and make it with something other than ... risotto . If it’s not made with rice, then call it something else!
We can agree to disagree While there are recipes to make a “risotto” from other ingredients, “Riso” is rice.Ummmmm, actually, risotto is the method of preparation. Yes, traditionally arborio rice is used but you can use almost anything. I use to make a potato risotto that caused grown men to cry. Truth!
We are simpatico then! I will soon be able to compare Jiko with CG when I dine there for the first time next trip.You DID have a perfect view of HEA from that table. I know that because we sat at the table behind JB the last time we visited for dinner in July!! I was disappointed with my shrimp appetizer and it kind of threw off my whole experience. My family even mentioned that I didn't "seem like myself". It's ridiculous to let something be such a disappointment when it's just food, but I know exactly how you feel!
My brother and I disagree, but I'm favoring JIKO these days while he is still sold on CALIFORNIA GRILL.
Most importantly Mom had a great time! Hooray!