Sunday, October 08, 2006

Club 33, Disneyland (Anaheim, CA)

Attn: Club 33
1313 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 90803
714.781.4033 (unofficial)
Sun 10/08/2006, 11:10a-1:00p

I had the rare opportunity to dine at Club 33 after I participated with the Boeing team in the CHOC Walk at Disneyland. Boeing has a corporate membership to the Club and we were able to secure a few spots for lunch.

Club 33 was built by Walt in order to have a place within Disneyland where he could entertain visiting dignitaries. The Club was completed in May 1967; however Walt was never able to see the fruits of his vision, and he had passed away five months earlier. Today, Club 33 operates as an exclusive private club with a very limited membership (several hundred persons). Membership is available to both individuals and corporations, at a cost of several thousand dollars a year. Even so, there is still a multi-year waiting list to become a member.

Here is the entrance to the Club, which is located right next to the Blue Bayou restaurant at 33 Royal Street in New Orleans Square.

I went up the French lift, which is a copy of an original lift that Walt saw in New Orleans. He tried to buy it, but when the owners wouldn't sell, he made his own replica for the Club. The second photo is where the lift takes you on the second floor.

The hallway connecting the Trophy Room (where we were seated) with the Main Dining Room. On the left part of the picture, you can see a case of Club 33 memorabilia for sale. I ended up purchasing a shot glass for $18. Pricey I know, but it is the heaviest shot glass I've ever held.

Our table in the Trophy Room. The Trophy Room was named such since it originally had various animal busts and other hunter's prizes mounted on the walls.

Our tuxedoed waiter taking orders for our entrées. I had the Pan Seared Petit Châtaeubriand, medium-rare of course.

The Club 33 bar. Since it was Sunday, there was complementary champagne with lunch.

The appetizer buffet line, replete with custom-made fine china.

The first station consisted of various salads; this was followed by cured meats with olives, grilled veggies, and what I believe is pâté.

Then we had a choice of various cheeses, fresh fruit, and smoked salmon with capers, onions, and crème fraîche. Finally there were crab claws, cocktail shrimp, and lobster tails on ice.

Chocolate-raspberry cake, cheesecake, brownies, fresh berries, and various glasses filled with mousse.

Made a pitshop before chowing down.

What my plate ended up looking like. My favorite items were the salmon and the shrimp.


Various Disney characters are known to make guest appearances at the Club. One of my dining companions made the unfortunate mistake of calling Pluto Goofy; Pluto was not pleased.

The Contessa Shrimp Scampi and my Pan Seared Petit Châteaubriand. The filet was cooked closer to medium than medium-rare, but was excellent nonetheless. I found the steak to the tender, juicy, and very flavorful; it was a favorite among many members of my party.

My dessert. Of the three cups, I enjoyed the middle on the most; it was a chocolate-raspberry mousse. The one on the left had a very strong lemon flavor, which put me off a bit. The one on the right was very fruity. I also had the chocolate-raspberry cake, the cheesecake, the brownie, and the macaroon.

I definitely enjoyed my time at Club 33. Although the food was quite good, it's the atmosphere that really sets the place apart. There is something nice about being able to dine at a place that very few people will ever get to experience. And that's really what it comes down to: the experience; it's the rare combination of food, exclusivity, and Disney charm that makes Club 33 a winner. I'm definitely looking forward to coming back next year.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Frenchy's Bistro (Long Beach, CA)

Frenchy's Bistro
4137 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90804
Fri 10/06/2006, 08:40p-10:00p

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Frenchy's is a quaint French bistro-style restaurant unfortunately located in a not-so-great area of Long Beach. The exterior is quite nondescript, and you probably wouldn't stop if you were just passing by. But fortunately I wasn't just passing by, as I had a recommendation from a coworker of mine. The restaurant's Zagat food rating of 27 further convinced me. Frenchy's serves a nice collection of traditional French fare: foie gras terrine, pork tenderloin, rack of lamb, filet mignon, crispy duck, and the like.

We originally had reservations for 8:00, but due to some unforeseen circumstances on our part, we couldn't start until 8:40. The restaurant was very accommodating to our situation and this attitude pervaded the entire evening. I was quite pleased with the service, which I found genial and expedient.

Frenchy's consists of a smaller dining room where we were seated (pictured), a larger dining room to the left with about 15 tables, and a large salon to the right (used for private events). The overall ambiance is warm and inviting.

We had a nice bottle of Bordeaux with the meal, a 2002 Château Coutet Grand Cru, from Saint-Emillion. I found the wine quite approachable and easy drinking, though my dining companion felt that the tannins were a bit strong.

Old-Fashioned Escargots in Garlic Butter on a Cast Iron Plate "Staub"
Whenever there is escargot on the menu, I have a hard time not ordering it; and this occasion was no exception. The snails were tender, but firm enough to have a pleasant, slightly chewy texture. The garlic here was not as strong as I'm used to however.

Salmon Gravlaks, Potato Crepe & Sevruga Caviar, Dill/Mustard Sauce
Similarly, we have a hard time not ordering gravad lax or smoked salmon when it's on the menu. This preparation was actually unlike any other I've had before. I felt there was a bit too much going on with this dish and would've preferred it if the flavors of the dill/mustard were a bit stronger. The caviar on top was quite good.

Hanger Steak "Onglet" Traditional Shallot Sauce
Hanger steak is a piece of meat from the underside of the cow; it hangs between the rib and the loin, hence the name. I have been told that hanger steak can be rather tough if not prepared correctly; fortunately that was not the case here. I ordered the meat medium-rare and the steak came in pre-cut slices, which was a bit of a surprise. That was not a problem, as the steak proved to be quite tender (though obviously not as tender as the filets I normally get), and full of flavor. The pommes frites and vegetables were well-suited complements.

Dungeness Crab Cake on Wilted Spinach, Tomato/Brandy Sauce
Unfortunately I didn't get to try much of this dish, through from the little I did have it seemed to have a good amount of crab and little filler, which is generally a good sign.

My dessert was the chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, and chocolate "brownie." My favorite portion was the mousse. I very much appreciated the fact that the sweetness of the dessert did not overpower the sweetness of the Muscat I had with it.

We also had the crème brûlée with raspberries, which was quite tasty, with a rich custard base and nicely caramelized top. We paired this with a Sauternes.

Executive Chef André Angles and his wife Valerie, who serves as hostess. They were very gracious during our stay, chatting with us after the meal and giving us a tour of the salon area.

Chef Angles also provided two signed copies of the menu, a nice touch!

Overall I'm quite happy with Frenchy's Bistro. The restaurant serves up solid, tasty, hearty traditional French fare in a comfortable setting, at reasonable prices. As Frenchy's is located relatively close to work, it is now a viable lunch option and I look forward to dining there again soon.