June 7 was a rather full day at the Disneyland Resort. The DisneyExaminer Staff had much to do. Much eating to do, that is!
We were quite full as well after the grand opening of the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in Disney California Adventure Park, plus our EXCLUSIVE tasting of the new and classic menu items from the newly renovated and expanded La Brea Bakery in the Downtown Disney District!
Although we ate much, we did it for you and even saved you some that is conveniently located in our full Wrap-up report and newest DisneyExaminer Feature Story happily titled the “DE FoodFest!”
Have an empty stomach? Then let’s get eating at this report starting with Ghirardelli.
We arrived in the Esplanade promptly at 9:30 AM for the 10 AM start of the grand opening ceremony.
After a small wait, we were then escorted into Disney California Adventure Park. Although chocolate was on our mind, we couldn’t help but stop thinking about Buena Vista Street and eventually Cars Land after seeing all the Cast Members and their friends and family enter those places through temporary doors put in the construction walls. It’s ok…less than a week before it is our turn!
As we entered the Pacific Wharf area and into direct sunlight in front of the stage, we felt like Ghirardelli chocolate squares about to melt, but it was all worth it…because they gave us free chocolate.
The ceremony itself was pretty intimate…not more than 5 outlets were invited to the event and a lot of the Ghirardelli and Lindt (which is the parent company of Ghirardelli) executives and their families were on hand to celebrate the first Ghirardelli flagship soda fountain and shop opened inside a theme park!
The chocolate-y set up for the grand opening ceremony.
Executives from Ghirardelli and its parent company Lindt were on hand for their ice cream sundaes!
We captured the whole ceremony on video that included speeches by Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis, Disney California Adventure Vice President Mary Niven, and President and CEO of Lindt International Ernst Tanner. Take a look below.
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First it was group photo time!
First, Team Disney
Then Team Disney + Team Ghirardelli & Lindt
Then it was inside to enjoy an ice cream social with all the guests and other media. Free sundae’s anyone?
The interior is big and has a lot of detail, specifically found in the animated mural located behind the food building stations. The first time I walked into this place, it was weird to see that this used to be the Mission Tortilla Factory.
Disney really knows how to transform a space…take a look at Cars Land out Ghirardelli’s windows. It used to be a parking lot!
Chocolatey goodness being handmade!
It’s all available for sale, too!
We were then treated to a special chocolate presentation given by “chocolate professor” Steve Genzoli who is Vice President of Quality Assurance and Research and Development for Ghirardelli!
Simply put, he is the guy who knows how Ghirardelli chocolate is made and expands the brand through different varieties and flavors the Ghirardelli continually puts out.
More simply put, he loves chocolate and he explained to us the Ghiradelli chocolate making process and how Ghiradelli’s chocolate is in a league of its own when it comes to the quality of chocolate and ingredients used to prepare it.
Here are the ingredients to make some Ghirardelli Chocolate. It starts with the cocoa bean from the cocoa plant, then on to refining, then bam!
Our chocolate fantasy was about to come to a close with the end of the event, but Ghirardelli and Disney had a little parting gift to leave us with…
More Chocolate! SWEET! (see what we did there?)
And that was the end of the event. It was not “bittersweet” at all, but left a lasting taste in our mouths wanting more.
A very special thanks to Disneyland and Ghirardelli for putting on a great celebration. We enjoyed celebrating with you all and send our best wishes for a scrumptous year in Disney California Adventure Park!
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DisneyExaminer loves Ghirardelli chocolate and it was only fitting that a chocolate company that that has been making chocolate in California for 160 years makes its way into Disney California Adventure Park.
We loved what they did with the facility and although small, we feel that the real treat lies not in the facility of course, but the items that the facility and staff serve up.
We recommend getting a Quake Shake or Ghirardelli Signature Hot Fudge Sundae. We also recommend sharing either with a partner as they do give you a lot for your money. Don’t forget to use your Annual Passholder discount if you’re an Annual Passholder!
There are a lot more sweet treats that this place serves up too!
It was time to work off some of that chocolate by walking all the way back to Downtown Disney to the La Brea Bakery Cafe for another round of food that, simply put, baked its taste into our mouths and hearts.
This has to be the newest and best place we’ve eaten at in Downtown Disney. That’s a statement, and we know! But you would never guess why until you finish reading this report…
We began our day at La Brea Bakery Cafe before the Ghirardelli event and after the Ghirardelli event. As we approached the new facilities, we were happily surprised.
Major difference, don’t you think! It really does look like a bakery.
A bakery bakes bread. La Brea Bakery wants to let you know that with their creations front and center.
If you’ve been to location before, you know that they have two kinds of service at either end of the facility. Facing the front of the restaurant, the left side was for express service accompanied by a patio for seating, and the right side was a full service restaurant.
That same configuration of service remains even with the new facilities. Each one serves a great menu with different offerings; Yummy, tasty, offerings that only La Brea can bake up (another pun, yes). Before we get to the food, lets enter through the front door first!
And you’ll now be greeted by this.
This is the new open air building and baking area. If there was one thing we got from our visit and talk with the staff at La Brea Bakery, we got that they love food. They love food so much they want you to know not only by tasting with your mouth, but also with your eyes.
Just like how the bread is displayed proudly in front, you’re greeted with that story of fine breads with this whole building and baking area that brings to mind the essence of a true bakery – one that bakes authenticity and quality, neither of which is a question in this place.
One of their fine bread creations.
After entering, we were greeted by the very friendly staff at their Downtown Disney location. After talking to them a little more throughout the day, we understood something that was consistent with their food. Their staff is just great!
Smiles all around from the hosting staff!
Their culinary staff was just as friendly offering us some new items on their new menu. Some hearty, good food before some savory chocolate? Why not.
Chef Alejandro Reyna prepared us some tasty flatbread (pizzas) which are all handmade – from dough to topping. The new addition to the facility is a new brick fire oven as seen in the background. It is used to make these flatbreads that only take about 3 minutes to cook!
The finished product! This particular flatbread was their awesome tasting Sunnyside Up breakfast flatbread ($12.95). What a great way to start your day at Disneyland!
We’ll be featuring the rest of the new facilities in a cool video that we’ll be posting up soon on our YouTube page, so stay tuned for that because without a new facility, their wouldn’t be a new delicious menu.
At the time we were enjoying some of this delicious flatbread, it was time to leave La Brea Bakery to attend the Ghirardelli event, but we would soon return to enjoy a full tasting of the various new and classic items on the La Brea Bakery menu!
It took us about 3 hours to return to La Brea Bakery. Fortunately for you all, we’ll speed things up and show you what we had for lunch right now!
We were seated in their improved full service section located to the right of the main entrance. Although it is still an outdoor area, the new permanent awning complete with hanging heaters make you feel like you’re secluded from the busyness outside. The whole 3 hours we were seated, we didn’t once think that over the short hedge at the end of our table led to the crazy foot traffic of Downtown Disney.
We had the opportunity to enjoy our tasting with Les Echeverria, Senior Manager of Licensed Operations for La Brea Bakery and its other companies.
Immediately after meeting Les at the beginning of our day, we knew that working with him would not just be professional, but personal. Just like the rest of the La Brea Bakery Staff on premises, Les has the drive and passion for food and great service. You could feel it through every handshake and conversation. This was going to be a greater meal with him at the table for sure.
The following pictures you’ll see are the things that we wanted to try in particular during our tasting. To be honest with you, each menu item we had screamed quality and for the price, you’ll know that your money had been well spent.
The items we had and can all vouch for are below in the gallery –
As of this writing, the menu is going through an overhaul already! It has only been a couple of weeks since its grand re-opening, but they are already making changes due to customer feedback, which is a great sign from a great customer-oriented establishment.
We’ll post La Brea Bakery’s new full menu here once we receive it.
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To be honest with you, as regular visitors to the Disneyland Resort, most of us as part of the DE Staff have never really taken the time to notice the fine food establishments in Downtown Disney like the La Brea Bakery Cafe.
Every time we’d get dropped off to the tram from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure, we always saw the bakery and always decided to pass it by for whatever reason – price, time, riding attractions, etc. After our particular visit, we were left asking why.
As regular visitors, we rarely visit any Resort property restaurants because of price or the closeness we are to our homes that have “free” food. With the exception of special occassions and such, we rarely stop by, but that all changed after our visit to La Brea Bakery.
While having our tasting and asking Les questions, one thing always seemed to jump out at me – the story of La Brea Bakery.
Les described to us the road to La Brea Bakery’s success. It all began with one woman named Nancy Silverton, who had a love for great bread. Little did she know that that bread would only be the beginning. From bakery to restaurant chains, Nancy’s idea for great food enticed great people to come work alongside her.
There came people like Fransisco Robles, who is La Brea Bakery’s technical manager in charge of creating new and passing down bread ideas that he and Nancy started at La Brea Bakery’s conception.
There comes people like Marisa Medina, Downtown Disney’s very friendly La Brea Bakery Cafe hostess who knows that not only are employees their own customers, but that the customers that walk through their doors are here not only for great food, but great service as well.
From the food, service, and facility…
Let’s face it. There was and is a reason why La Brea Bakery Cafe is located in such a prime location in Downtown Disney. As you get off the tram, you’re greeted by her. Before you leave and return to your car, she sees you out.
Next time you’re at the Disneyland Resort, why don’t you stop on in before and after you leave your day at the Parks or maybe in between. Start with a breakfast flatbread to get you ready for the long lines, a tasty spicy chicken sandwich for lunch to power through more lines, and finally a hand made cinnamon bun with a nice cup of coffee before you get in your car and have “a happy and safe trip home.”
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