Carnation Cafe is a vital part of Disneyland. This small restaurant has been operating since the parks opening day, and its presence on Main Street USA is as important as any attraction. It's classic red and white motif is as charming as the carnations found on each bistro style table. Although a recent renovation has added indoor seating, the main draw here is al fresco seating along Main Street.
The staff at Carnation Cafe are super friendly, and have a sincere love for and knowledge of Disneyland. The hostess who walked us to our table informed us of firework, parade, and Fantasmic showtimes...completely unprompted, which I loved.
The Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and serves a menu that is diverse and vaguely american. The problem is, sometimes diverse, vaguely american food is well...meh...vague and not that great.
Lets talk about something real quick. Disney Parks has an epidemic of massive proportion. No, I'm not talking about Frozen, or selfie sticks...I'm talking house made veggie burgers. These patties have been replacing the standard veggie patties that have been prevalent in Disney parks for years. The problem is? They're pretty bland, taste wise...and have NO DISCERNIBLE PROTEIN. These are mostly made of potato and other starches. Meh. Imagine eating potatoes on bread. In theory, yes, its delicious. However the implementation is dreadful. This is a burger we didn't finish.
One menu item I was really looking forward to was the fried pickles. These, unlike most restaurants, are pickles spears as opposed to pickle chips. I'd enjoyed the fried spears at Sci-Fi Dine In...and loved that Disneyland had its own version!
These were as good as I could have hoped for. If I have any complaint, its that the panko breading wasn't holding to the pickles very well, but I enjoyed them none the less.
By far the highlight of our meal was the cherry malted shake. Instead of waiting until after dinner, we enjoyed this treat amongst the savory items...as a malted should be. This was the unifying item among a not so wonderful meal. Dunking my fried pickle spears in ice cream was basically the most exciting part of my day. As with most Disney restaurants that serve shakes, Carnation Cafe serves the "leftovers" in a metal tumbler, for your continued enjoyment. I appreciate this very much. :)
Overall, Carnation Cafe was kind of disappointing. The food was meh at best, and even the perfect view along Main Street USA wasn't enough to salvage what should have been a magical dining experience. Next time we will listen to the advice of Disney Hipster Jamie and eat here for breakfast, where we can watch happy families as they enter the park...