Lamplight Lounge is a table-service restaurant and bar in Disney California Adventure’s Pixar Pier. Taking over what used to be Cove Bar and Ariel’s Grotto, Lamplight Lounge opened in 2018 with the rest of Pixar Pier. The restaurant and bar serves American, more specifically Californian, food and celebrates the wide catalog of Pixar films. This review will include photos of the restaurant along with thoughts on the restaurant’s atmosphere, food and value.
While I have qualms with Pixar Pier, Lamplight Lounge has a number of things going for it, starting with the atmosphere. Sitting right on the water, the restaurant has a beautiful view of the park and is a perfect place to relax. Not all of the seats offer a view of the water, but if that appeals to you just request a seat at check-in. Likewise, most of the bar seating will have a view of the water.
I mention sitting by the water first because it was my favorite part of the restaurant, at least from an atmospheric perspective. California Adventure has some hidden gems and relaxing areas but sitting along the water midday or watching the sunset behind the pier is blissful. We recommend that over other areas in the restaurant, especially if you’re looking for a more romantic meal or a respite from a busy park day.
That doesn’t mean the rest of Lamplight Lounge is bad. More than half of the seats in the restaurant are without a view of the water but in exchange guests have more Pixar trinkets and art to stare at. Lamplight Lounge does follow the Disney, and seemingly everywhere else architecture trend of being a ‘restored warehouse’. Overall that trend is getting a little tiresome but Lamplight Lounge pulls it off pretty well. Instead of bare bones the restaurant actually does look repurposed. The brick walls are a nice touch and the wood ceiling and floor give off a warm tone. Lamplight Lounge also gets a lot of natural light, making the atmosphere all the more enjoyable.
As far as actual theme goes, there really isn’t one. The restaurant acts as a Pixar museum, of sorts, with memorabilia and artwork throughout. There’s no entering into another world or story, Lamplight Lounge is simply a place to enjoy a bunch of Pixar stuff. In this case, I think that works well enough. With Pixar Pier celebrating all of the studio’s work, the restaurant follows that same cue. I’m not saying I would rather go here than eat on that spaceship with all of those large people from Wall-E. Also, a Ratatouille restaurant makes a ton of sense. But, I don’t mind the broad Pixar theme and it’s fun to look around.
As for all of the Pixar art, it was a good blend of posters and trinkets with a few text based things thrown in. If I had one nitpick about all of the items, I’d like to see a few more behind the scenes things like scripts and concept art or storyboards. I’m guessing that’s just personal preference and I do enjoy the décor throughout Lamplight Lounge.
Moving on to the food, here’s a look at the menu. The bar upstairs does have a limited menu, albeit with some quality options, compared to the actual restaurant downstairs.
Lamplight Lounge has a great array of appetizers, one of them being the Potato Skins. These are Yukon Gold Potatoes with Brown Butter-Caper Yogurt, Smoked Paprika Aïoli, and Manchego Cheese. Everything about them is delicious. The potatoes themselves are crispy with a nice seasoning. The toppings on the potato are savory and rich, balanced by the starch. Both the Yogurt and Aïoli are fantastic, even if you want to have both in the same bite. At $15, this is one of the best values at Disneyland Resort!
Another appetizer offered here are the Crispy Piggy Wings. These consist of Pork Drumettes with Chili-Ginger Glaze, Toasted Sesame Seeds, Cilantro, and Slaw. Sadly, this dish doesn’t quite live up to the high bar of the Potato Skins. They aren’t bad, as the pork has a nice flavor and the Glaze is a nice blend of spicy and sweet. I wouldn’t go out of my way to get them though. At $17, I don’t see this as a very good value. They do tend to come and go from the menu so if this is a selling point, make sure to check before you go!
One of the standout entrees is the Salmon PLT. This is Grilled Salmon with Pancetta, Tomato, Lemon-Bacon Aioli served on Toasted Focaccia. To put it simply, this was a fantastic sandwich. The Salmon was flavorful and grilled perfectly. The Tomato and Pancetta countered each other, adding a little bit of sweet and salty. The Lemon-Bacon Aioli served a similar purpose and was delicious on the salmon. This was truly one of the better sandwiches I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, it has the price to prove it at $23. That’s fairly steep for a sandwich but the quality ultimately made it worth the price. I won’t go as far as calling this a good value but it’s worth it due to how tasty it is.
We’ve also tried the Cheddar Burger which consists of Grilled Custom Burger Blend with Cheddar, Roasted Plum Tomato, Lettuce, Red Onion and Avocado Ranch Spread on a Toasted Amish Bun. This is one of the best burgers at Disneyland Resort, with a delicious patty and the Avocado Ranch Spread adding a nice depth of flavor to the fresh ingredients. I don’t think it surpasses the burger (or sliders in their current incarnation) at GCH Grill but it has a clear path to my second favorite burger I’ve had on property. Unfortunately, the price reflects that at $22 and I’d probably recommend the Salmon PLT because it’s a more unique option.
I should mention that the fries were surprisingly good as well. Disney fries are usually disappointing and I’m not a big fan of steak fries but the seasoning was great and the fries were fresh.
The Salmon PLT was great but the star of Lamplight Lounge is the Lobster Nachos. These were served at Cove Bar before the restaurant changed identities. Among Disney fans, Lobster Nachos are the stuff of legend and after ordering them it was easy to see why. The nachos themselves were very good with Cheese, Chiptle Crema and Pico de Gallo. I really liked the chips as they were fresh and warm. The lobster is what really sets the meal apart. I was surprised at just how much lobster was on the plate. This is a huge portion size and is big enough to share. Upon tasting it you may not want to share but it’s big enough that you may feel better about life after if you do.
I will say that the Lobster Nachos maybe aren’t as high quality as they were a few years ago. I still love them but don’t feel quite as strongly as I did. The price, again, is a little steep at $21 but with the substantial portion of lobster I’d say it’s fair. It’s a delicious option that I’d be happy to order again.
We’ve tried a few other appetizers at Lamplight Lounge, with our favorite being the Brussels Caesar. The restaurant does change out the appetizer menu somewhat often with the Potato Skins and Lobster Nachos as the mainstays. Lamplight also has a host of cocktails and mocktails to try. I like a good amount that I’ve had but there’s no particular standout. It’s not a bad place to get a drink in the park but the hotel bars offer slightly more interesting options.
Lamplight Lounge is a really good table-service restaurant. If you like Pixar then the décor will be interesting. If you don’t like Pixar then who are you? Honestly, even if you don’t care about the memorabilia then just request a seat by the water and enjoy the relaxed setting. Yes, the restaurant does have a couple of negatives in the high prices and lack of story. Still, the great setting on the water and excellent food make Lamplight Lounge one of Disneyland’s better restaurants.
Overall Rating – 9/10
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Categories: Restaurant Reviews