Tuesday, May 22, 2018

celebrating the old lady's birthday at da club

so, back to the old lady's birthday celebration.  the hub and i had come up with a pretty great plan that we figured would go over pretty darn well with the whole family, and it involved one of his friends who realized a lifelong dream of becoming a member of disneyland's exclusive club 33.

if you've been reading for awhile - oh shit, i'm talking like ten years! - you might remember that we've actually been lucky enough to enjoy dinner here once before.  in fact, it was for the old lady's 13th birthday, and the club has been remodeled quite a bit since that visit.  we've been dying to go since the renovations were completed and the club was reopened to members and their guests.  and with the new club came new rules, one of them being that a guest reservation for a friday or saturday night had to be made two weeks in advance.  they've also tightened up the rules for photography inside the club - you can take as many pictures as you want as long as no one who isn't in your party can be seen in the background.  and absolutely no photography is allowed in the restrooms.  there's no videography anywhere inside, including silly boomerang videos.  oh well.

i worked on dresses for the three of us to wear, trying to be stealth because i knew if she saw the disney prints i was using, it would be a dead giveaway.  i ended up finishing the last of it on the morning of her birthday, while she was at work.  and when she got home, i'd done some decorating and placed all of the gifts we had for her on the table.


i couldn't stop giggling while i pasted this selfie i'd found on my phone from a previous trip to disneyland onto the birthday banner i strung across the doorway.


so when the hub and the old lady's special friend got home, we were all ready to go in our disney dresses - which the girls had to wear leggings underneath because it ended up being one of those chilly "may gray" days, even drizzling on us for part of our drive down to anaheim.  when we got to the parking structure, the hub dropped the three of us off at the escalators because he knew that if we all went together to pick up his ticket from guest services, it would completely blow our surprise.  so we headed on through security, onto the tram and into the park.  i led them to the entrance to blue bayou, which is just a few steps away from the entrance to club 33.


and when the hub and the bean finally arrived, we made our way to the front door.  except that the hub had no idea that the entrance had been moved and when he stopped at the old club 33 door and i kind of jerked my head over to tell him to keep moving, i knew the old lady had gotten confirmation of where we were actually going.  she told me later that she pretty much knew once she saw our dresses, but this clinched it for her.  oh well.

at the front door, we pushed the button to alert the cast members that we had arrived for our reservation.


as we stepped aside to wait for the door to open, another club member arrived and flashed her membership card in front of the doorbell.  and then of course, when the door opened, she and her (rather large) party sashayed on right in front of us.  one of them patted me on the shoulder and said "oh, i guess we kind of went right in front of you, didn't we?'  heh heh, motherfucker.  just go on inside and get out of my sight.

it was a few minutes before the door opened again and we were finally allowed to enter.  we stepped through the doorway and emerged on the other side right into the court of angels, a lovely little area that used to be open to everyone.



we had a little time to kill, so we took some obligatory photos by the staircase.  they closed this area just before we did our first photo shoot in the park, and now i'm kind of kicking myself for not taking a family photo here.  but we got a few good shots, so that's okay.



and then we were led up the stairs and into the restaurant.  i paused for a second and managed to get this shot:


the chandelier overhead as we walked into the lobby also had the club logo on it.


i eyed the case of club-exclusive merchandise as we walked past.  i'd heard that there was a special line of dooney & bourke bags, and snapped this so i could take a longer look later.  i'm generally not a dooney fan, but we all know what a sucker i am for exclusive disney crap.


we were seated at a lovely table in the main dining room, and these plates were at each place setting.


the menu listed the options for the five-course dinner.



and this was the list of house cocktails, with more choices of alcohol on the pages behind it.


the bean opted for the non-alcoholic version of a gin fizz, which our server said would taste rather like an orange julius.  it was delicious, although i was a little surprised that she was willing to try it since she generally hates anything fizzy or soda-like.


our amuse bouche was a delicious sliver of toasted brioche with slices of cucumber and shaved parmesan.


we had one last gift for the old lady to open, which i'd left in the car because the security guards at the tram statins typically don't let you bring in wrapped presents.  i was really surprised when the hub handed it to me to put in my bag, and he just kind of smirked and moved on.  anyway, it was a specific wallet that she'd had her eye on, and she was happily surprised when she ripped off the paper and saw it.


she and i had ordered the same thing for our first course - a truffled mushroom crepe.  it was creamy and delicious.


the bean had chosen the steak tartare, something she'd never had before but ended up loving.  she devoured every last bit of this.


the hub went with the hamachi crudo served with an orange vinaigrette, and he said it was tasty.


this is the sautéed scallop, ordered by the old lady's special friend.  it was served with a cauliflower puree, capers and ham.


for my second course, i went with the french frisee salad served with lardons and a poached egg on top.  the bean was happy to take that egg off my hands while i chewed on the salad.


the others had ordered the minestrone soup.  the servers placed bowls of what looked like chopped vegetables in front of them and then poured hot broth from individual pitchers.  the hub had opted for the other salad on the menu, but i didn't get pictures of either item.  oh well.  i'm sure you can picture vegetable soup bowls and mixed greens salad.

look, even the bread basket was rocking the logo.


i can't even remember what the fish of the day was, but i'd ordered it and it arrived cooked perfectly with crispy skin on top and served with shrimp bisque, leeks and potato.  it was delicious, a pretty generous portion and was my favorite course of the meal.


i was surprised to see that the old lady had chosen the housemade goose sausage, served with pappardelle pasta.  not a typical item for her to order, but maybe the pasta had drawn her to it.  my girl loves her pasta.


palate cleanser!  strawberry sorbet with a berry puree poured on top.  it was tart and cold and yummy.


i was already feeling pretty full by then, so i was a little agog at the size of the fourth course.  this was the filet mignon braciole, with prosciutto rolled inside and a red wine jus drizzled on top.  while it was also super delicious, i had a little trouble finishing it because i was so stuffed.


this was the old lady's parisian gnocchi, with kale and a carrot top pesto.


the girls decided to stretch their legs a little and went out onto the balcony to do some peoplewatching.


while they were gone, the dessert courses were served.  the hub had chosen the cheese plate, which looked pretty awesome.


my profiteroles were stuffed with a milk chocolate ice cream with some fresh whipped cream:


and if that wasn't good enough, the server picked up a tiny pitcher and poured a nice hefty portion of warm chocolate ganache on top.


the special friend had ordered the tangerine vanilla cheesecake with orange caramel.  he's not usually a sweets kinda guy, but even he raved about this.


both girls had opted for the chocolate hazelnut cake, and the old lady's came with a cute little edible birthday greeting.


along with the check came little boxes containing mignardises - a couple of housemade chocolates plus a fruity, gummy treat.  we were all so full, these all went home.


we'd checked our jackets at the front desk, so i handed the card to the hub to retrieve them.


but before we left, the server happily took a group photo for us.


the old lady and i went out onto the balcony for one last look.  being a friday evening, the park was bustling with activity.


across the way, we could just catch a glimpse of the exclusive members-only bar.


this is where the bean went to hang out between courses.  she sat on one of these chairs for a few seconds and then stood by the window to look at the crowds down below.


she signed the guest book and then took a seat as we waited for our coats.


i managed this shot of the entrance to that members-only bar.  it took a couple of tries, as i realized there were people in the background with my first shots.  i deleted them right away, because although i wouldn't have posted them anywhere i didn't want to take any chances.  any sort of infraction can result in a member's privileges being revoked and i sure wasn't going to be the one to wreak any havoc.


and peering down at us next to the door was this old audio-animatronic bird that had originally been placed in the old club that walt used to eavesdrop on conversations.  i'd never heard it actually talk the last time we were here, but this time the bean had seen and heard it say "thank you for coming!" as a couple of guests walked out the door.


we finally tore ourselves away and walked out the door and down the stairs, and i took this shot of the doorbell as it glowed in the dark night.


our one ride of the night was on the disneyland railroad, which we took to main street and attempted to find a spot to watch the fireworks.  but the bean was pretty tired and fell asleep at the table.


and so we decided to hightail it outta there before the show started in hopes of avoiding the huge crowds that try to leave all at the same time once the fireworks are over.  our timing was pretty spot on, and we got on the tram and back to the car in no time.

and if you were wondering...this was my mother's day present.  yay!


while it was definitely a splurge, i kind of hope we get to go back again one day.  maybe we can do lunch sometime.  that would be really cool.

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