The kitchen gets in trouble, though, with the flashier dishes. The seafood platter is a towering structure of raw oysters, clams, steamed mussels, chilled shrimp and half an overcooked crab. With the exception of the prime oysters, none of it has much flavor. Another signature appetizer features a sizzling "beach rock." Partitions hold sticky, sweet soy-glazed ribs, skewers of chicken and a crock of garlic-seared shrimp in what tastes like al dente baked beans. The hot rock sizzles, but not for long: This dish is a pass. The best is billed as "Seven Sparkling Sins," a platter of dainty bites similar to really fancy party hors d'oeuvres.
Sutton also offers a four-course vintner's menu for $52 every night. With wines, it's $79. The extensive wine list ranges over all of California, not just Napa Valley, and it seems to range all over the page, too. Prices are so far over to the right you almost need a ruler to make sure you're asking for a $29 wine and not a $120 wine.
Desserts are a strong suit. Meyer lemon mousse brulee has the texture of a cloud and comes with a lacy cookie filled with blood orange sorbet. There's a dreamy goat cheese flan with a tropical fruit salad, an elegant roasted winter pear and a seductive crepe souffle--crepes puffed in the oven with a half-inch layer of chocolate that come with bananas and good ice cream.
On the last night, we decide to linger near the fire for a while, but the only seat left is a child-sized chair. In the lobby, tuckered-out resort-goers are sprawled across the armchair and sofas, asleep. Just then a flock of couples in black tie streams into the lobby and alights on the remaining sofas. They look impossibly exotic among all the sweatshirts and jeans, like actors let loose from a Cole Porter play.
Grand Californian Hotel
1600 Disneyland Drive
AMBIENCE: Spacious Craftsman-inspired dining room with open kitchen and views of Disney's California Adventure. SERVICE: Earnest and willing. BEST DISHES: Smoked salmon pizza, grilled goat cheese, California rock scallops, spit-roasted prime rib of pork, rack of lamb, Meyer lemon mousse brulee. Dinner appetizers, $7 to $49 (for two). Main courses, $24 to $33. Corkage, $17. WINE PICKS: 1999 Forman Chardonnay, Napa Valley; 1997 Ojai Vineyards Syrah, Bien Nacido Hillside, Santa Barbara County. FACTS: Lunch and dinner daily. Valet parking. Rating is based on food, service and ambience, with price taken into account in relation to quality. ****: Outstanding on every level. ***: Excellent. **: Very good. *: Good. No star: Poor to satisfactory.