Friday, September 13, 2013
Trip Report: Brunch at Club 33
With the impending closure of Club 33 for a remodel and the swirling rumors about what would be removed, I really wanted to have one last opportunity to dine there before it was transformed into something different from what had originally been created.
Piecing together the story from a number of sources (again...keep in mind these are all unofficial), it appears that the Court of Angels will be closed off in late September, and will be converted into a new entrance for Club 33. The wrought iron gates are to be replaced by stained glass doors and will prevent Disneyland guests who are not members of the Club from entering. How they are going to manage to still call it Club 33 when the entrance is clearly changing locations has yet to be addressed. I also wanted to get into the Club again so that I could snap a few last shots of the Trophy Room, which will supposedly be removed to accommodate a new (and larger) kitchen. On with my brunch...
While eating the buffet items from the cart, we were visited by Mickey and Pluto. This is a brunch extra that doesn't normally occur during the dinner hour.
For brunch, guests order an entrée and get to partake of the appetizer buffet in the hallway. The selections are nothing out of the ordinary; a selection of fresh fruits, cheeses, a few salads, shrimp...fairly basic. The one standout was the hot onion soup, which was creamy and flavorful. I went back for seconds on that one!
My entrée was a repeat of something I had enjoyed the year before; a trio of pastas. Disappointingly, the quality had slid considerably in that time period. All three pastas were the same; two of the sauces were the same bland marinara sauce, and the third was a watery cream sauce. The meatballs seemed as if they'd been made a week before and reheated.
Compare to what was served a year ago; three different pastas and sauces topped with fresh grated parmesan and mozzarella. What a world of difference in flavor, too.
Adding insult to injury, the service was poor. Over the years that I have dined here, the service has varied greatly. I still remember my first visit here about ten years ago; one of my guests asked for a wine pairing suggestion with her entrée. The waitress said she really didn't know...and that was all she wrote. I couldn't believe that a restaurant of such an exclusive nature had waitstaff that showed so little knowledge or enthusiasm with their position.
This occasion was not much better; our waiter (who I have had in the past) exhibited little interest in our table, only checking back once for the obligatory "how is everything?" and the final presentation of the check. We had to ask a busser to get refills on our drinks, and the napkins were never refolded during our trips to the buffet. The speed with which dishes were cleared from the table ran the gamut from fast to exceedingly slow. Early in the meal, a busser stood over one of my guests while she was finishing what was on her plate. When we got our desserts at the buffet, the dishes sat, and sat, and sat...
Overall, things had seemed to be on the upswing for Club 33 during my visits the last few years, but this particular one was a fail for me. The upstairs hostess could use a few classes on masking her true feelings for the guests, too. This one has consistently shown a sour face whenever I have seen her working there. There was a manager on site, who only stopped by one table to chat with guests that he apparently knew. No visits to other tables to inquire how their brunch was; I can only deduce that he didn't care or knew the answer already and just didn't want to hear it.
The famous elevator had a tacky "Out of Order" paper sign taped to it, which didn't make sense since I saw it go up and down a few times during my visit. I have been told that the sign appears when the staff does not want to be bothered with operating it.
In light of my experience, I had little desire to take many photos, even of the Trophy Room which was scheduled to disappear.
The floor of the Club suffers from severe scuffing on the hardwood, looking as if they are in dire need of a refinishing (and cleaning). A souvenir program from the Half Marathon was stuffed underneath one of the table legs to keep it from wobbling, and the table cloths needed a good pressing.
If this once beloved Club has degraded into a place with deferred maintenance issues and employees who don't care (and aren't afraid to show it), then I find it very hard to feel sad about the impending changes. Walt is long gone, and so (it seems) are the people who care about good customer service and giving guests value for their money. The night before, I had a fantastic meal and top notch service at Napa Rose for practically the same price...without the attitude. Even at its best, Club 33 does not hold a candle to its less stuffy sister restaurant at the Grand Californian.
Even the duck looks unhappy to be here. I can't blame him.
I can't take "credit" for the Ladies' Restroom shots; my friend Bunnie shot those for me.
I thought she did a pretty darn good job, don't you?
As soon as we left The Club, we craved air conditioning. We ducked into the Main Street Cinema for a few minutes; Tilly was already in her Halloween finery.
Our next air conditioned refuge was the Main Street Opera House. Mr. Lincoln welcomed us with his Gettysburg Address.
This audio animatronic figure impresses me every time I see it.
And what a "wow" of a finish!
If you don't feel patriotic at the end of the show, you better check your pulse!
It was fairly humorous to hear guests groaning about Miley Cyrus' portrait at the exit hallway for the show.
Next up: a quick trip through DCA!
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