Chef’s De France Review
by Kevin Klose - 12/18/07
We received a “spur of the moment” invitation to go to the Candlelight Processional and see Chita Rivera. (She did an awesome job)
It was decided that we would make an afternoon of this and have dinner at Epcot. We did not have a Candlelight Processional dinner package (that’s for Christmas Eve) but rather, we just made an ADR for a couple hours prior to the show.
We arrived at the France pavilion at the appropriate time and were told it would be just a few moments.
As anyone who has read one of my reviews knows, we often travel with a person in a wheelchair. I had told the Cast Member making the ADR about this and she told me she noted it on the reservation. It was readily apparent upon approaching the podium that we had a wheelchair in our party.
Once inside the building, there is a phalanx of Cast Members all dressed in black and standing with their hands behind their back. It was with this group that the wheelchair seemed to inspire 30 or 40 seconds of French stage whispering and discussion. Now, all that remains of my high school French is the ability state that it’s hard to find domestic help and to inquire as to the whereabouts of Sylvie but I could tell that we were the topic du jour.
After much discussion we were shown to our seat and in my mind it was one of the very best tables in the restaurant. We were off to the side in the smaller room overlooking the fountain, the International Gateway and France’s Santa, Pere noel, talking to a group of kids. We were right in the corner and were very comfortable with our table and location. I am not sure what the stage whispering was about but if this was the outcome…we were thrilled.
Prior to our waiter approaching our table, we enjoyed his attempt to try and discern whether a group seated directly behind to us had the Disney Dining Plan. I’m not sure they understood him or if he understood them but it was clear that they had Candlelight Dinner Package but they never used those words. They kept trying to explain that they could have anything on the menu. The waiter finally resorted to asking if “they were sleeping in a Disney hotel?” (this is much funnier if I use my fractured French imitation…but it doesn’t really translate to the written word)
With this under control, we met our waiter. He seemed a bit distant at first but quickly warmed up and was absolutely charming. I’d share his name but if you are reading this, he is on his way home to France, as his time in Epcot is done.
Dinner started with three soups. Two of us chose the Soupe a l’oignon gratinee ($5.95 Onion Soup) and one of us had the Bisque de homard ($6.25 Lobster Bisque).
The soups are served with wonder, crispy French rolls and butter. When asked if the soups were served with bread our waiter responded almost incredulously…”of course…this is France.” It was a funny line delivered in just the right tone.
The soups were delicious and everyone was happy with their choice. The onion soup is served traditionally with a healthy dose of tender cooked onions and gruyere cheese on top of a slice of French roll and the bisque was creamy and rich with small tidbits of lobster.
When it came time to order dinner, our waiter suggested that we consider a special entrée called “The French Menu”. This is their three most popular menu items grouped and specially priced. It consists of the Onion soup, Demi poulet fermier roti pommes puree au basilica braise (Half of a natural roasted chicken, basil mashed potatoes and braised tomato) and crème brulee. The price is $32.95 and is available until 7:00pm. There are no substitutions. If the items are going to be ordered separately, this works out to be a better deal as the items separately total approximately $38.00.
We went ahead and order that and also the Plat de cote de beouf au cabernet et polenta de Savoie ( $26.95 Beef short ribs braised in Cabernet wine on a bed of polenta) and the Gratin de macaroni (17.95 Baked macaroni with cream and gruyere cheese)
Of the three entrees ordered, the clear winners were the beef short ribs and the baked chicken. Both were deemed “positively delicious”. The beef ribs were tender and infused with a deep wine flavor. The chicken was a large portion which was tender and juicy. The basil mashed potatoes could have been warmer but had a deep rich buttery flavor with a hint of basil. Both were stand out dishes.
The baked macaroni and cheese was less successful. I think this was more because I was expecting a more Americanized dish. This was large pasta tubes cooked in a cream sauce and then baked with a layer of gruyere on top. The dish was very, very rich and filling but if you have your heart set on something more traditional, then you might be disappointed. Please understand, it wasn’t bad, just not what I was expecting. A portion of this entrée was left behind. The other two plates were sent back empty.
Dinner was followed by two cappuccinos (some of the best coffee on Disney property) and the included crème brulee from “The French Menu” entrée.
The restaurant has a cute kids menu which when folded in a certain way can be worn as a chef’s hat like in Ratatouille. We watched one youngster get the mini burger entrée with envy. It looked terrific.
Dinner for the three of us was approximately $94.00 and after using the Disney Dining Experience card, it came to approximately $75.00.
I can state without hesitation that this was one of the best meals we have had in Epcot in quite a while and will go back soon and next time, I’m getting the beef dish. J