Some of the much-loved Walt Disney World buffet restaurants are currently closed during this first phase of reopening. The buffets being closed is understandable with all of the required safety measures that have been put into place in an effort to offer as safe a theme park experience as possible. But, while some of those buffets might be temporarily sidelined, a few, including Biergarten, have morphed into new experiences. Would it have the same charm and food quality that it had before? Let's visit Biergarten and find out!
Biergarten, the table service restaurant located in EPCOT's Germany pavilion, was a place that I passed by for years. I had convinced myself that I didn't like German food, and the smell of sauerkraut left me less than excited to give the restaurant a whirl. Then, one December, I had the chance to dine there during a staff outing with the teammates that I used to work with, and I found out how very wrong I had been.
I had the chance to dine at Biergarten again recently, and I thought maybe I'd take you along as my virtual dining guest. Ready? I hope you're hungry.
First things first. If you're in EPCOT without a dining reservation, be sure to check the My Disney Experience app. Due to limited park capacity, dining locations have more availability, and if you're within two tenths of a mile or so, you can use the new "now" button to see which restaurants within your vicinity have immediate availability. While Biergarten didn't come up when "now" was pushed, there were a couple of open reservation times within the hour. My hubby and I snagged one, and went straight to the restaurant to check in.
Currently, the prices for Biergarten are $46 per adult, and $25 for kiddos age 3-9.
Thankfully, Oktoberfest Musikanten, the band that plays at Biergarten throughout the day, is currently performing. I was so glad to see that little sign on the check-in podium. I had hoped that they'd still be entertaining guests as I think that they are a large part of what makes Biergarten such a fun experience. At this time, the dance floor isn't open, so if you're looking forward to dancing to a good polka during supper, you'll need to take a rain check.
Guests waiting for their table to be called are asked to wait near the doors, just behind the podium. There are a couple of benches there, and there's plenty of space to remain physically distant in the pavilion while you wait.
During this new normal, the team at Biergarten has shifted from serving food to guests directly at the buffet to serving the same delicious fare via all-you-care-to-eat plates and platters that are brought to the table. So, to review: same food, same jovial atmosphere, same musicians on the stage and all the food I care to eat is brought to me? Sign me up.
I know that Walt Disney World is filled with charming restaurants; I think Biergarten is one of the tops in that category. Once you step inside the restaurant, you find yourself in an "outdoor" courtyard in a quaint German town. The fall moon is bright, and friends are gathered around long tables.
With the current safety measures in place, groups are seated at every other table, if not further apart. My husband and I were one of eight groups there that Thursday evening, and even if you're a party of two, you are seated at your own long table. As we've seen at other WDW dining locations, the menu is available via QR code. Your server will also run down all of the options that will be making their way to your table.
The meal consists of three courses: salads, entrées, and sweets/desserts. Non-alcoholic beverages are included, and Biergarten also, as you might expect, has a lengthy selection of beer and wine.
The first food to arrive to the table after your beverages is a variety of salads.
The salad selection offered includes traditional German potato salad, cucumber salad with onions and tomatoes, macaroni salad, and beets. Keep in mind that you can request additional servings of anything at any time, so enjoy. My favorite item in this round was the macaroni salad. What's not to love? It was creamy yet light, and quite good. And yes, I also had a few beets. My mom used to serve beets all the time with dinner when I was a kid, so I felt I had to for old time's sake. It'll be tempting to fill up on salads during this first portion of the meal, but be warned: pace yourself.
Along with the salads came what I was most looking forward to: Biergarten's pretzel rolls. Glorious, beloved, toasty pretzel rolls. By the time the meal was done, I believe that I had consumed four. And it was heavenly. I definitely did not pace myself when it came to the pretzel rolls.
Next to arrive to the table was a large platter of entrée and side options. This course offers a variety of sausages, sauerkraut, roasted chicken and potatoes, spaetzle, meatballs, and schnitzel. I'm a fan of schnitzel, and I was happy to see that it was included in the offerings. If you've never had schnitzel, it's essentially a very thin fried pork chop. My second favorite item on the platter was the spaetzle. Spaeztle is a corkscrew-shaped egg noodle, and it's a side that's completely accessible, even if German food's not your thing. The meatballs were incredibly good, and it was fun to try the different sausages and chicken. And I had my very first bite of sauerkraut ever.
For the kids (or kids at heart), a plate of kid-friendly options arrived at the table with the other entrée options. Hot dogs, green beans, and Biergarten's famous Nudel Gratin are included on the plate. And yes, if you require additional Nudel Gratin (a lovely German macaroni and cheese casserole that includes Swiss cheese and heavy cream), it can be arranged. Yum!
The meal ends with a variety of the sweet treats for which Biergarten is known. A long platter holds three slices of cheesecake (coupled with a berry compote), three slices of Black Forest cake, and several chocolate chip cookies.
I didn't try the chocolate chip cookies at first (after all, I had just baked Jack-Jack's Num Num cookies thank you very much), but my hubby encouraged me to have one after trying one himself. Great googly moogly. The cookies were chewy with a slight crunch on top, and with soft chocolate throughout. Trust me, eat the cookies. Of the three desserts on the plate, my least favorite was the cheesecake. It was bland, and when it was up against the other two desserts (plus the one I'm about to describe), it fell short.
Biergarten's warm apple strudel with vanilla icing arrives to the table on a plate of its very own, and rightfully so. This is a lovely dessert, and one that you should leave a bit of room for. The pastry is flaky, and the generous layers of apples enrobed in spices were just perfect. Don't miss this.
During our meal, Oktoberfest Musikanten played a set of their delightfully fun and upbeat songs. These musicians are incredibly talented, and in my mind, help make the meal what it is.
Even though the dance floor is currently closed to guests, the band members have fun playing along with the audience members, and, yes, they played the alpenhorn just like they used to. They are just so much fun to watch and listen to.
I am so happy to say that Biergarten hasn't lost its charm, even with the safety measures in place. Our server was wonderful, and each cast member was warm and welcoming. And I'd go back again in a heartbeat. One can never have too many pretzel rolls, you know.
Have you dined at Biergarten since EPCOT's reopening? What did you think of the experience? If not, will Biergarten be on your must-do list for your next trip?