Paris. The city of Love. The city of Lights. The home to some of the best food in the world.
Too bad I've never been there. But I have been to Epcot, which is pretty much the same thing, right?
The first time I read the menu for Chef's de France, I knew that if I had to pick one restaurant at Disney World to go to, I wanted it to be this one. For a relatively new member of the "Look at me, I eat vegetables and fancy food now!" club, even the names of the food they served there sounded delicious:
-Canard au miel, haricots vert et Polenta
-Filet de saumon, epinards sur coulis de tomatow et poivron rouge
-Plat de cote de boeuf au cabernet avee pates
Even after I read the descriptions (in English of course), I was still enchanted. So I called and booked our reservation.
When that muggy, hazy Friday finally rolled around, we headed over to France for our early dinner. (Though we still hadn't finished digesting our huge German lunch!)
The French pavilion is set up as a darling little Parisian town with patisseries and perfume stores, artists and musicians, and is home to more than a few familiar Disney faces:
It was my favorite country in the world showcase, and make me want to travel to Europe more than ever. (Anyone wanna lend me a few grand?)
And that was my reaction before I even tried the food...
So we checked in at Chef's de France a few minutes early, and they had us sit outside under a tent until they called our names. Luckily we only had to wait a few minutes before they ushered us into the gorgeous air conditioned restaurant.
Like other Disney restaurants, it is divided into several smaller rooms to give the illusion of intimacy, a wonderful design feature when you stop to consider the hundreds of people eating at any given time.
We were seated in the front room, looking out along the streets of Paris.
Note the little girl at the table on the right. She was crying and screaming for the majority of the meal, and the poor parents did everything they could to calm her down. Eventually they just left, leaving full glasses of expensive wine and half-eaten dinners on the table. I felt so bad for them, but this just goes to show you that Disney World is no place for children!
I don't remember if I've explained this, but on the Disney dining plan you receive 1 drink, 1 entree and 1 dessert at every meal. Any alcohol or appetizers to order you have to pay for yourself, but when you calculate how much you saved by getting the plan, splurging on a glass of Sauvignon blanc and an amazing bowl of French onion soup is totally worth it.
Especially when your soup is as creamy and rich as this one was, topped with gruyere cheese and brimming with delectable smushy pieces of bread. *drool*
Knowing you can order anything off the menu in an expensive restaurant because your meal is already paid for is an AMAZING FEELING! Finally, I could indulge my taste buds without regard to price, or trying to calculate how long it would take me to pay off the check. And indulge we did.
Jeremy ordered the Duck l'orange because he absolutely loves duck, and rarely gets to eat it. The waitress brought it out, and it was nothing short of stunning. There was a good amount of meat there, all smothered in a tantalizing sauce that perfectly complimented the tenderness of the duck. It was so easy to cut and chew, and inspired both of us to try more dark meat in the future.
The polenta was a great side, nice and starchy. He ate the green beans and liked them, I assume, but I hate them so I can't tell you my opinion.
And since this was our indulgent meal, I of course went with the seafood trio in a lobster broth with gnocchi. Oh my goodness.The scallops were my favorite by far, but the mahi mahi surprised me. I had never eaten it before, and I found it to be similar to swordfish in that it's very meaty and tastes only faintly of fish. It was phenomenal, even though I couldn't get Jeremy to try any of it! Baby steps, I suppose.
While we were savoring our meals, we noticed a very French looking man wheeling around a dinner cart around to each of the tables. Imagine my delight when he lifted up the dome and revealed this:
Remy, the adorable rat from Ratatouille! I had no idea he was going to be there, and I was so excited to see him. He would look around, move his arms and squeak, and the French guy pushing the cart would translate for him.
"You are not zee health inspector, are you?"
I loved that even in an upscale restaurant you still got a touch of Disney magic, and in a fun and tasteful way. They didn't have a cast member dressed as a giant rat, that would be out of place and just look stupid.
So after Remy had moved on to delight the next table, our waitress brought our desserts.
I took the picture of Jeremy's dessert first so that he could start eating while I took mine, and when I went to ask for another bite he had already finished it! That's how good it was.
I had originally planned on ordering the sorbets or the creme brulee, but the table next to us ordered the creme puffs, and they looked adorable. So I got those instead, and I honestly wasn't that impressed. The pastry had a weird texture and consistency, and wasn't all that sweet. I almost didn't mind that I didn't like them that much because after such a big dinner I didn't have that much room for dessert anyway.
This restaurant is absolutely gorgeous. From the huge wine selection to the freshly baked baguettes they bring to each table, you really get the impression that you've magically crossed the ocean into this wonderful and romantic country. And the unexpected surprise of getting to meet my favorite little chef really just made the evening perfect.
I couldn't have asked for a better dinner, and when we go back to Disney (not for a few years, unfortunately), we will definitely be eating here again.