I am delighted to bring you this guest review from veteran Disney World Moms Panelist Erin Foster of a recent visit to the Inventions Restaurant Sunday Brunch Buffet in the Disneyland Hotel in Disneyland Resort Paris. I, for one, have never experienced this restaurant, and now I can’t wait to go! Take it away, Erin!
I had the great good fortune to make a trip to Paris with my family last week. Because no true Disney devotee could get less than an hour away from an as-yet-unexperienced Disney theme park, we decided to visit Disneyland Paris and the Disney Studios Paris. We stayed for two nights at the magnificent Disneyland Hotel, which is literally a handful of steps away from the Main Gate of the Disneyland Paris park.
Disneyland Paris was the first stop on our vacation. We went directly there from Charles de Galle airport after an overnight flight, customs, baggage gathering, and a 45-minute taxi ride, but no meal. Suffice it to say that we were tired, hungry, and more than a little cranky. Our room was about an hour from being ready and we needed to eat and get our bearing. The front desk cast member suggested that we go upstairs to the Inventions restaurant, which was serving a character lunch buffet.
Inventions is one of two restaurants at the Disneyland Hotel. The other is called California Grill. The California Grill is a top-of-line spot, which only serves dinner, much like the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill at Walt Disney World (though the menus are entirely different). There is no quick-serve option at the hotel.
We walked right into Inventions with no reservation and no wait. (Try doing that at Chef Mickey’s.) We had no idea what to expect, but immediately were put at ease when we saw characters working the room, just like at “home.” There did not seem to be any theme to the characters that came out. During the course of our meal we saw Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Pinocchio, Scrooge McDuck, and Alice’s White Rabbit.
The restaurant has two spacious dining rooms, connected by a long, wide hallway that houses the buffet line. From the windows of the room, you have lovely views of the park, including the Main Gate, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Space Mountain: Mission 2. Hung on the ceiling over the buffet line are dozens of antique machines: vacuum cleaners, bicycles, typewriters, etc., contributing to the “Inventions” name of the restaurant.
Our meal started out quite civilized. Our table was set with a white tablecloth and wine glasses. Our server immediately brought out a basket of warm French rolls with fresh butter, along with the wine list. Because we were so tired from travel, we opted for Coca-Cola Light (aka Diet Coke) instead of wine. The Coke came out in heavy glass bottles. The entire meal was expensive (I’ll get to that later), but getting the Coke ended up to be a mistake, each bottle cost 4.50, or approximately $6.10. A bit much, even by theme park standards.
But now onto the good stuff:
Because we were first seated in one of the dining rooms to the side, we did not initially see the buffet line. (By the way, they pronounced “buffet” like the last name of singer Jimmy Buffet. My kids thought this was a real hoot.)
My first look at the buffet was quite literally a take-your-breath-away moment. The entire display was simply unimaginable by American standards. The French clearly take their food seriously. We were going to have a MEAL. The characters were an afterthought here; the real attraction was the food.
There were five main areas to the line: salad and cold dishes, cold seafood, hot food, cheeses, and dessert. The salads and cold dishes included fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, served with teeny bottles of vinaigrette; and chilled asparagus. There were also tortilla chips presented with strikingly beautiful conical cups of sauce: layers of green guacamole, a red sauce that was somewhere between cocktail sauce and salsa, and a white tangy cream. These conical cups of dips could also be used with the items on the seafood table.
Also at the Cold Buffet were olive bread; cold cuts, including prosciutto, and smoked chicken; fois gras; chilled fois gras crème brulee; individual cups of shrimp cocktail, individual cups of chicken Caesar salad; individual cups of tomato and olive salad; smoked salmon with all appropriate toppings; an olive bar; cold poached trout; a green bean and ham salad; carrot salad; plus various mustards and sauces.
The extraordinary selection of cold seafood included escargot, giant mussels on the half shell, crayfish, and the largest peel-and-eat shrimp I have ever seen. One shrimp covered the entire palm of my hand.
The centerpiece of the hot food was a carved-to-order lamb, stuffed with mushrooms and coated with parmesan and herbs.
There were at least a dozen oval copper pans filled with delicacies that included bouillabaisse, pan fried bass with vegetables,
duck confit, beef with paprika sauce,
rack of lamb with goat cheese and potatoes,
green vegetables with butter, and sautéed potatoes with thyme.
There was no separate children’s serving station, but there were American kid-friendly food options including a four-cheese pizza, pasta with four cheeses (a mac n’ cheese stand-in), plain spaghetti noodle with the option of adding red sauce with meatballs, fried fish filets, fried chicken cutlets, and Mickey-shaped fried potato patties.
Look at the photos and I don’t have to tell you that each and every dish was magnificent.
Moving on, there was a selection of cheeses for the next course: Camembert, blue, goat cheese coated in ash, as well as few more mild wrapped options.
Next to the cheese were fruit and dessert, dominated by a bountiful display of pears, bananas, clementines, kiwi, grapes, berries, and exotic melons.
The dessert options included madelines, pots de crème, small cups of French yogurt, cheesecake, pineapple upside down cake, raspberry crème cake, fruit gelatins, wrapped candies and lollypops, Mickey waffles (exactly like Chef Mickey’s breakfast waffles, but here topped with chocolate sauce), chocolate cakes with whipped cream, and even Buzz Lightyear éclairs. And if that weren’t enough, at the end of the line stood a small refrigerator housing ice pops and wrapped ice cream cones.
All of this was an out-of-body experience for my family. We have been to at least a hundred character meals at Walt Disney World, and we enjoyed them all, but this impeccable feast puts the displays in Orlando to shame.
As for pricing, I was so overwhelmed by the food that I forget to note the price of the meal. Later in the day, I walked by and took a photo of the price plan for the dinner buffet. I didn’t get to take a look at the dinner service; I can barely imagine the largesse. The pricing for dinner was 48.60 (about $65) for guests ages 12 and up, 24.70 (about $33) for children ages 7-11, and 19.00 (about $25) for children ages 3-6. As at WDW, guests under age 3 eat free. Our lunch pricing was a bit less than this. This is obviously not an inexpensive meal, but the quality and presentation of the food was unparalleled. As a point of comparison, dinner at Cinderella’s Royal table in WDW’s Magic Kingdom currently costs about $57 for guests age 10 and up, and about $35 for guests ages 3-9, so pricing is definitely in the same ballpark as CRT.
Thanks, again, Erin, for sharing your adventures with us! I’m always excited to see the next place your travels will take you and to explore the food through your descriptions and camera lens.
Speaking of, Erin will be back next week with more stories from her Disneyland Paris trip! Stay tuned!