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Review: New Le Cellier Signature Dinner

You remember when we analyzed the brand new Le Cellier Steakhouse Signature dinner menu a few weeks ago, right? Well, I finally had the chance to try it myself.

For those who are just tuning in, one of Disney World’s most popular restaurants, Le Cellier in Epcot’s Canada pavilion, began offering a signature dinner menu (e.g. super expensive) at the beginning of March 2011. While the restaurant remained priced at one Disney Dining Plan credit for lunch, the dinner menu cost two Disney Dining Plan credits. For those of us who don’t purchase the dining plan, that means that the dinner menu was renovated and all prices bumped up a few bucks…or more.

Atmosphere
The decor and atmosphere at Le Cellier hasn’t changed at all. You’re still dining in a very small “cellar,” featuring candlelight sconces on the walls (not real candles, of course), rich woods and deep maroon fabrics, and stone archways creating the structure of the restaurant.

Le Cellier Dining Room

Le Cellier Dining Room

Le Cellier Ceilings and Chandeliers

The only thing upon arrival that makes you think something might be slightly different is the presence of some snazzy new napkin rings (I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen napkin rings at a Disney World restaurant…) and candles on the tables…

New Napkin Rings

New Candles

Eats
But there are a few slight, though significant, changes on the menu. The menus, speaking of, are laser-printed now, which means menu items will probably change up quite frequently (something that only signature restaurants and few others get the option to do). The manager we spoke to mentioned that the menu would be tweaked as the signature launch goes on, and was eager to hear guest comments and suggestions to pass on to the chef.

You can see other changes in our previous analysis post, but basically many of your favorites remain on the menu. Cheddar cheese soup, mushroom filet, New York Strip, Chicken and Chipotle Sausage with Corn Polenta, maple creme brulee, and others remain virtually untouched. Yet the prices have been raised.

Click for larger version

Before ordering our apps and entrees, we decided to sample some drinks. I ordered the Whiskey sampler. Why? I have no idea. I’m not a whiskey drinker, but after having some Scotch at the Bull and Bear the evening before, I thought it would be fun to branch out again this evening. Now, because I’m not a whiskey drinker, all I can tell you is that I really enjoyed the 40 Creek!

Whiskey Flight

Flight is Laid Out From Left To Right

My husband tried the suggested Chateau de Charmes Cab-Merlot and very much enjoyed it.

Cab-Merlot

When our server came by, we asked specifically about the Chicken and Chipotle Sausage appetizer. It’s one of our favorites, but we didn’t see a reason to order it if it was exactly the same as it is on the lunch menu. She told us that the onion jam is a little bit sweeter, but that’s about all that changes from the lunch menu to the dinner menu. So we opted instead to order a couple of new items as appetizers — the Grilled Jumbo Asparagus Gratinee and the Assortment of Artisanal Cheese. We also ordered the “Poutine” Fries (quotes are theirs) and a Steakhouse Caesar Salad as appetizers.

The Grilled Jumbo Asparagus Gratinee was impressive-looking. Anything with a big blob of cheese on top will always get my attention. Digging a fork into the mass of veggies, cheese, and bacon, I was surprised to find the cheese light and airy — almost between a foam and a quiche. I asked our server how the cheese was prepared, and she mentioned that it was actually whipped (I’m guessing with a cream) before being plated and browned. I have to admit, this whipped, foamy cheese was my favorite part of the dish. The cheddar was sharp and spicy — delicious. The asparagus, unfortunately, were somewhat bitter. Granted, it’s the beginning of asparagus season, so maybe I just had a bad batch. Usually I favor smaller stalks, but these were large had had more of a woody texture than I prefer. I ended up just eating a bunch of cheese off the top ;-)

Asparagus Gratinee

The Artisanal Cheese assortment was fabulous. I’ve been slightly disappointed with Disney’s signature cheese plates lately, finding only a couple of cheeses I actually like on many of them. This one was different, however. Both of us loved every single cheese and accompaniment. From left to right, these were the Petit Agour (a mild cheese, somewhat oily); the Bandage Wrapped Cheddar (stronger, great flavor); the Woolrich Goat Brie (delicious! perfect with the honeycomb); and the Smokey Oregon Blue (another one that’s great with the honeycomb; a less pungent blue — good for new cheese lovers). You can see the descriptions in the menu photo below.

Cheese Plate

Next up: the “Poutine” Fries. The quotes are there on the menu, so you know from the beginning that this is the “essence” of Poutine and not an actual recreation of Poutine you’d get in Canada. When we were discussing this dish with our server, she explained it very well: Poutine is a junk food in Canada. It’s served on the bar menu next to the nachos. It’s not meant to be a side item on a signature cuisine menu. So Le Cellier’s doing its best to dress up the dish and make it something a bit more special, but as long as you’re in a fine dining restaurant, it will never be “real” poutine. ;-)

By the way, this is one menu item where you’ll get a completely different dish when you order it on the lunch menu versus the dinner menu. At lunch, you get this:

Le Cellier Lunch Poutine

At dinner, you get this:

Le Cellier Dinner Poutine

While many Canadians will complain that the lunch version has multiple flaws (yellow cheese versus white cheese, melted cheese versus cheese curds, wrong fries, wrong gravy, etc), I think there will be the same number of complaints about the dinner version.

That said, It. Is. Delicious. Probably the best thing I ate all evening. I had to stop myself from ordering another. The Black Diamond Cheddar crumbled on top has so much flavor you’ll think you’ve gone to cheese heaven. And the truffle salt on the fries gives the dish another subtle flavor. The red wine reduction as a gravy is brilliant. Tangy, but still very strong, meaty, and savory.

By the way, the dish comes to the table with a little pot of gravy that the server pours over the “poutine.” It’s not really hot enough to melt the “curds,” but it does pay homage to how the whole poutine thing is supposed to work.

Finally, the Steakhouse Caesar Salad. This is slightly different than the lunch version, and it’s served with pretzel bread croutons. Amazingly, those pretzel bread croutons are what made this dish!

Caesar Salad

On to the entrees! We ordered the mushroom filet, which we were told was being made during the signature dinner with a slightly more flavorful mushroom than is used at lunch. I have to say — the portion size looked much smaller than what we usually get at dinner at Le Cellier (looked more like the lunch portion), and the mushroom risotto was actually less flavorful on this visit than it has been in the past. The entree was still delicious, but I can’t say it was worth the extra $5 to get it at dinner rather than lunch.

Mushroom Filet

By the way, I also ordered a side of mushroom risotto even though it’s not actually listed on the dinner menu as a side item. I wish I’d ordered it with the truffle butter, though — it really needed that flavor.

Side of Mushroom Risotto Even Though Mushroom Risotto Isn't Actually a Side

We also ordered the new Rib-eye steak with Herb-Parmesan potato wedges and Maple Pink Peppercorn butter. Now, this steak looked amazing when it came to the table. I learned at the end of the meal that the current Le Cellier chef came over from Yachtsman Steakhouse about 2 months ago, so it made sense that the Rib-eye very much reminded me of the version I often get at Yachtsman over in the Yacht Club Resort.

A huge portion of butter was rapidly melting on the steak, so I was snapping photos quickly, eagerly awaiting the chance to take a bite!

Rib-eye and parmesan potatoes

Now, I’m not sure if I was not expecting the flavor of the Maple Pink Peppercorn butter, or if it would have been just too darn sweet for anyone else trying it for the first time, but that butter really threw me for a loop. Upon taking my first bite of the steak, I felt like I was eating a breakfast waffle. Granted — it would have been a delicious breakfast waffle, because the combination of butter and Maple flavors on the steak was exactly what I try to create when I mix butter and syrup in those little waffle indentations. But I just wasn’t expecting such a sweet and powerful taste. It really overpowered the steak itself for me.

If I’d been expecting the overwhelming sweetness, it would have been delicious. But as it was, I just couldn’t enjoy the steak with such a strong maple syrup flavor as an accompaniment. It was a real bummer, as the steak looked gorgeous.

The herb-parmesan potato wedges were a decent side item. While the taste was nothing special (and the herb ended up being a bit too strong for me), the texture and cheesy flavors were right on.

Speaking of side items, I also asked our server if we could have an extra side of the Cheddar-Bread Pudding, which is new on the dinner menu as an accompaniment to the Duck entree. (Once again, this isn’t an actual side dish — I just begged my server to bring me a serving.) It just looked too good to pass up! As it turned out, the Cheddar-Bread Pudding was delicious, but I didn’t love the mushy texture. If this had been my only side dish, I could easily rave about it, though. It’s creative and interesting, and the bread packed with cheese and butter looked phenomenal.

Cheddar Bread Pudding

From here, we moved on to dessert! As is the case with so many signature restaurants, the desserts were somewhat boring and pedestrian. I know they try hard, but I can’t help myself — I’m much happier with a big huge bowl of Bananas Foster Bread Pudding, Ice Cream, and Caramel Sauce than I’ll ever be with a trio of tiny chocolate cakes. But, alas. This is what we ordered. The Trio of Chocolate included the Canadian Club Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Sorbet, and Warm Chocolate Almond Cake. We also ordered the Lemon Cheesecake with Citrus Salad and Mandarin Orange Gelee. Incidently, these were the two new dessert menu items. The rest are available for lunch as well as dinner.

The Trio of Chocolate was…fine. Our favorite of the three was the chocolate mousse (all the way to the right in the photo), followed by the sorbet in the middle. The Chocolate Almond Cake was our least favorite, but for no real reason whatsoever. All three were rather indistinct.

Trio of Chocolate...and the snazzy new candle

The Lemon Cheesecake was very hearty, though small. The cheesecake was not overly sweet, but I was sorry to see that the only semblance of lemon was the bit of gel in the “well” at the top of the cake — it was not infused throughout the cake at all. Also, we really could have used a stronger crust on the cheesecake. As it was, there was barely any crust at all. We were longing for some graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.

Lemon Cheesecake

Overall
While I’d book dinner at Le Cellier these days just to have the “Poutine” Fries and the “Poutine” Fries alone, there isn’t much else on the menu that would draw me to pay the prices here. The mushroom filet is just as good at lunchtime, and it’s still one of the best things on the menu as far as I can tell. I can’t justify coming for dinner and spending significantly more on it, though.

I’ll be visiting Le Cellier for lunch from now on until the dinner menu changes significantly. But you can bet I’ll be watching that menu! I know the restaurant might be going through a few tweaks at the moment, but I have faith they’ll pull it together.

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38 Comments

  1. Lisa says:

    While I understand why you ordered the Mushroom Filet, personally I would have preferred it if you had ordered one of the new dishes instead – I’m curious about the vegetarian option and the venison, to name two dishes that seem like more interesting choices. I was really looking forward to this review, but unfortunately, other than finding out about side dishes and the new desserts, this didn’t shed much light on the new menu.

  2. AJ says:

    Lisa — Believe me, I wish we could have ordered everything; our pocketbook just doesn’t extend that far, though! We did order the rib-eye, which was new on the menu, and we ordered the mushroom filet to see if there was any reason to pay the extra money for dinner instead of booking a lunch reservation. Since it’s one of the most-ordered items on the menu, I figured that would be helpful to readers; hopefully I’m right and didn’t waste the trip. :-)

    We were also able to sample some side items and appetizers, which I hope is helpful. We did speak to the manager extensively about the new dishes. He mentioned that the duck and venison dishes aren’t being ordered nearly as much as the steaks (which was predictable), and that the vegetarian option is being very well received.

  3. Kelly says:

    I think my fiance would be a little bit more impressed with that version of poutine. I mean, he’d of course let me know it wasn’t authentic, but all things considered, it’s a dressed up version. At least it’s a LOT closer than the lunch version…and doesn’t use *gasp* yellow cheese!!

    All in all, I’m not rushing to Le Cellier any time soon.

  4. Diane says:

    Great review! I’m not planning on paying those prices anytime soon, but I’m curious: did you have a reservation for your dinner? How long did it take to get? Thanks.

  5. Great review! We scored a same day dinner reservation at Le Cellier last week, and opted to cancel after further consideration. Why? For the very same reasons you listed. We just didn’t see the value in it, and I knew I’d walk away underwhelmed. We will try again for lunch sometime soon…

  6. Jeanine says:

    Actually, what I almost would consider worth a price increase would have been if they had gone back to the menu they had the first time we ate there with the DP–when they had the surf and turf special and the shrimp cocktail came in the cute “carry-out” presentation.

    I think it is worthwhile to know that the filet is smaller now–I haven’t been to Le Cellier for lunch in years, after I took someone there who pronounced the lunch filet size “pediatric.” If that’s the size the dinner one is now, that’s unfortunate.

    Also: I suspect people should enjoy the napkin rings now, because my money is on them getting tired of replacing them and going with folded napkins within around 4 months.

  7. Sarah says:

    After my experiences of eating first a dinner and then a lunch at Le Cellier last fall, the lunch menu won in my book. Of course, now I’ll be sure to book toward the end of the lunch service with the hope of being to order the dinner version of the “Poutine” fries! The lunch version was not very good at all, considering how delicious our burger and sandwich were. Thank you for getting the info regarding the poutine!

  8. Steph says:

    In my opinion, Le Cellier has always been one of the most over-rated restaurants in WDW. Why it’s so hard to get into, I’ll never understand.

  9. Christa says:

    Okay, I’m not feeling so bad about giving up our reservation there.
    However, a whiskey flight? I wish I could get that to go!

  10. Alan says:

    The new prices for the dinner seem to be in line with top notch steak houses you’d find in most cities. But, it seems from AJ’s review that the quality may be not up to those steak houses. If you have a decent butcher shop, making steaks at home is really easy. The side dishes are a bit more work, but not impossible. I would rather go to restaurants that serve things that are just not something I want to tackle at home.

    AJ – the whiskey flight looks intriguing. Canadian whiskey usually is blended and I wonder if the last two are single barrel types. It’s hard to judge scale in the picture but that seems to be a lot of whiskey to knock down before dinner. I hope you sipped it during the dinner.

  11. Sarah (@Duchess_99) says:

    Great review AJ!
    I’ve never eaten at Le Cellier, but have a dinner ADR in May. I think I might try to change that reservation for lunch…I’m not sure this looks worth the inflated price. That cheddar bread pudding sounds delish though!

  12. Angela says:

    Oh heck yes… THAT looks just like real poutine should! It is funny though, what the pavilion really needs is a stand outside selling it (for like $5-$10)… poutine is what I get when its Sunday and I’m in my pajamas and I just want something cheesy and delicious, or Saturday after a night at the bar. But yep, the gravy looks dark and the right consistency and the cheese isn’t fully melted… perfect! The general poutine cheese standard is that if the cheese doesn’t squeak, its not right! I’m planning my wedding right now, and I am having (I kid you not) a late night poutine bar. I asked the hall coordinator if that was crazy to ask for and he said he’s had 3 late night poutine bars at their weddings in the past year :D

    Thanks for the review, we’re thinking about booking an adr here for our honeymoon (we’re going to be using the deluxe dining plan) and this will help make the decision!

  13. Al says:

    We were there in the first week of March without a reservation. Went to the podium in the early afternoon and asked if we could have some cheddar soup to go. We were told that since they are a signature restaurant now they don’t have time for such orders. We were disappointed with the policy and the response.

  14. Janna says:

    Great review, AJ! I love the look of the steakhouse caesar – it looks more like the salad they served years ago (that I loved). Is it served warm?

    The artisanal cheese platter looks yummy, too. Hmmmm…maybe I need a dinner reservation just for cheese and salad. Oh, and “poutine,” of course!

  15. AJ says:

    Kelly — Yeah, that’s how I feel. When I go back, it will be for lunch, and I’ll beg them to make me the dinner poutine.

    Diane — I had a reservation for my dinner that I got about three months prior to visiting WDW for this trip. So the reservation wasn’t made at 180 days by a long shot.

    World of Deej — I think I’ll go back for dinner, but only to see the types of menu changes that are occurring.

    Jeanine — My thoughts exactly on the napkin rings. There’s a reason that other restaurants don’t have them! Love the “pediatric” comment. The filet at dinner is noted on the menu as 8 oz, but I was looking at comparison photos from our dinner visit in October and it sure did seem smaller this time around.

    Sarah — You bet! I’m always on call to eat french fries with cheese and gravy!

    Christa — Indeed! Le Cellier needs a walk-in bar!

    Alan — I do think there are better steakhouses on Disney property, though they may be just as expensive. I didn’t drink all of the whiskey (that would have been quite a night!); not sure on the single barrel (though I at least know what you’re talking about). I’m sure I can dig that info up online :-)

    Sarah — If you already have an ADR, you might want to go and sample. I bet that by May the menu will have changed up a bit based on guest comments and feedback. Would love to hear your experience.

    Angela — So, at a Poutine bar do you have different kinds of poutine, or just one kind?

    Al — That’s been happening more and more often :-( Thanks for the update.

  16. Angela says:

    It will have fries, cheese curds, gravy… (people add them themselves so people who just want fries or fries and gravy can have those), plus toppings like fried mushrooms, bacon etc. When I was in montreal the restaurants we went to all had like 15 different kinds of poutine, but its the same fries, cheese and gravy but with different stuff added in. although theres a fast food french fry chain that at the moment has a butter chicken poutine, and one with red wine reduction, braised beef and mushrooms (still the cheese curds and fries).

  17. Carrie says:

    I tried the Wave’s breakfast buffet and Le Cellier’s Signature menu around the same time you did, so I was interested to see what you thought. Completely agree on Le Cellier. I had high hopes when my ravioli appetizer turned out to be excellent, but the rib eye was SUCH a disappointment. I don’t know if you found this, but the piece of meat they gave me was so fatty it may as well have been prime rib—it was definitely nothing like the rib eye served in our high-end restaurants in LA, and much more expensive!

    Now I gotta go see if we agreed on The Wave…

  18. kirsten says:

    Carrie Ribeye is prime rib! Its the exact piece of meat just cut into steaks!

  19. David says:

    I ate at Le Cellier the very night it switched over to the new menu and had both the Poutine and the Duck entree (which is served over cheddar bread pudding). Fantastic meal, but at a very high price IMO. It still won’t stop me from eating here every time I visit WDW though! :)

  20. Heather says:

    Hi! Thanks for the review! We’ll be having dinner here in about two weeks. We’re looking forward to trying more of the new appetizers on the menu and will probably share an entree. We’re particularly looking forward to the black and blue steak tartar!

  21. Lisa says:

    AJ – thanks for the feedback on the vegetarian options and some of the other options. I get the whole don’t have an unlimited pocketbook thing – but we are all allowed to wish, right?

    I honestly think Yachtsman is a much better steakhouse than Le Cellier – it’s still pricey, but I think you get a much more authentic steakhouse meal (and the service is just top notch).

  22. Galloping Gourmand says:

    Oh how disappointing. Especially the part about the Rib-eye. The fact that you thought you had to expect the overpowering sweetness of the butter said everything you I needed to know. In a meat dish, the protein should be able to stand out. The meat is not a sauce delivery mechanism. A good butter or sauce will never, ever overpower the flavor of a steak, weather it’s unexpected or not. The meat, or really the main ingredient of any dish, must shine through. It needs to be the primary flavor. Trust your first instinct there. If you wanted the strong maple butter flavor you should have had a stick of butter sprinkled with bits of meat, not the other way around.

    It seems like seasoning mistakes happened more than a few times. The herb-Parmesan potato wedges and risotto come to mind without going back and rereading. Honestly, there are better things to do with my money than pay upwards of $40 for poorly seasoned food that should be good enough on it’s own with little meddling.

  23. Denise says:

    I gave up on Le Cellier a number of years ago – the mushroom filet used to be fantastic, when it was stuffed inside with mushrooms. Then it was changed to a filet with a side of mushrooms, and now risotto (which was terribly salty when I had it). It’s been a few years now since I’ve been to Le Cellier, but I’d not go back for dinner. Maybe another lunch someday!

    Denise

  24. Christina says:

    The cheddar bread pudding was totally NOT how I imagined it. I’ll be intrigued to try this on our next trip, if indeed, we do Le Cellier.

  25. Lori says:

    I have a tendency these days to order appetizers and desserts at restaurants as my meal. It seems that I wouldn’t go wrong doing that at the “new” Le Cellier!

  26. Kimberly says:

    I don’t get the whole Le Cellier mystique and your review of the dinner options only pushes me further into avoiding Le Cellier at all costs. I’d love to see them create a quick-service with the cheddar cheese soup, breadsticks, poutine, etc. somewhere nearby though!

  27. robin says:

    man, you lead a very rough, rough life. :P

    as always, stellar review, AJ! i’m hoping to get to WDW before this new baby pops out of me. LOL! ;)

  28. Emma says:

    Was interested in this before but with the price change i don’t think it’s worth it. Think i will just snack around the world when i am there instead.

  29. James (Disneynorth) says:

    Ok, so I have to chime in on a couple of items here….

    Canadian Whiskey–Crown Royal is a great go to Whiskey. Never heard of Pendelton. 40 Creek is one of my top 3 whiskey’s. Apparently it is one of the only Canadian Whiskeys actually made in Canada.

    Poutine–OOOOh this is such a sticking point with me!! The waitress was completely wrong with her comments about it being a “bar” item. We now have a chain solely for Poutine, with multiple options. Even higher end restaurants are making “gourmet” poutine (e.g. Slow braised pulled pork with Gorgonzola and fresh cut fries). There is a big opportunity here for the chef to be creative.

  30. AJ says:

    James (DN) — What do you think about this version of poutine? Also, when can I come to Canada to go to the Poutine chain restaurant?

  31. Tana says:

    Great review – we’ll be dining there in May. I’ll be interested to see what (if any!) changes have been made by then.

  32. James (Disneynorth) says:

    AJ, the new poutine looks like an upgrade to the original version. As mentioned, I think there is an opportunity to experiment with different cheeses and toppings.

    You name the date, and I will personally take you to the Poutine restaurant. :)

  33. Keith says:

    Ate there over spring break and was very disappointed!!! The steak was way over seasoned, you could not even taste the meat at all. The server was agront and very smug (we all ordered steak so nots sure why) I asked to sample a few of there on tap beers and was told no because they are all great and no one has ever not liked one or sent one back. On top of that he was a bad server!!!

    Will never ever go back there!!!

  34. Jon says:

    They only have one beer on tap at Le Cellier – Moosehead Pale Ale, so I’m not sure if you wanted the server to open a few bottles for you to try?? If thats the case, I’m not surprised he said no.

  35. Leah says:

    Hi
    I’m going to disney world in March (18 days and counting!) It’s (one) our family traditions to have a meal at Le Cellier and have loved it every time.
    This time we have the additions of a 4 year old and a 16 month old (with a bigger appetite than the 4 year old….) and my fussy fiance…. i looked at the menu on All Ears and noticed that the creme brulee had gone – I’ve not been able to bring myself to break that news to my sister yet!
    Has anybody got any recent comments on the newer dinner menu items? Especially the pork, how easliy you can ask to leave certain things out of entrees (never needed before as no fussy people last time!) and the deserts. Thanks!

  36. Jo Ann says:

    We recently ate lunch at Le Cellier and we were greatly disappointed. We ordered the mussells and they were very spicey with red pepper. My husband and I had the filet with mushroon risotto and this dish was very salty, we could hardly eat it. My daughter had the pork chop and it was raw in the center and she did not eat it. I had heard such praise that I really was looking forward to eating at this restaurant. The dessert was the only thing that was really good. We did complain to the waiter and he took off the price of our appetizer.

  37. AJ says:

    Jo Ann — So sorry to hear about your bad experience :-( I had another dinner here a couple of weeks ago and loved it. Perhaps inconsistency is the culprit.

  38. Aimee says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog. As far as DDP… When you go to a 2-credit restaurant like this one, I know that you get an entree and dessert. But how does it work when the sides are split out separately with prices? Do you get entree, dessert and one side, or pay for the sides separate? I’m confused…

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