Bistro de Paris
One of Disney World’s “signature” restaurants, Bistro de Paris is a truly elegant getaway from stereotypical theme park dining.
The restaurant is the concept of French chefs Roger Verge, Paul Bocuse, and the late Gaston Lenotre; these three also created concepts for — and originally ran — Chefs de France downstairs from the Bistro and the Boulangerie Patisserie next door. Today, Chef Bocuse’s son keeps an eye on the proceedings here.
Bistro is expensive and high-end, and service is usually excellent. I’ve heard raves about this restaurant, but I’ve also heard that it can be disappointing. My review lands somewhere in the middle.
The entrance to the restaurant can be tough to find! Guests must walk into the France pavilion and all the way around Chefs de France before coming to a small, residential-looking door marked with a small Bistro sign and menu. I can imagine wandering around the pavilion for quite some time if I were looking for this place in the dark!
Once you enter, things become much more…refined. The general feeling of the Bistro lobby is one of richness.
The deep red carpeting, brass fixtures, milk-glass light treatments, and drop-dead gorgeous art nouveau staircase and “chandelier” are breathtaking.
Once you’re led upstairs by your host, it almost feels as though you’ve been invited to dine in an über-wealthy French friend’s home! (Not that I have any über-wealthy French friends; I’m just guessing.) The ceilings are low and this small restaurant definitely feels distinctly residential! You’d never believe there was a boisterous cafe buzzing just below you and a thrill ride or two just across the lagoon outside.
Table settings are refined and elegant, and we’re particularly big fans of the “chef’s coat” napkin folding technique…
Of course, should you choose to dine at Bistro de Paris around 9PM, you’ll quickly be reminded that there is most definitely more than a quiet French neighborhood outside!
Request a window-side table to get a great view of Illuminations, Reflections of Earth, Epcot’s Fireworks show, that happens every evening on the World Showcase Lagoon outside!
Once you’ve been seated, cast members flock to you with food! At least that’s what it felt like!
One cast member visits your table with a basket of bread on her arm and places a small baguette on each plate (very Beauty and the Beast!)…
…and another visits with an amuse bouche, compliments of the chef! Ours was a fabulous blend of melted cheeses and peppers. It felt vaguely Mexican and served as a lovely fondue for the bread.
As always, we jumped right in with appetizers. I sampled the Butternut Squash Soup with cheese puff gourgeres. This was lovely — thick and creamy, and not too “squashy.” You guys know I hate my soup to taste too much of vegetables and not enough of butter and cream.
We also ordered the Sautéed Jumbo Shrimp with parsley and garlic, crab and sesame seed croquettes, and cocktail sauce on the side. These were quite good! A great temperature and not at all rubbery. The croquettes on the side made this almost into a entree in itself — big portions!
For entrees, we chose the beef tenderloin (which we’d heard was wonderful) and the pork tenderloin. Pork is always an iffy proposition in any restaurant — it’s so difficult to cook it well without having it dry out or fall on the side of over- or underdone. But because this was the Bistro, I had faith.
Unfortunately, this particular pork, which happened to be stuffed with mushrooms giving me even more hope that there would be an extra barrier against dryness — didn’t quite hit the mark. Smartly, it was served with a savory morel sauce, which added some juice to the entree. But overdone pork is overdone pork. I wasn’t wowed.
The side dish, however, a truffle pasta gratin, was delicious!
The beef tenderloin, served with a beef Parmentier (!!!) and asparagus was delicious — definitely recommended. We also enjoyed finding out what a Parmentier was! (It’s like a French shepherd’s pie — ground beef and seasonings/sauces coupled with mashed potato.)
Quickly it was time for dessert!
Because I’m daring and oh-so-spontaneous, I ordered the Crepes Duo because I knew we would then be setting things on fire. It included a crepe Suzette flambee and a crepe “en aumoniere,” which apparently means “like a purse.” This one had apples in it.
It was really fun to see the “flambee cart” wheeled out! Another type of fireworks during our evening!
After the show, we got to taste the crepes, which were very light and not too rich. This would be a good dessert if you’ve indulged in very heavy appetizers and entrees.
We also ordered the Moellleux au chocolat noir et amandes, croquant feuilletine — a warm chocolate and almond cake, crispy feuilletine and white chocolate mousse, and praline sauce. Now this one was rich!! Don’t go this route unless you’re ready to be bowled over with chocolate! We loved it.
As I mentioned, Bistro de Paris is expensive. Apps average $13, desserts are $11, and entrees range from $33-42. A three-course menu is available for around $55, but you’ll be limited on what you can order. While the service and attention to detail are definitely there, I’m not positive I’d drop over $75/person here all that often.
We enjoyed our meal, and being able to watch Illuminations from the table was fantastic, but not everything we ordered was tres magnifique, and for that kind of cost, I expect to be a bit more excited about what I bought.
If you’re in Epcot and want an upscale meal, I would recommend this place; but if you have a choice of where you can dine, a different signature restaurant might offer more for your money. As always, this is a review of just one meal; I’ve heard very strong positive reviews of Bistro as well. Looking forward to hearing what YOU have to say in the comments!