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Review: Epcot’s 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.

Atmosphere

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.

Entryway Ceiling

Lighting

The deep red carpeting, brass fixtures, milk-glass light treatments, and drop-dead gorgeous art nouveau staircase and “chandelier” are breathtaking.

Stairway

Staircase

Stairway to Foodie Heaven

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.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room

Table settings are refined and elegant, and we’re particularly big fans of the “chef’s coat” napkin folding technique…

Table with a View

Table Setting

Folded Napkin Art

Ambiance!

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!

IllumiNations view

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!

IllumiNations

Fireworks!

Eats

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!)…

Personal Baguette

…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.

Amuse Bouche

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. ;-)

Butternut Squash Soup with cheese puff gourgeres

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!

Sautéed Jumbo Shrimp - with parsley and garlic, crab and sesame seed croquettes, and cocktail sauce

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!

Pork Tenderloin stuffed with mushrooms, pasta gratin

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.)

Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Beef Parmentier

Quickly it was time for dessert!

click on image for larger version

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.

crepe suzette flambee in progress

Crepe Duo

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.

Lava-y Goodness in the warm chocolate and almond cake with praline sauce

Overall

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!

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20 Comments

  1. Christina says:

    Those crepes look really good! Is there a dress code at Bistro or is park attire OK? I would feel strange wearing shorts and a tank top with the white linens and fine dining atmosphere. Thanks for the review, as always!

  2. John B says:

    AJ, I ate at Bistro on April 2 and had the same experience you did — it was very good, but not “tres magnifique!” I had the cheese tray for my app, and it was very disappointing. It seemed like 3 kinds of the same cheese and had chives dusted over each cheese. Chives doesn’t go with every cheese! I also had the pork and found it overdone, but certainly not bad. I found the mac and cheese to be kind of flavorless — I guess I’m used to stronger cheese?

    The creme brulee, however, was outstanding. It was 4 kinds of creme brulee — traditional, rice cream, ice cream, and a flan-type. I was surprised because usually signatures have great apps and entrees, but desserts are kind of bleh. I found Bistro to be the opposite: OK app, good entree, but excellent dessert.

  3. Sara says:

    Oh man that chocolate cake looks awesome! My parents went to Bistro last December, and absolutely loved it (in particular, the butternut squash soup you had as well). I love how the ambiance looks, it definitely looks worth a try, but I would definitely lean more towards trying the beef than the pork now!

  4. Sarah says:

    We like to check the menu here, but we have yet to try it. I see myself going the appetizer route, although they do have a few interesting entrée options.

  5. Ashley W says:

    I have a reservation there in June. I will let you know what we think! Our reservation is at 7pm…do you think if we take our time we can stretch it out to see the 9pm illuminations? We plan on doing wine, appetizers, etc, but wasn’t sure if we would feel rushed by the servers.

  6. Melissa Kramer says:

    I ate there last week for my birthday. I was really looking forward to this meal based on reviews I had read. I thought it was good but I was not blown away. I had the cheese appetizer. This was good but I could have purchased these cheeses at my local store. For my main dish I had the lamb rack. They cut the ribs table side, which was a nice presentation, but the meat was a little fatty and not enough meat. But I’m glad I got to experience it.

  7. Kelly says:

    I absolutely love Bistro…I think it’s fantastic and well worth the cost. I’ll be heading to the World for my first solo trip in September and decided to treat myself, I’m so excited!

  8. Kelly says:

    Oh, it’s also worth noting that it is NOT on the Dining Plan…which means there’s usually very few children, it’s easy to get a reservation…and you’re not rushed.

  9. cliff says:

    we went last december and it was very close to being our best meal (the other contender was jiko). we had the beef and the sea bass. i also tried the escargot, which was very shrimp-like. we had never been there before and thought it truly amazing.

  10. Susan says:

    Thank you for doing this! I am looking forward to our first visit in June. The setting looks lovely enough to almost compensate for a semi-mediocre meal.

  11. Sue VanVleet says:

    Thanks so much for tbe review. You never hear anything about this restaurant, so I’ve always been very curious about it. We rarely eat at signature restaurants because of the cost, but I’m getting the urge to try this one, just because it is a mystery! Thanks for making me even more curious.

  12. EEFoster says:

    The only time I was every truly disappointed at a WDW signature restaurant was at Bistro de Paris. They were out of several menu items I wanted. The items they had were not well prepared or worth the cost. And the waiter’s jacket was dirty. Overall a much less than the magnifique experience we wanted :-(

  13. Kristen says:

    My last trip was in 2007, so I don’t know how things are now. I have eaten in Paul Bocuse’s restaurant outside of Lyon back in 1996, and more recently, at Le Nord, one of Bocuse’s bistros in Lyon in August 2010. The two places are pretty similar to Bistro de Paris and Chefs de France in terms of menu and price.

    I had pretty much the same thing at both Bistro de Paris and Paul Bocuse, which included rack of lamb and a chocolate cake. I felt the experience at EPCOT was replicated at about half the price of the same meal in France. From that point of view, the meal was a bargain.

    I would recommend Bistro de Paris to people who want the experience of dining in France. The entire staff is from France, and since I speak French, I got to speak French with everyone there.

  14. Katie says:

    AJ, I’ve eaten at Bistro and LOVED it. The boyfriend and I got the shrimp to share, he got the beef and I got the lamb, and the creme brulee(s) for dessert. Don’t remember much about the shrimp – so it was probably just “okay.” I thought the lamb was absolutely TO DIE FOR – perfectly medium rare with a lot of flavor and a beautiful presentation. And it was served with some eggplant “caviar” in puff pastry as well as a ratatouille. The creme brulees were awesome too (though I’m a sucker for creme brulee in general)! I felt like I got my money’s worth.

    PS I’m kahcarre on twitter – thanks for your help with my macaron question! If you can’t tell, I adore French food – it was my favorite part of studying abroad in Paris! I miss LaDuree…

  15. We have stayed away from Bistro, as we’ve agreed with the overall theme of your review. It’s good, but not great. And if I’m going to spend close to Victoria & Albert’s prices, I better get a V&A experience…

  16. Shayne says:

    The only time we’ve ever eaten here was long, long ago (in a galaxy far, far away…) on our honeymoon in 1999.

    I loved it back then, and we’ve been wanting to go back. But I fear it won’t live up to my memory of our first meal there, when I was young, in love, and thought anything spoken with a French accent sounded like the best thing ever. :)

    Heck, it may be worth a meal there just so I can try some desserts!

  17. Beth says:

    I just booked Bistro for our Labor Day trip, and after reading all of these mixed reviews, I might cancel. We were just in France and we are planning to do a French Regional Lunch during our October trip…so maybe we should just wait.

  18. Cleo says:

    I think the fireworks view is the reason to go.

  19. Christine says:

    We were just at Bistro Wednesday Dec 28th for a late dinner in order to see and appreciate the Illuminations show from our window. Luckily we were treated to a perfect window-side table, but unfortunately, we were seated 45 minutes after our reservation time. My husband was furious, and this quickly squelched any chance of enjoying the experience of the evening. Regarding the food, our escargot in brioche complementary appetizer was as good as anything I have ever tasted. The potato and mushroom side to my lamb was equally divine, but my lamb was a bit mushy, and less than memorable. I also ordered a goat cheese appetizer, and for $14, I wish I could report the details, but they are already forgotten. We did have a very engaging waiter, and enjoyed conversation with him thoroughly. We thought he should replace the man tending the front desk upon our arrival, who was aloof, and entirely anti-Disney. We never received any explanation for our long wait, any apology, or for that matter… any concern whatsoever that he had a room full of people who were infuriated, yet he could care less. Since he was the first impression we had of the restaurant, it established a bad taste that was hard to overcome, even though our waiter and our food was above average. BTW, the three course fixed menu during this holiday time was $95 per person. We ordered from the standard menu, and with our half bottle of red wine, our total bill for two of us, with tip, was $275. Come prepared!

  20. AJ says:

    Christine — Thank you for the review! I’m so sorry you experienced that wait — there’s nothing worse than a BAD first impression! Looking forward to hearing your experiences at other restaurants!

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