Today, we have a real treat for you!
Located in the France Pavilion within Epcot, Monsieur Paul was formerly Bistro de Paris. When the signature restaurant underwent refurbishment last year, it received a new name, honoring the life and legacy of legendary chef and owner Paul Bocuse.
But what else had changed? We were curious as well. And so, armed with a camera, my notebook, and an appetite, I recently made my way through the double doors to bring the story to you.
This is going to be a long one (over 50 photos!!), so settle in for a culinary journey!
As you poke around the France Pavilion and see glasses of wine and glaces for sale, you’ll encounter this sign letting you know of your (less obvious) dining options.
And it’s a good thing! Because unless you know it’s there, it would be pretty easy to pass right by the entrance for Monsieur Paul, which is actually tucked back into the pavilion, wrapped behind the more prominent Les Chefs de France.
With its crisp awning cover and double doors, it blends in as just another part of the authentic themeing in the pavilion — which nearly convinces you that you’re in Paris.
Just like high-end restaurants that are hidden to all but those who have been let in on the secret, you won’t see any flashy signs hanging over the door. Instead, you’ll simply catch a glimpse (if you’re really looking for it) of the name plaques that commemorate the three original founding chefs of Les Chefs de France: Paul Bocuse, the late Gaston LeNôtre, and Roger Vergé. While the three legendary chefs originally oversaw the food outlets here, these days they are run by Jerome Bocuse, Chef Bocuse’s son.
Enter the door and you’ll find a rather unassuming room crowned with a winding staircase. Through the doorway opposite, you’ll see the hustle and bustle of Les Chefs de France Restaurant.
If you have had the pleasure of dining here before, you will notice subtle differences in the decor beginning in the lobby area. While the deep Burgundy color scheme remains the same, gone are the ornately patterned carpet and wallpaper.
There are two ways to access Monsieur Paul’s second floor dining room. The first is this delightful elevator, hidden behind an oversized door. Very reminiscent of the wonderful quirkiness that you find in Parisian buildings, n’est pas?
Your other option is the beautiful, sweeping staircase. I was very relieved to see that the gorgeous art nouveau railing made the refurb cut.
Pause a moment as you begin ascending to take in the scene, and be sure to check out the fascinating picture gallery. There are many photos of the chef’s long and storied career.
As you register the details, you’ll discover the rich history of Paul Bocuse himself, and how it has intertwined with this particular bit of Disney throughout the years.
One of my favorite shots is of Chef Bocuse and Mickey in front of Les Chefs de France, taken for the restaurant’s opening.
The photographs and mementos continue to document accolades, and there are also pictures from the family archives.
Once you reach the dining room, the photos and mementos from Chef Bocuse’s career continue. This offers a more whimsical feel to the dining room than was previously seen. This shot of the famed chef with Remy from Ratatouille is one of my favorites.
And this portrait is placed so that all can see it while walking back out to the stairway.
As you continue to look around the refurbished dining room, the overall feel is similar to Bistro de Paris; but there are subtle differences.
You see lovely decorative touches with a lighter, more modern flair. It may not be so noticeable unless you compare it with photos from the old space. Check out our earlier review to see how things have changed.
I couldn’t stop looking at this “bubble” chandelier!
Banquettes and carpets have a decidedly modern feel. Glassware has been updated as well.
The bubble motif is carried through to the tables, as these cute candles replace the more traditional shaded candlesticks.
Also gone are the ultra formal white tablecloths. They’ve been replaced with paper placemats like you might find in a less formal Parisian bistro.
But cloth napkins, folded into the trademark “chef jacket” design, remain!
With these shots, you can really see the subtle decor changes. The space no longer feels like you’ve timewarped from the 1950s.
Flowing curtains and brass touches have given way to bare windows and white trim. Soft pastels in updated colors break up the space. A few round tables also add interest.
Dark wood and newly upholstered chairs complete the transformation.
And a trip to a newly refurbished restaurant isn’t complete without a visit to the powder room! We always like to be thorough here on DFB. ;-D
And now that you’ve seen the space, it’s time to turn our attention to the food. Brush up on your French, and let’s go!
We received our first glimpse of the Monsieur Paul menu outside (don’t worry — we have close ups for you to read, too, so don’t strain your eyes). I like having the option of seeing what’s available before I commit to a meal!
The emphasis on the menu here are classic Bocuse dishes, created with American ingredients. It’s an interesting twist on French-American fusion, but the vibe is definitely classic French.
The menu items continue to be in French, with the English translation just below each item, lending an air of authenticity.
Here are your Appetizers: (Yes, that IS a $29 soup. More on that later…)
It may be of interest to note that there are no vegetarian options on the menu; however, special dietary needs can be accommodated. We’ve got a great guest review where DFB readers had an incredible off-menu vegetarian meal at Monsieur Paul’s a couple of months ago!
And here are your Entrees:
Guests may choose from the a la carte menu above, or can indulge instead in the prix fixe menu, pictured below. Please note, however, that if you’re using any of the Disney Dining Plans, there may be surcharges. Read the details in our previous post about Monsieur Paul’s menu.
After we placed our orders, our server brought the first taste of our meal to the table — an amuse bouche of tiny Gougères, or little puffed cheese biscuits.
We’d heard stories about amuse being the same type of escargot served at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, so these were a bit disappointing. I love bread and cheese, but these seemed slightly underdone.
Next came bread service, which consisted of a portion of a classic French Baguette (not completely fresh, but not too bad) and a small pot of softened, unsalted Butter.
We were soon onto our appetizers. I couldn’t resist trying the Soupe aux Truffes V.G.E. This dish, more than any other on the menu, has a story.
The first version of it was created by Chef Bocuse for then-President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who held office in France from 1974 until 1981.
At $29 per serving, you had better love truffles to get this!
Under the puff pastry top, it included ginormous slices of super-expensive fungi, along with oxtail and vegetables. I’m obviously not a trained culinary expert, so I’m guessing the “foodies” among us might appreciate this more than I did. To me, it tasted like a beef broth (a good beef broth) with chunks of spongy meat (the oxtail).
The pieces of truffle were massive slices, but the flavor didn’t really come through in my opinion.
We also ordered the Salade au Roquefort. In addition to the beautiful and very large piece of Roquefort cheese that topped the greens, there were also poached, sliced pears.
There was a substitution of pecans for the caramelized walnuts that the menu mentioned, but the salad was still good.
Two dishes were delivered by mistake to our table, so I took the opportunity to snap photos of them for you! We didn’t taste them, however.
But in case you’d like to know what the Salade Gourmande Monsieur Paul or the Soupe de Moules Safranée look like, here you go!
Our entrees arrived shortly after we finished with our starters. I had heard good things about the Filet de Boeuf, so I decided to give it a try.
My beef tenderloin was perfectly cooked, and was served with an ample quantity of Bordelaise, a brown wine sauce that was delicious.
I was a little confused upon arrival by what was on top of the steak, and I had to reference the menu to see what it was. A mushroom crust! This had a strange texture — like pate — and didn’t add a lot to the flavor or “mouth feel” of the dish for me. But the steak itself was very good.
The accompanying Mashed Potatoes arrived at the table about 10 minutes after the steak did (?!?), and were presented as a savory “cappuccino.”
“Cappuccino” referred to the way they were served. No worries — there was no coffee involved here! A layer of thick foam covered the fluffy, whipped potatoes. I couldn’t really distinguish the flavors at play, and I’m not really a big fan of foam. So while I appreciate the inventive approach, I would have preferred my spuds in a less fancy manner.
My friend ordered the Rouget Atlantique, or Red Snapper. This entree definitely took the prize for most beautiful presentation!
The “scales” on the fish are actually created from potatoes, and so it reminded me a bit of the Flying Fish’s Potato-Wrapped Red Snapper. Served on a bed of braised fennel, the flavors of the creamy sauce worked well with the delicate fish and vegetable.
The rosemary sauce here was the clear winner of the night. It was amazing!! We both just wanted a bowl of it after we tried it.
As dinner drew to a close, we began to anticipate desserts — because no way am I eating in a French restaurant and not having a sweet!
There were some lovely, if predictable, choices.
Because we could not decide, we opted for three choices. Ah — anything for you guys!
To begin, we tried the Soufflé Chaud à l’Orange, a warm orange souffle served with a Grand Marnier Sauce.
A classic French choice, the souffle was sweet and moist, and the creamy sauce had just a hint of tart orange flavor. It was also served with a quenelle of vanilla ice cream, which was a nice extra.
Next, we sampled the Millefeuilles aux Fruits Rouge, or Napoleon with Berries. It was constructed rather “sideways” from a traditional Napoleon but was attractive. You guys know how much I love lemon and berries, so this was a nice, refreshing dessert.
A quenelle (they do love their oval ice cream scoops here) of strawberry sorbet completed the dish, which also received high marks.
Finally, it was time to dig into the Crème Caramel. Another multi-component dessert, this one arrived with Custard, a Chocolate Macaron, and Fleur de Sel Caramel Ice Cream.
This was a beautiful dessert. While I’m not normally a huge fan of eggy custard, I loved that there were other desserts on the plate that I could enjoy. I especially loved the macaron with its rich caramel center. The rich ice cream was delightful, too.
There is also a nice selection of Dessert Wines and Digestifs, or after dinner Cognacs and liqueurs. Next time, perhaps!
The Remy Martin VSOP bottle was such a piece of artwork itself that I snapped this photo for you.
And that brought us to the end of another fine meal in Epcot’s France.
A dinner at Bistro de Paris has always been a special evening, and Monsieur Paul continues that tradition. The menu is VERY similar to the old Bistro menu, so if you loved Bistro, you’ll likely enjoy Monsieur Paul as well.
Service, in my opinion, has been a problem for Bistro in the past. Our server was a bit scattered and flighty, but very kind. Our server worked hard to explain at length the background of each dish, which enhanced our enjoyment of the offerings.
Monsieur Paul also continues to offer incredible views of Illuminations from its second floor vantage point — a fact you should consider as you plan your meal times. The windows remain small, however, so be sure to request a window table if you wish to really see the show.
Still, I struggle with whether the food is, for me, worth the cost. While it has a lot of charm, and I don’t mind the changes, I would probably not consider this a “must do” destination every trip simply on the basis of expense. I’d choose Flying Fish, Le Cellier, Jiko, Artist Point, or Yachtsman over Monsieur Paul when it comes to a signature restaurant, most likely.
But if you’re looking for a fancy in-park dining experience, and price is not a factor, I would recommend visiting Monsieur Paul. It’s a restaurant that every Disney food lover should experience at least once.
Is Monsieur Paul one of your favorite dining destinations? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience here.