Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: French Regional Lunch

Bonjour! We are taking a tour today of the Culinary Capital of the World — France — as we continue to gear up for the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

Okay…well, that may be a little overkill. But there’s no denying that French food is something special.

food and wine festival logo

And we were very glad to hear that French Regional Lunches — aka Frunches — would return once more as part of the festival’s line up of Special Events last year after taking a hiatus in 2012.

And they are back again in 2014! Woo!!!

As we prepare for this year’s festival to kick off on September 19, let’s sit down to a French Regional Lunch from 2013.

Join me, won’t you?

Atmosphere

They’ve made the entrance door a little less secret-looking, but the entrance to Monsieur Paul is still a bit on the understated side. Head for Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie and L’Artisan des Glaces, but make a sharp left at the awning. And you’ve arrived!

Monsieur Paul Entrance

Monsieur Paul Entrance

Step inside and you’re greeted by a small waiting area and this elegant winding staircase that takes you up to the second-floor restaurant. (There’s also an elevator if you prefer.)

Staircase in lobby leading up to restaurant Monsieur Paul

That Gorgeous Staircase!

Monsieur Paul is normally only open for dinner service, so it’s a real treat to enjoy lunch here in the recently renovated dining room. During the day, the natural light flooding through the uncovered windows lightens up the formal setting considerably. It’s a nice combination.

There is no assigned seating, so arrive early if you have your heart set on a certain area of the restaurant. Tables are set close together, so it pays to be of a social frame of mind. :-) Most of the time, people respect it if you would rather not chat with strangers. Don’t let this aspect of the experience keep you away. (And, honestly, after the fourth glass of wine, nobody’s a stranger anymore.)

Atmosphere and Seating Arrangement

Atmosphere and Seating Arrangement

You’ll notice in the photo above that there is a “host” for the luncheon. That’s because each luncheon is themed to a different region of France, and wines are paired to complement the flavors of each dish. A principle from a winery will guide you through each course and pairing.

And speaking of wine, there will be lots of it. My advice? Pace yourself. ;-)

Table Setting with Wine Glasses

Table Setting with Wine Glasses

I’m excited to show you the menu — let’s get started.

French Regional Lunch at Monsieur Paul

To me, the most interesting part of the French Regional Lunches is that they are just that — about different regions. Each week, they highlight a different region in France. During my luncheon, we were headed to Bordeaux!

Menu for the French Regional Lunch -- Click to Enlarge

Menu for the French Regional Lunch — Click to Enlarge

Our first wine was poured quickly after we were seated. The light-bodied Château Bonnet White Bordeaux was the perfect aperitif wine. It was excellent to sip on its own, but the crisp finish also paired well with our beginning dish, which was very rich.

Chateau Bonnet White Bordeaux

Château Bonnet White Bordeaux

Speaking of, our lunch began with an Amuse Bouche. The creamy dish reminded me of a savory creme brulee, if that makes any sense. No sweetness, but the same rich consistency, with the earthiness of mushrooms.

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

The peppery Arugula on top contrasted nicely with the creamy custard in the small starter. It certainly did its work — we were excited to see what would be next.

Amuse Bouche -- Inside

Amuse Bouche — Inside

Fresh Demi Baguettes arrived to the table next, baked in the ovens of Les Halles below. I’m a big ol’ fan of bread fresh from the oven, and they do it perfectly here.

Fresh Baguette

Fresh Baguette

Our next wine was poured in anticipation of our first course. I thought the Château Bonnet Rosé was the perfect segue from the light white we started with into the heavier dishes that would be coming.

Chateau Bonnet Rose

Château Bonnet Rosé

Our first course, Cassolette d’Escargot Cauderanaise — Escargot Cassolette with Bacon — was a twist on a classic. WhileEscargot is a favorite when dining in the France Pavilion, they were made even more fantastic by the addition of what seemed like metric tons of butter and cream. Totally decadent and completely amazing. Everyone at our table wanted seconds!

Escargot Cassolette

Cassolette d’Escargot Cauderanaise — Escargot Cassolette with Bacon

To prepare us for main course, we received a pour of the next wine — Château Tour de Ségur. Soft and round, this is an excellent, crowd-pleasing wine, and a great pairing for the dish that we were about to enjoy.

Incidentally, the wines we sampled during this lunch were a good foray into French wines for the American wine novice. Not only did they demonstrate excellent variety, but in the case of the Château Bonnet selections, the varietals of the blends are printed on the label. It’s an enjoyable way to learn your French wine regions — read, then taste. :-)

Chateau Tour de Segur Red

Château Tour de Ségur

Our main course was Magret de Canard Rôti, Pommes de Terre Douce, Petite Tourte de Queue de Boeuf — Roasted Duck Breast, Sweet Potato, and Oxtail Pie.

I am a HUGE duck fan, and the Roast Duck was perfectly prepared. The Sweet Potato was simply roasted, and complemented the rich meat well.

Roast Duck Breast

Magret de Canard Rôti, Pommes de Terre Douce, Petite Tourte de Queue de Boeuf — Roasted Duck Breast, Sweet Potato, Oxtail Pie

It seemed a bit odd to me to have what amounted to two main courses side by side. But how could I complain about this? The Oxtail Pie was miniature, edible art.

Oxtail Pie

Oxtail Pie

Peeling back the flaky layers of Puff Pastry revealed a rich stew. This is a specialty of Monsieur Paul’s.

Oxtail Pie -- Inside

Oxtail Pie — Inside

So far, so good.

To lighten things up a bit, we enjoyed a small cheese course next. This, of course, also brought with it another wine pairing. Château Labastide Dauzac Red was another full-bodied red…which I failed to get a photo of. C’est la vie. Things were getting a little hazy at this point, after all. ;-)

Our cheese plate was good, although I might have enjoyed something a little more interesting. Still, the semi-hard Emmental provided a nice counter point to the rich dishes that preceded it.

Cheese Selection -- Emmental

Cheese Selection — Emmental

But I couldn’t wait to sample dessert, which sounded pretty fantastic.

The wine paired with our dessert course, J. Vidal-Fleury, Muscat Beaumes De Venise, offers a rich, honeyed sweetness that isn’t cloying, but matches beautifully to fruit-based desserts.

Chateau La Bastide Dauzac

J. Vidal-Fleury, Muscat Beaumes De Venise

And that was a good thing, because next we were served a beautiful Clafoutis aux Cerises, Sorbet Citron — Cherry Clafoutis with Lemon Sorbet. Pretty, eh?

Cherry Clafoutis with Lemon Sorbet

Clafoutis aux Cerises, Sorbet Citron — Cherry Clafoutis with Lemon Sorbet

I expected it to be somewhat like a cobbler, but it was far more rich and dense than that. In fact, the inside seemed more like Frangipane studded with Sweet Cherries. The tart Lemon Sorbet offered a perfect counterpoint.

Cherry Clafoutis with Lemon Sorbet -- Cross Section

Cherry Clafoutis with Lemon Sorbet — Cross Section

Replete with a beautiful meal and having consumed more wine than I normally do during the course of a month, I was more than ready for a stroll around World Showcase.

Overall

French Regional Lunches still maintain their sparkle. There’s a reason that they continue to be so popular. They are a true celebration of the cuisine and wines that they represent. They embrace and convey the spirit of what the Food and Wine Festival is all about — discovering the flavors of the world amid the magic of Disney. Plus, they’re a great way to spend an enjoyable afternoon with friends!

If you’re up for treating yourself and you have a soft spot for French cuisine, I would definitely give a French Regional Lunch a try. Grab your spot soon, though — these sell out FAST.

Want Even More Information About the 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival?

As always, check out all of our in-depth 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival coverage on our Epcot Food and Wine Festival page!

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Index

2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Booth and Menu Index — MENUS AND FOOD PHOTOS NOW AVAILABLE!
2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Special Events
2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival Low-Cost/Free Seminars and Activities
2014 Eat to the Beat Concert Schedule and Dining Package Information
Epcot Food and Wine Festival Fans Facebook Page
2014 Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend Events
2014 Tower of Terror 10-miler Events
2014 Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic: Menus, Booking Info available!
2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Menus and FOOD PHOTOS
2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Reviews, and 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Reviews
2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Gluten Free Items

How to Book Epcot Food & Wine Festival Events

To book all special events and demonstrations, call 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378) starting July 31. Culinary Demonstrations, Beverage Seminars, Mixology Seminars, and general admission for some special events will be bookable online at www.epcotfoodfestival.com.

Tables in Wonderland members, Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and Golden Oak Residents are eligible for a $2 discount (per person, per event) for beverage and mixology seminars and culinary demos taking place Mon-Thurs during the festival. These members will be able to book seminars and demos July 25th. Discounts are by phone at 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378). Stay tuned to DisneyFoodBlog.com and the Disney Food Blog Newsletter for details.

Chase Disney Visa Cardholders may book select special events, demos, and seminars on July 29th. A limited number of seats will be available for this booking date.

2014 Food and Wine Guide 3D

News! The DFB Guide to the 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival e-Book is now available!

This 250-page guide to the 2014 Festival offers insider tips and advice as well as all of the details you need to know to plan your best Festival visit ever.

Your purchase includes several bonus items as well — including a full daily schedule of events at the Festival and a printable World Showcase Booth Menu Checklist to carry with you as you Eat around the World!

Use code prefoodwine at check-out for a $3 discount!

For more on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, check out our Main 2014 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Page.

Comments

  1. Mark says

    I lived in Europe for 18:years and spent a year in France. These lunches are the real deal. Not crazy about the 35% increase, but still a fair price. We have booked two this year. Hope to see you there.

  2. Tom says

    This is the first year in many that we decided to skip the FR’s due to the hefty price increase from $99 to $135 plus tax (we did two last year). I’m curious as to if this sells out anywhere near as fast as in the past with the hefty price hike.

  3. says

    that’s sound fine,

    the only thing i can be frustrated is…emmental is swiss not french
    and with all the french cheese we have it’s a mess

    why they didn’t put a cantal?

    nevertheless, for someone that never ate french food it’s a good place

    i’ll pass :p

    but i’m sure people from other country don’t go to their pavillons for dining too :)

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