Le Cellier Steakhouse is tucked inside Epcot’s Canada pavilion.
Le Cellier Steakhouse
Le Cellier has seen a few changes over the years. Once upon a time, it was a very much in-demand restaurant requiring one Table Service credit on the Disney Dining Plan. These days, while you’ll still typically find it to be quite crowded (the same goes for most Table Service restaurants in World Showcase), it’s now a Signature Restaurant requiring two Table Service credits to dine there at either lunch or dinner. And there’s no longer a less-expensive lunch menu as in days of yore.
Much more recently, it’s gone through another change as well. For those who enjoy keeping up with the whereabouts of Disney Chefs, you may know that Chef Dee Foundoukis (formerly of Kouzzina by Cat Cora and Trattoria al Forno) is now heading up Le Cellier.
So I thought it was high time to head back and see how things are shaping up…
… and check out what’s new and what’s remained the same inside “The Cellar.”
For all the changes I mentioned, the atmosphere at Le Cellier has, of course, remained very much the same over the years. Low-lighting and dark woods do a great job of making you feel as though you’ve completely exited a theme park and entered a genuine chateau.
Tabletop candles (real), and candles on hanging chandeliers (not so much, but a beautiful signature nonetheless) lend to the simultaneously cozy and upscale feel.
The stone archways rimmed with wooden panels and the ceilings decorated with large beams add to the elegant atmosphere.
Everything comes together in such a way that you’re almost tempted to spend some time by the fireplace against the back wall, even if it’s 95 degrees outside.
It’s a beautiful setting indeed. But as always, we came for the food. Let’s see what’s on the menu at Le Cellier these days…
Though the focus at Le Cellier is naturally on the steaks, we’ve got plenty of other things to chat about first. To begin, the bread basket is complimentary at every table and includes the famous Le Cellier pretzel breadsticks, multi-grain rolls, and sourdough rolls.
Butter sprinkled with sea salt and maple sugar is served alongside. Be careful, though, because it’s best to save room for meals at Le Cellier. (I do make an exception for the pretzel bread.)
With regard to cocktails, they offer a full bar menu similar to those found at table service spots throughout Disney World, though they also have a small selection of specialty drinks. I’ve dined here a jazillion times, but I can’t remember ever ordering the Torontopolitan — Chambord and Iceberg Vodka combined with cranberry and orange juices. So here you go!
Not a standout, but there are definitely worse ways to start a meal. And speaking of starting a meal, we just had to grab some appetizers as well. This included a long, steady look at the Poutine menu.
Probably the biggest problem with the Poutine is deciding which one you want! (Though please note that the selections can change with some frequency and may vary on your visit.) Forget making a choice — we got all three. Check out our Poutine Feast, which my friends and I quickly formed into a Poutine Mickey!
Canadian Black Diamond Cheddar sauce and applewood smoked bacon top the Bacon Cheddar Poutine. The end result was certainly rich and delicious, but I have to say that it’s impossible to not compare it to the other selections, which set a very high standard.
Those other selections included the French Onion Poutine, served with Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and french onion gravy. My thinking is that — while each option offers a definite Le Cellier twist on this popular Canadian dish — this one most closely resembles a traditional poutine thanks to the french onion gravy, which lends some incredible flavor without being too heavy.
Still, everyone at the table agreed that the Le Cellier Signature Poutine – topped with Canadian cheddar cheese, black truffle and a red wine reduction — was unbeatable. I’ve had this version several times and it’s always my favorite!
Someone at the table remarked how meaty the flavor was, and my friend wondered if the red wine reduction may be amped up with an au jus. I haven’t ever tasted that flavor profile in these, but I think “meaty” is a good word for the flavor here simply because it’s so robust.
In the end, the only bad choice you can make is not ordering any Poutine. Just get some!
One of the newer appetizers under Chef Foundoukis is the Heirloom Tomatoes, which are presented with Vermont goat feta cheese, arugula pesto, smoked olive oil and pumpkin seeds. The dish is simple and beautiful. The pesto sauce amped up the flavor with smoked olive oil providing unique twist.
But ultimately, when stacked up against something like WINE-COVERED-CHEESE-FRIES… I can’t say the tomatoes got much attention at our table.
At last, it’s time for the main event… our steaks! Though, it should be noted, a vegetarian offering (House-made Potato Cannelloni) and Alaskan Halibut dish round out the menu, along with a rather unexpected (at Le Cellier, anyway) Chicken and Waffles entree.
One of my friends ordered the Angus New York Strip, which is served on a bed of kale and topped off with a nice helping of cabernet butter. It’s a beauty that comes with a Garlic-Herb Rosti on the side.
The meat was well-prepared to her preference and the cabernet butter added some rich, unique flavoring. The Garlic-Herb Rosti, which is basically a shredded potato pancake, was soft on the inside, slightly crisp on the outside, and overall a great addition to the plate.
My other friend tried the Seared Canadian Bison Strip Loin. This one comes with heirloom carrots, pease pudding and truffle béarnaise sauce. Bison is a super lean meat, so you won’t get the marbling and flavor here that you’d expect from a regular steak. She mentioned that the bison tasted a bit gamy and while she didn’t personally mind that, it’s good to know.
The truffle béarnaise sauce is served on the side so you can modify how much you put on your plate, which ended up being a good thing because she also remarked that the béarnaise sauce — while tasty and a good compliment to the meat — was also very salty.
Much to the surprise of… umm, nobody ;), I ordered the Le Cellier Filet Mignon. I just can’t resist it, especially when it’s served with the signature mushroom risotto and truffle-butter sauce. This presentation seems to be more often the case again these days. In the past, Le Cellier changed up the filet a bit more than they had previously — you’ll remember when the filet was served for a while with the Smoked Bacon and Spinach Risotto and Parmesan Butter Sauce, which was truly amazing as well.
But, for mushroom filet purists, we’re back to the standard. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.
And, of course, I asked for some additional truffle-butter sauce…and used it ALL.
Once again, the creamy mushroom risotto did not disappoint and the rich truffle-butter sauce was its usual delicious self. And the filet? Thick, tender, juicy, and prepared nicely to my request (medium rare). And all is well.
Oh, and for those who are interested in that Chicken and Waffles, here’s the deal (and why I couldn’t bring myself to order it): the chicken is roasted, not fried, which, to me, just doesn’t fit the bill for chicken and waffles. The waffles themselves are tiny corn flour waffles, which is cute, but — again — that ain’t chicken and waffles. I did ask them to bring me a sample of the waffles to try:
They tasted a lot like cornbread, but a grittier, not-at-all-sweet cornbread. If they’d been sweet cornbread and the chicken had been fried, I’d have been all over that dish. But after my investigating, I’m glad I didn’t get it.
Now, I know from a LOT of personal experience that you might be tempted to completely stuff yourself with your entree (don’t forget that Poutine!) and overlook dessert, but I am going to strongly suggest that you don’t.
Here’s a little backstory. Back when Le Cellier was a relatively affordable restaurant — especially for lunch — I used to LOVE their desserts, especially the apple crumble with ice wine syrup. Then, when the restaurant when signature, the desserts followed suit. Generally, I’m not a fan of going to signature restaurants and paying top prices for what are often teeny-tiny, ultimately forgettable desserts. On this visit, though, our incredible server told us that she promised we wouldn’t be disappointed. We ordered three selections from the surprisingly diverse dessert menu (yes, the Maple Crème Brûlée is still there), and each was truly substantial.
The Nanaimo Pie, for instance, has had a makeover (thank goodness!!), and it is much improved. This beautifully plated dish is a chocolate hazelnut crust surrounding coconut custard, cream anglaise and a white chocolate garnish that’s just crying to have its picture taken.
The “crust” is more like a thick, rich mousse. And can you really go wrong with chocolate and coconut?
The Camembert Cheesecake is another solid choice. The first bite, however, was unexpected — the sweetness from the vanilla of this double cream cheesecake was rather muted, resulting in a surprising emphasis on the cheese. With each subsequent bite, though, the flavor grew on me and ended up becoming pretty much addictive.
But the standout of the three was the Chocolate Whisky Trifle, and it’s the one to try if you’re looking for something truly different.
The ingredients are layered, starting with a malted milk panna cotta on the bottom (you know how I feel about panna cotta, but this was more custard-y than jello-y) topped in this order by chocolate mousse, caramel popcorn, and a milk chocolate “grid” supporting buttered popcorn gelato. (Okay — possibly some hesitation for some patrons here. Stay with me.).
The whisky caramel sauce is served on the side. Since it comes warm to the table, once poured it causes an immediate melting of the milk chocolate and buttered popcorn gelato into the rest of the dessert, causing a blend of the top ingredients while the panna cotta and mousse remain layered.
Now, please don’t let the presence of caramel popcorn OR the buttered popcorn gelato throw you off here — both primarily provide a barely-there hint of saltiness to complement this quite sweet dessert. What really stands out is the very pronounced flavor of the whisky, nicely balanced by the various sweet elements. If you are not a fan of the taste of alcohol in your desserts, this is NOT the choice for you. But this was a huge hit at the table for those who enjoyed this nothing-subtle-about-it dessert.
Happily full, we stepped back into the sun to enjoy a little more of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Yep. We’re die-hards.
It’s no big secret that I’ve had an love-hate relationship with Le Cellier over the years, specifically since its status change to a Signature Restaurant. Back in the day, it was an easy recommendation for me to offer; however, the increase in price and a series of inconsistent visits gave me pause, and for a while it was no longer the same go-to choice that it had been for me for so long.
My most recent experience, though, from the appetizers to great entrees across the board, to some of the most impressive desserts I had at Disney throughout my entire trip, proved that there is a lot of thought going into every aspect of the meal at Le Cellier these days. Top it all off with our outstanding server providing plenty of knowledge along with a lot of laughs, and I’m happy to report that my most recent visit was definitely a LOVE.
What are your thoughts on Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot? Leave us a comment and tell us about it below!