Bonjour from Chefs de France!
Chefs de France
Chefs de France is located, of course, in none other than Epcot’s France Pavilion. If you’ve been reading the DFB for any length of time you already know that France is a must-visit Pavilion when it comes to dining options in the World Showcase, what with Counter Service and snack showstoppers like Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie and L’Artisan des Glaces, as well as signature drinks like the Grand Marnier Orange Slush.
But the longtime favorite we’re visiting today is one of the Pavilion’s two Table Service restaurants (the other being Monsieur Paul, the signature dining option). And “longtime” is definitely the operative word, as Chefs de France has been welcoming guests since the park’s opening.
But that doesn’t mean things have stayed exactly the same over the years. In fact, our recent visit was due to some changes at Chefs de France that we wanted to check out for ourselves.
The change includes a new menu, and we made a midday Advance Dining Reservation to scope out the situation.
And so… Bienvenue à Chefs de France!
A visit to Chefs de France is like stepping into a Paris bistro. Even if you haven’t personally dined there, perhaps you’ve peeked in the huge windows lining the restaurant’s perimeter during a World Showcase stroll to see what’s inside.
A quick glance reveals rich dark woods and elegant lighting fixtures, but further details emerge upon entering.
For instance, the black and white photos on the wall near the entrance are a tribute to the history of Chefs de France, showcasing past and current culinary masters.
Beautiful bottles of French wine and liqueurs serve double duty as further décor throughout the restaurant.
Options for seating include three different dining areas. The main dining room resembles a French bistro.
Gold coloring and antique styling complete the look of all those gorgeous lighting fixtures that are one of the restaurant’s signatures.
Flooring is a mix of detailed tiling and carpet, while seating is comprised largely of tables (though some partial booths are also available).
Hoping to enjoy some people watching while you dine? Then one of the two large sunrooms on the perimeter of the restaurant may be your preference. The hosts and hostesses will try to accommodate seating preferences if they are able, so don’t be afraid to specify which room you prefer!
The front sunroom has a feel all its own, but it’s still well in keeping with the look of the main dining room, with gold and highly detailed elements seen from the ceiling to the floor.
In fact, one of my favorite parts of the sunroom is the gorgeous patterned tiled flooring. (However, just like anywhere else with tiles, it makes for a bit louder experience than the carpeted main room).
The sunrooms offer only tables and chairs, with a mix of round and square tables.
No matter where you sit, table settings are understated, but lovely.
But they’re not entirely without whimsy, thanks to the placemats dotted with chefs hats!
As always, the uniquely refined atmosphere remains much the same at Chefs de France. So now it’s time to turn our attention to those changes we mentioned earlier…
Before we dive into main menu updates, we thought we’d spend a little time exploring the beverage menu. Sparkling, reds, and white wines are available alongside aperitifs and cocktails. You’ll even spot a few imported French sodas on the list, like Orangina and Limonade.
Our server said a favorite among guests is the sparkling wine, so we ordered a glass of Louis Perdrier, Brut.
Though dry, the Brut was pleasantly drinkable thanks to a hint of apple flavor.
We also tried the St-Germain Cocktail, a combination of St. Germaine liqueur, sparkling wine and Perrier. It is served with the St. Germaine and sparkling wine mixed together in a separate carafe with the Perrier and lemon in a glass for self-pouring.
It’s probably no major surprise given this time of year that it was VERY hot outside on the day of our visit, so this light, bubbly cocktail was a refreshing treat. The unique elderberry flavor and sparkling water was a delicious combination.
One of the signature drinks for the restaurant was another favorite of our server’s, the Cocktail des Chefs: Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine and black currant. Essentially a Kir Royale.
This sparkling wine was fuller bodied in comparison to the Louis Perdrier and the black currant helped bring out the flavors even more. But you can see by the coloring that it wasn’t at all heavy; just really flavorful.
Now onto the main show — and the reason for our visit! The lunch and dinner menus have been combined into one list of all-day offerings (just click the image below to enlarge).
Here is a look at the menu for Les Kiddos.
Back to the main menu… we were happy to see that some of our favorite Preludes and Appetizers made the transition (like the classic French Onion Soup and Lobster Bisque). But we also took note of some new additions, including the Tartare de Saumon Legerement Fume – Salmon Tartare.
This lovely plate is a serving of fresh, lightly smoked salmon tartare with plenty of seasoning mixed in.
It’s served atop cucumber dill and topped with raw onion and green chives to add some nice crunch.
Also on the dish is a tasty honey mustard with just a dot of tomato sauce.
A favorite is served on the side; a beautiful and fresh Brioche Bun.
We couldn’t get over how fresh and airy the bun was. The Tartare comes with only one, but our whole table agreed that each of us could’ve happily eaten one by ourselves!
One of our favorite sections of the menu, Les Tartes des Chefs, also remained part of the listing. In previous visits the A la Flamme Alsacienne has been our go-to, but we decided to give the new addition a try: the Au Saumon Fume.
This stunner of a flatbread is made with smoked salmon, creme fraiche, and onions. Just like the tartare, the salmon was wonderfully seasoned and flavored.
The crust has been a hit or miss on pass visits, so I was pleased to see how beautifully baked this one was.
Of course, no DFB visit to Chefs de France would be complete without a cheese plate! And the Plateau de Fromages de France is always a win.
The plating has received a slight layout update, but the fortunately the flavors are all the same. It’s comprised of five varieties of entirely imported cheeses, including a large square of Gruyere Swiss that is a terrific combination of sweet and salty.
The soft goat cheese and port salut were both wonderfully creamy, while also slightly tangy.
A lovely and rich brie rounded out the soft options on the plate.
The wedge of bleu cheese was — quite surprisingly — not very potent, but tasty nonetheless.
A serving of red grapes and walnuts and a few slices of raisin and walnut bread completed the plate.
Still, my favorite bread remains the fresh Baguette that is served on every table no matter what you order!
The baguettes are baked throughout the day in the France Pavilion so with every visit you can expect them to be crispy, soft and delicious!
As we explore the entrees, noticeably missing from the new all-day menu were more lunch-friendly options like the Croque Monsieur, Crêpe Florentine and the Steak Hashé Angus (hamburger). So I think it’s safe to say that it certainly resembles more of a dinner menu now.
They still do offer the Prix Fixe menu, which features three courses from a limited selection (albeit at an all-day price of $39.99). But since that primarily includes familiar offerings like the Gratin de Macaroni, we were more concerned with trying some different items. We started with what seems like the closest replacement of the burger: the Steak Frites, Beurre Maitre d’Hotel.
This cut of grilled flat iron steak was beautifully seasoned and cooked, topped off with a delicious dollop of lemon and parsley butter. Everything together resulted in a great steak heavy with rich flavor.
And I loved the heaping pile of fries — pommes frites — that came along with it! As usual, they made for a terrific side. This was one of my go-to meals when I lived in Switzerland, so I’m happy that I can recommend it here.
Another addition to the all-day menu is the Filet de Boeuf Grille.
This grilled tenderloin is served on top of a green peppercorn sauce that paired terrifically with the seasoning on the beef.
The texture was nicely tender, but not too heavy.
A serving of fresh green beans and potato au gratin made up the sides.
The potato au gratin, by the way, is made with the same creme fraiche as the flatbread. I could eat a full plate of this by itself!
The Poulet Fermier a la Lyonnasise is an updated chicken dish that has joined the scene since our last visit.
Creamy mashed potatoes and seasoned broccoli heads are served on the side.
The generous size of the chicken is a treat for the eyes, but the fragrance of the dish was absolutely incredible. Everyone at the table agreed that the roasted chicken was remarkably soft and tender.
The Lyon influence in this dish is experienced in the tomato and vinegar sauce. I wasn’t sure what I would think at first, but this ended up being my favorite dish of the day — and when the competition includes two really good steaks, that’s saying something.
By this point, we were getting seriously stuffed… but how could we not say “Oui!” to at least one dessert?
Thankfully, the Profiteroles au Chocolat are still available along with classics like the Creme Brulee. Ultimately, though, we decided on the Tarte aux Pommes, served with caramel and a small scoop of almond cream.
This gorgeous apple tart is the centerpiece, with its flaky, buttery crust.
Even though the dish was baked, the thinly sliced half of apple remained flavorful and juicy.
Apples, caramel and cream… it’s a lovely way to end another good meal at Chefs de France.
Judging this latest meal purely on its own merit, I’d have to say that Chefs de France has done it again in providing another very well prepared, rich and flavorful meal… all in one of my favorite settings in World Showcase.
In many ways, though, this is exactly why I mourn the loss of specific lunch options; even with dishes that were all standouts, I understand how this change (specifically in regards to pricing differences more than the dishes themselves) may discourage guests from trying what is one of the consistently best restaurants not just in Epcot, but in Disney World. Right now, Chefs de France is still worth the cost, but we’ll be watching to be sure that stays the case.
Fortunately there is no shortage of wonderful cuisine in the France Pavilion, and Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie continues to carry a great selection of lunch-friendly items including some terrific and authentic French sandwiches and smaller plates. In regards to Table Service options, though, we will certainly be keeping an eye out for other restaurants following this same trend.
Did your favorite Chefs de France item make it on to the all-day menu? Let us know in the comments below!