Review: Les Chefs de France Restaurant in Epcot

I can remember, years and years ago, while visiting Epcot with my parents on one of my family’s “Easter vacations,” we approached the Worldkey kiosk to book a reservation in France for that evening’s meal. All I knew — around age 7 — is that I probably hated French food, and I was 100% ready to dislike this restaurant.

Well, things have apparently changed in my old age. I’ve enjoyed all of the food I’ve ever had in the “real” country of France, and the same goes for anything I’ve had in the Epcot version of the place as well. Especially at Chefs de France.

Atmosphere

Les Chefs de France sits in a quaint corner of Epcot’s World Showcase, just across the bridge from the UK pavilion and the International Gateway.

Les Chefs de France

The restaurant is, aesthetically, one of my very favorites in Walt Disney World. With walls of windows framing a classic French bistro dining room, it’s one of the only restaurants that truly makes me feel as though I’m dining in a foreign location. (I can recall dining in a restaurant in Paris that looked a heck of a lot like this one, in fact!)

Front of Les Chefs de France at Night

Once inside the restaurant, everything is done in dark woods, beige, and [Read more…]

Review: Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

It’s quiet, it’s refined, the food is decent, and it’s one of those “hidden gems” when it comes to seeing the Magic Kingdom fireworks!! What more could you ask for? ;-)

Narcoossee’s boasts prime real estate at the Grand Floridian resort on the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon and has some of the best seafood on Disney World property.

Atmosphere

Getting to Narcoossee’s can be a bit of a trick — maybe that’s why it’s still not all that difficult to get an ADR here!

The restaurant is located at the end of the Grand Floridian transportation boat dock, which means it’s about as far from the front door of the lobby (and the monorail) as you can get! If you wind up taking a boat there, it’ll be easier; but since Narcoossee’s is a signature dining location, you’ll likely be a bit dressed up, so a boat from the theme park might not be the best choice. ;-) Once you arrive at the lobby, ask a Cast Member how to get there. It’s much easier than trying to follow signs or a map.

Narcoossees Sign

Upon arriving at the restaurant, you’ll walk past the Chef’s vegetable and herb garden, which lines each side of the entry sidewalk to the resort. (Oh yeah, remember that Narccoossee’s is outside the main lobby, so bring your ‘brella if [Read more…]

Review: Wilderness Lodge’s Artist Point

Ah, Artist Point. This restaurant and I have had a love-hate relationship, to be sure. On my first visit, I loved it. But after the second visit, I wasn’t chomping at the bit to go back.

On my third visit last December, I was in heaven.

Atmosphere
Artist Point is one of Disney’s lesser-known signature restaurants (read about the dress code here). Located in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, it specializes in cuisine inspired by the American Northwest (think salmon, big game meat, apples, berries, and mushrooms, for starters).

Entry

The high-ceilinged restaurant is understated, decorated with muted earth tones and a mix of light and dark wood. Chunky craftsman-style chandeliers punctuate the dining room, and soaring murals of Pacific Northwest scenes provide a [Read more…]

“The Best Thing I Ever Ate in Disney!”: Appetizers & Sides

We’ve just started a fun new series based on the Food Network’s (very cool) show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Due to some keen suggestions from readers, we’re splitting our series up into different sections: breakfast, appetizers & side dishes, snacks, entrees (lunch & dinner), and desserts & drinks.

Today, we’re taking a look at Appetizers and Side Dishes! I’ve done my favorite brand of informal polling (i.e. posted questions on twitter and facebook ;) ) to find out others’ experiences of the “Best Thing They Ever Ate” as far as appetizers and side dishes at Disney.

Soups

Soups were by far the #1 mentioned appetizer/side when I reached out to facebook and twitter folks for their favorites.

Portobello Soup at Artist Point

  • Most beloved are the soups found at Boma in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. These vary every day, but the varieties specifically mentioned by readers as the Best Thing They Ever Ate! were: Mushroom Soup, Mulligatawny Soup, and Butternut Squash Soup. (Personally, the chicken corn chowder is my favorite!).
  • Of course, you can’t post a series like this without a few votes for Le Cellier Steakhouse‘s famous Cheddar Cheese Soup! This comes heartily recommended by Disney Food Blog readers — and yours truly, of course!
  • The Grand Floridian also racked up a couple of votes from our readers! The cashew cream soup from Victoria and Albert’s comes was noted, as was the cheesy tomato soup at the Grand Floridian Cafe (yum — doesn’t that sound good?!?).
  • Finally, that delicious Mushroom-Soup-That-Doesn’t-Taste-Like-Mushrooms was voted [Read more…]

Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival — First Food Reviews

I finally get to share some food pics and reviews from Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival Center! I’ll be putting together blog posts specifically about merchandise and the Festival Center soon, but I always give the food pics priority, as you know ;-) Here’s how the Festival Food (beer and wine will be discussed separately) is set up, for those of you who might not have been here, yet:

The Festival Center: Here, you can find the “Taste of California” items — eight tapas-sized portions of food representing California, the Festival Center “Wine Seller,” other festival merchandise items, a Stella Artois-hosted “Star Lounge” and Belgian Brewers Collection, and one of the festival seminar locations.

Around Disney’s California Adventure: Throughout DCA, you can find six dining locations offering “festival-inspired” dishes, like “Mangia Meatballs” and Award Weiners!

Eats

Today, I headed to the Festival Center to nosh on several of the “Taste of California” Marketplace items as well as try out the brand-spanking new, still-in-testing-stages, 106-flavor, “PurePour” Coke Machine…which I’ll be telling you all about in the next week or so. Here’s the full list of food items available. These all cost between $3 and $5:

We started out with a selection of Artisinal Cheeses:

This included three extremely mild cheeses — the Cheddar had [Read more…]

More Dishes From California Grill

The Disney Food Blog took you to the California Grill back in April 2009, but we’ve returned since then and we’ve got more pics for you! :)

Located on the top floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the California Grill is one of Orlando’s most outstanding restaurants. It’s well known for sushi, wine, market-specific menus, and that fantastic fireworks show that happens right outside!

The Eats
We began this evening with our customary cheese plate (I can’t pass up a good cheese plate!), and California Grill doesn’t disappoint. The cheeses will change seasonally, and usually range from mild and buttery to a strong blue cheese (my favorite is the Monte Enebro, which you’ll find on other Disney World cheese plates as well). You’ll often find a variety of sources as well, from sheep’s milk to goat’s milk to cow’s milk. The plates also come with several sweet accompaniments. As you know, the honeycomb is my absolute favorite, but on this plate the candied nuts and sweet apples also were delicious.

California Grill Cheese Plate October 09

California Grill Cheese Plate October 09

Cheese Plate Listing -- Click for Larger Version

Cheese Plate Listing -- Click for Larger Version

Also for starters, we wanted to sample the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Pesto, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Basil, which is probably one of the most [Read more…]

7 Underrated Disney World Appetizers (You’ve Gotta Try These!)

We were chatting in my house about some of our favorite Disney World appetizers and realized that we don’t hear people talk about these seven very often! Are they underrated? Simply unknown? Who knows. Either way, I want YOU to know about them, because they’re quite yummy indeed.

1. Citricos: Arancini-Crispy Risotto
This appetizer, with Italian Sausage, Quattro Formaggi, and White Truffle Aïoli, is different. And that’s what I love about it. Fried risotto. Cheese. Sausage. It’s like a little ball of comfort. I love that this is the way I begin my slow, relaxing meals at Citricos.

Citricos Arancini-Crispy Risotto

Citricos Arancini-Crispy Risotto

2. Beaches and Cream: Chili
Simple. Straightforward. The best chili on property. If you disagree, let me know your favorite!

3. Liberty Tree Tavern: Tavern Fried Cheese with Marinara Sauce
You may think these are just cheese sticks. But you’d be wrong. See those little pudgy ones on the side? Curds. Curds! DeeeLISH! There’s a completely different flavor here than your standard chain restaurant cheese sticks; at least WE think so!

Liberty Tree Tavern Fried Cheese

Liberty Tree Tavern Fried Cheese

4. Le Cellier: Spicy Chicken and Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Corn Polenta and Sweet Onion Jam
While patrons (including me!) rave about Le Cellier’s cheddar cheese soup and trio of breadsticks, we were blown away when we tried this chicken and chipotle sausage. The corn polenta adds just the right texture to compliment the sausage. It’s a meal in itself, but don’t forget you’ve still got steak coming!

Le Cellier Spicy Chicken and Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Corn Polenta

Le Cellier Spicy Chicken and Chipotle Sausage with Roasted Corn Polenta

5. Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room: Meat and Cheese Selection for Two
All you have to do is take one look at this beautiful board and you know it’s delicious. Black pudding, Stilton baked into a flaky pastry, sharp Cheddar, mushroom-infused Brie, candied walnuts, gherkin, a little pot of onions — it’s a little bit of everything. Truly, the best “cheese plate” I’ve found in Disney World to date. Pair this with a cup of the potato and leek soup, and you have an unforgettable meal. Thanks to WDWforGrownups.com for the photo!

Rose and Crown Dining Room Cheese and Meat Plate

Rose and Crown Dining Room Cheese and Meat Plate

6. ESPN Club: Patriot Clam Chowder
Liberty Tree Tavern has great clam chowder, too, but as they’re already on the list we wanted to mention our runner-up clam chowder at the ESPN Club! Brimming with clams and potatoes, we always order it with LOTS of oyster crackers…

7. California Grill: Potato Celery Soup
Unfortunately, this is seasonal. But I’m hoping it’s back next Winter! We were skeptical about California Grill until we dipped our soup spoons into this rich, flavorful, creamy soup. I wish words could explain how decadent this stuff is, but, alas, we’ll just have to hope we can fit all of the Disney Food Blog readers into a meet-and-greet at Cali Grill next February. For a hint of the recipe, check our California Grill review post.

California Grill Potato Celery Soup

California Grill Potato Celery Soup

There you have it! Our favorites, so far! Clearly we haven’t tried everything on every menu, so if you’ve got a contender, let me know by posting a comment. Thanks in advance!

Spotlight: Yachtsman Steakhouse

Yachtsman Steakhouse SignYachtsman Steakhouse is one of those Disney Resort restaurants that I didn’t even know was there for several years. Then one day I caught Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel eating steak at some hoity-toity restaurant during the Yacht and Beach Club “Great Hotels” special, and I knew I had to try it!

Restaurant Forum Plaque

Restaurant Forum Plaque

I was lucky enough to do so during Disney’s first free dining stint several years ago. It’s now become a standard in our Disney restaurant rotation whenever we need a special treat or celebration.

Located in the Yacht Club Resort, Yachtsman Steakhouse is a high-end dinner spot with a view of Stormalong Bay. Specializing in delicious grain-fed beef steaks, the restaurant has a glass-walled butchering room where guests can actually see their steaks being prepared!

Butchering Room

Butchering Room

Led into the restaurant past the open kitchen, guests can catch a glimpse of the dessert offerings before being seated in a dining room furnished in sturdy knotty pine, leather, and brass. If you’re lucky enough to be seated in my favorite section – the semi-circular room with plenty of window tables – be sure to take a glance upward at the simple, elegant chandelier above.

Open Kitchen

Open Kitchen

Dining Room

Dining Room

The View From Our Favorite Table

The View From Our Favorite Table

Chandelier

Chandelier

As I said, this restaurant is a permanent fixture on our “fancy places” rotation; and I will say that spots only get on that list when we know we can expect excellent service, fabulous food, and a comfortable atmosphere. We’re picky, and this place fits every one of our guidelines.

That said, there are always little changes and updates being made to the menu. Desserts are tweaked, the cheese plate is rotated, and even steak offerings can be different from time to time (we were sorely missing the boneless rib eye), but we always walk out happy. It’s like a miracle.

This evening, we ordered our dinners and were faced with the first change: weird butter. Usually, Yachtsman brings a basket of gorgeous onion and sourdough rolls along with a HUGE pat of butter topped with sea salt. Today, the butter was in a dish with oil and balsamic vinegar. Butter’s my favorite, so I was a bit concerned; but this stuff was amazing. Yes! Please add weird oil and balsamic vinegar to my butter!

Yachtsman Steakhouse Onion Rolls and Roasted Garlic

Yachtsman Steakhouse Onion Rolls and Roasted Garlic

Sourdough Rolls

Sourdough Rolls

Butter with Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, and Salt

Butter with Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, and Salt

We moved on to salad and my cheese plate. The salad was simple and elegant; the cheese plate was delicious as always. I know I owe you guys a cheese plate blog, which I’ll do soon, but for now, here’s the pic and description of the plate.

Cheese Plate

Cheese Plate

Cheese Plate Descriptions

Cheese Plate Descriptions

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

From there, we enjoyed our entrees (…steak) and extra order of fries (what can I say? We were in the mood for fries!). My steak — the Cowboy Steak — was a bone-in rib-eye. I substituted gratin potatoes for the fried onion strips on the menu.

Cowboy Steak and Potato Gratin with White Diamond Cheddar

Cowboy Steak and Potato Gratin with White Diamond Cheddar

Yachtsman Filet with Mashed Potatoes

Yachtsman Filet with Mashed Potatoes

French Fries

French Fries

At this point, you can imagine we were stuffed, so we skipped dessert. But no worries; I took a shot of the dessert tray for you!

Desserts

Desserts

Here’re the specs! Enjoy!
Yachtsman Info

Dinner menu here. All other menus (including wine and dessert) can be found here.

Cheese Plate Series: Citricos

Citricos Cheese Plate

Citricos Cheese Plate

Ah, another cheese plate post (you can see the first in the series, Narcoossees, here). Let’s stick with the Grand Floridian and head to a restaurant that I truly love and think is one of the best in Walt Disney World.

Citricos has exceptional food and wonderful service. It’s consistent, which we always like. The cheese plate isn’t one of my favorites, unfortunately. There were other appetizers that were just as good, if not better. But the waiter this trip mentioned that they change out their cheese menu often, so perhaps it will improve in the future (this plate is from February 2009).

Cheeses
Lemon Ricotta (Cow’s Milk; upper right hand corner of photo)
Yours truly is NOT a big fan of ricotta, and this was probably my least favorite cheese on the list. I think the lemon taste, along with the texture, was what I least enjoyed. This was the only local cheese on the list and is from central Florida.

Corsu Vecchiu (Sheep’s Milk; lower right-hand corner of photo)
Anything they serve with honey is always going to be my favorite; I’ll just get that out into the open right now. This was the “moderate” cheese on the plate and was undoubtedly our favorite. This is imported from Corsica.

Oregon Blue (Cow’s Milk; lower left-hand corner of photo)
The strongest cheese, as usual, was a blue. From the Rogue Creamery in Oregon, this is an award-winning blue that’s aged for 90 days in Roquefort modeled caves. We enjoyed this–especially with the raisins. It’s one of the weakest blues I’ve had recently.

Citricos Cheeses

Citricos Cheeses