2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Review: The Chocolate Dinner!

How many times have you said to yourself, “I wish I could eat CHOCOLATE for dinner!!!!” I know. TONS, right? Well the dream has finally come true! And it happened at the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!

This year, a brand new signature dining experience kicked off the festival during opening weekend. The Chocolate Dinner, hosted by Ghirardelli Chocolate, promised to be a sumptuous experience for the discriminating chocolate lover.

The dinner consisted of a reception, followed by six plated courses, presented by the Disney chefs who created them.

Let’s head over to Epcot’s World Showplace Event Pavilion for a look at this decadent event!

Reception

Ever wonder what’s behind those enormous brown doors between the Canada and UK Pavilions within Epcot’s World Showcase? You might, if you’ve never attended an event at the World Showplace Pavilion. But if you look closely at your Epcot map, you’ll see it there.

That was the setting for the evening’s event, and the sign above the beautiful awning announced it in style.

Chocolate Dinner Sign

Pan back a bit, and you can see the main entrance to the building. A reception preceding the plated dinner took place in the World Showplace courtyard, to the left of the main entrance.

World Showplace Entrance to the Chocolate Dinner

As we entered through the massive brown wooden doors, a team of servers greeted us with beverages. Guests could choose from Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Chocolate Martinis, or Sparkling Wine. The drinks disappeared quickly every time the staff came out with another tray of them!

Young's Double Chocolate Stout

Chocolate Martini

While guests sipped on their cocktails, beer, and wine, teams of cast members passed trays of [Read more…]

Review: Les Chefs de France in Epcot’s France Pavilion

Bonjour, Mes Amis! We are heading to the City of Lights today for a luncheon at one of Epcot’s most iconic eateries, Les Chefs de France!

The bistro, located in the France Pavilion, has been a fixture of World Showcase since Epcot’s earliest days. It’s served thousands of meals to Epcot guests, and you’ll still find its tables full if you visit today.

Les Chefs de France has had the happy distinction for me of providing consistently decent food and friendly service — something that can’t always be said about Disney restaurants. Since I’ve had some truly fine meals here, I was ready to head back for lunch with AJ’s Mom and Dad (whom many of you know!).

Atmosphere

The food has been good to great during every visit that I’ve made in recent years to Les Chefs de France — but that’s only part of the story. Because I would be in love with this restaurant based upon looks alone.

Menu and Place Setting

That’s because I personally think that Les Chefs de France represents some excellent restaurant themeing. If it weren’t for the kid in Mickey ears at the next table, it’s very possible that you’d forget you’re actually in Florida.

We visited during the day, but I just couldn’t help but show you this gorgeous view of Les Chefs de France at night.

Front of Les Chefs de France at Night -- My Favorite View!

It reminds me so much of my first trip to Paris that I wanted to share it with you.

And that’s the beauty of this restaurant. If you’ve had the pleasure of a trip to Paris, you will probably have eaten in (or at least seen) a spot that looks Just. Like. This.

Inside Les Chefs de France

Photos of the original “Les Chefs de France” team — Paul Bocuse, Gaston Lenotre, and Roger Vergé — line the walls. These days, Chef Bocuse’s son, Jerome Bocuse, runs the France Pavilion restaurant empire. (Check out the photo of Chef Bocuse on opening day in front of Les Chefs de France that hangs upstairs in Monsieur Paul. You can see it in our review here.)

Decor Featuring Photos of the Founding Chefs

The color palette in Les Chefs de France tends toward [Read more…]

Review: Dinner at Il Mulino New York Trattoria in the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

It’s been a while since we had taken in a dinner at Il Mulino, so let’s head over for some Italian, shall we??

The upscale restaurant has a reputation for serving some of the best Italian food in all of Walt Disney World. And that makes sense, since it is modeled after the critically acclaimed New York restaurant of the same name.

Since we love Italian food, I thought it was time to head back and see if that opinion still held. After all, with the opening of Via Napoli and Tutto Gusto in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion — and the re-opening of Tutto Italia with a new menu — there is suddenly a little more competition.

We headed there on a recent trip with high hopes that it would be just as delicious as ever!

Menu Cover

Atmosphere

The vibe of Il Mulino is New York chic. Rather than feeling like you’re in a corner of Walt Disney World property, it seems like you’re a thousand miles away in a cityscape. Clean, modern lines in the bar and throughout the restaurant hint at the urban feel, while exposed beams and brick warm up the space.

Bar Area

While we visited at a fairly quiet time, the bar can be a very gregarious gathering place with the amount of convention traffic that the Swan and Dolphin Hotels see. If you have the chance to stop for a drink here, I’d definitely recommend it! The bartenders have been friendly and entertaining in my experience.

Bar Seating

Low, comfortable couches offer a nice contrast to traditional bar seating, and make for a cozy gathering place.

Additional Bar Seating

This curious display of food, wine, cooking utensils, and even [Read more…]

Review: L’Artisan des Glaces “Ice Cream Martini” in Epcot’s France

Yesterday, we took you on a little tour of the brand new L’Artisan des Glaces ice cream and sorbet shop in Epcot’s France!

L'Artisan des Glaces in Epcot's France

View from Epcot's L'Artisan des Glaces ice cream shop

Today, it’s time to check out one of the true indulgences offered at this decadent spot: the ice cream martini!

Ice Cream Martini in Epcot's France

L’Artisan des Glaces Ice Cream Martini in Epcot’s France

On the menu at L’Artisan are 16 flavors of ice cream and sorbet, which you can order in cones or in cups.

Current L'Artisan des Glaces Flavors

Sorbets at Epcot's France

But the most decadent item on the menu is the option to top your flavor choice with [Read more…]

First Look! L’Artisan des Glaces Sorbet and Ice Cream Shop in Epcot’s France is Open! See Full Menu and Photos Here!

SO exciting!! Epcot’s France has been undergoing a culinary transformation this year with the opening of Monsieur Paul Restaurant and Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles. And now the final puzzle piece is in place!

L’Artisan des Glaces Sorbet and Ice Cream Shop is now open to the public!

L'Artisan des Glaces is open in Epcot's France!

Completed Epcot France Pavilion!

I love the classic exterior — with a new window!

New window at Epcot's L'Artisan des Glaces

This space, formerly occupied by the old Boulangerie Patisserie, is a perfect location for the new sweet stop. And featuring sixteen icy, delicious flavors (and an extra surprise I’ll mention in a moment), I know it’s going to be an instant hit — especially during the Orlando Summer! Let’s head in and check it out…

Entrance to L'Artisan des Glaces in Epcot's France

The bright, airy shop features pastel colors and old-world structural touches.  I also like the milk jug themeing around the shop!

Inside L'Artisan des Glaces

Milk Bottles Abound!

Milk Jug Themeing at L'Artisan des Glaces

Cones are classic [Read more…]

News! California Grill Menu and Epcot’s France Ice Cream Shop Menu Updates

On my visit to Walt Disney World I got some great updates on the California Grill renovation at Disney’s Contemporary Resort,  and on Epcot’s new L’Artisan des Glaces France Ice Cream Shop opening! And I just couldn’t wait to share them with you!

L’Artisan des Glaces — Epcot’s French Ice Cream Shop Updates

The new ice cream parlor in Epcot’s France pavilion — L’Artisan des Glaces — will open in mid-June! Recently, I spoke with a General Manager of Operations at the France pavilion and found out a few great updates about the menu!!

Ice Cream and Sorbet Flavors
They’ll have 10 ice creams and 6 sorbets available. Varieties will change regularly and be served in either one scoop or two scoops with a choice of a cone or cup.

Flavors will vary and rotate, but standards will include chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, and — this one sounds awesome! – profiterole!

Details and Flavors for Liquor-Topped Ice Creams
Remember, you can also top your ice cream with liquor! If you choose the liquor option, it will be served in the same types of martini glasses that the famous Grand Marnier and Grey Goose slushes are served in at the outside kiosk in France.

Liquor flavors are still being finalized, but will likely include Grand Marnier, Grey Goose vodka, a rum from Martinique, and other options.

California Grill Menu Updates

During an informative conversation with California Grill Chef Brian Piasecki this week, I uncovered these fun updates!

Chef Brian Piasecki at California Grill!

California Grill Opening Date
California Grill is still looking at a “late Summer” opening…likely September. Get ready to make your reservations as booking should be available in the next 4 weeks or so.

New! Omakase Menu
I asked the Chef if he foresaw any Chef’s Counter or Chef’s Table option at Cali Grill in the future. While he said there wouldn’t be a typical Chef’s Table option, California Grill will be offering an Omakase menu at the sushi bar.

“Omakase” means “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese, and that’s exactly what diners will do when ordering this menu! They’ll receive a 12 course, chef-directed meal featuring modern interpretations of Japanese cuisine and sushi, progressing from lighter dishes and flavors to heavier and richer options in later courses.

The menu will change for this meal regularly, and that could mean that you get a completely different meal from night to night. The items will not be available on the regular menu and will only be available for those ordering the Omakase meal.

California Grill Menu Updates
We got a taste of a brand new menu item! The Oak-Fired Three Meat Meatball with [Read more…]

News! Epcot France Ice Cream and Sorbet Shop, L’Artisan des Glaces, Opens in June!

DFB Readers will remember when we broke the news waaaay back in August 2012 that a new ice cream parlor was coming to Epcot’s France! Well now we have even more info on this!

L’Artisan des Glaces will be opening its doors in mid-June. This “artisan ice cream and sorbet shop” will feature 16 flavors of creamy, chilly goodness — and all flavors will be made in-house with fresh ingredients!

Even better — if you’re “Drinking Around the World,” be sure to ask for your sorbet or ice cream with [Read more…]

Review: Tutto Italia in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion

Anytime that I have an opportunity to dine in Epcot’s World Showcase, I grab it!

There are so many wonderful restaurants here, and I’m always lamenting the fact that I haven’t been to one or another in a long time.

When I was in town recently for the New Fantasyland media event, I had some free time and decided that it was the perfect night to pop in to Italy to see how Tutto Italia was faring after its most recent renovation.

So after arranging my Advanced Dining Reservation for 8pm, I headed over to meet my friend for a late dinner amid the beautiful holiday decorations in World Showcase.

Tutto Italia in Epcot's Italy Pavilion

Atmosphere

Tutto Italia and the newly opened Tutto Gusto Wine Bar are situated in the back left corner of the Italy Pavilion (if you’re facing into the pavilion). The restaurant reopened after a renovation in early Summer and now features updated seating and the brand new wine bar next door.

Tutto Italia

Tutto Gusto is a new stop on your Drinking Around the World odyssey, and is definitely worth your time and dollars. You can see my initial impressions of Tutto Gusto in my review.

But on this night, we were headed into Tutto Italia. When the restaurant first reopened I was glad to see that not much had changed. The grand and formal space really feels like it could have been transported from Rome. The gorgeous murals made the cut (though I heard that they almost didn’t stay!).

Italia kept the murals!

And the crystal chandeliers continue to add elegance to the restaurant. Sometimes it’s a bit jarring to see people dressed in Mickey t-shirts amid all this finery, but I’m so glad that Disney has preserved some of the original vision of the World Showcase restaurants.

Italia Chandelier

Seating includes some tiny two tops (is it just me, or do you always kind of feel like you’re eating with the people next to you when you’re sitting at tables this close together?) as well as seating for larger groups and families.

Guests can also dine in a Sunroom or on the new outdoor patio!

Italia Table Seating and the Sunroom beyond

Here’s one of the biggest tables…this one’s for [Read more…]

Review: Le Cellier Steakhouse Signature Dinner

Time to revisit a fan and Disney Food Blog Favorite: Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion!

Signature Dinner, One Year Later

You’ll remember that we visited Le Cellier last March for dinner, just after Le Cellier dinner became a signature meal on the Disney Dining Plan (meaning it now will cost you two table service credits to dine there, rather than one).

At that time, we were focused on whether the menu could really deliver an experience that was significantly different than it had been before, and whether dinner would be worth the much higher prices than you’ll find at lunch. We walked away somewhat let down by the meal — especially disappointing was the ribeye with maple butter, a flavor combo that just seemed all wrong — but we were confident that they would pull it together. We also wondered right along with you if lunch would also become a signature meal, and if dinner would continue to be a signature meal.

Fast forward a year from that first signature dinner! It’s time to see what, if any, evolution has taken place!

Atmosphere

In the year since we last visited, only two real changes have taken place in the dining room during the Signature dinner meal. Remember those snazzy little maple leaf napkin rings that I told you about last year? Those are gone from the tables, as are the table votive candles and their pretty little holders.

If I had to guess why, I would figure that they were so cute, they proved to be irresistible to snag as a souvenir. ;-) But that same upscale, wine cellar feeling with arches, candlelight sconces, deep reds, and dark woods throughout still signal that you are someplace lovely, cozy, and probably surrounded by snow.

Dining Room

As you can see, the lack of table candles and napkin rings makes dinner pretty indistinguishable from the lunch setting.

Seating

Seating

Eats

After we were seated, our server, Gabby, greeted us cheerfully. She was wonderful from the get go! We learned that she was on her second Le Cellier tour with the International Program, and she proved to be helpful and knowledgeable as we made our choices. Of course, we started with a few drinks.

Beer Menu - click image for larger version

First up: the [Read more…]

Dessert Aux Chefs de France

It’s chocolate profiterole week at the food blog! My French may be abysmal, but we get to make another quick visit today to Epcot’s Les Chefs de France with guest poster and photographer extraordinaire, James Chapman, from DisneyfotoBlog.com. Thanks for sharing, James!

Chefs de France (c)FJFuchs

Chefs de France (c)FJFuchs

“Eating a pastry at the Les Chefs de France restaurant in Epcot is an experience and pleasure far beyond simply finishing the dessert at the end of a good meal. The French pâtissier has provided an exceptional dessert menu that offers items ranging from rich chocolate delicacies, to sorbet with elephant ear and fruits, to their signature crème brulée.

Garde Manger Caramelizes Creme Brulee

Garde Manger Caramelizes Creme Brulee

Both my wife and I enjoy dark chocolate, ice cream, and fruit, so we decided to order and share two different desserts, Profiterolles au Chocolat and Assiette de Sorbets du jour et son palmier. Both were excellent, especially on a warm (hot) summer day in July, and we would highly recommend both desserts with a slight emphasis on the Profiterolles au Chocolat for those who really crave a chocolate treat!

Assiette de Sorbets du jour et son palmier

Assiette de Sorbets du jour et son palmier

Profiterolles au Chocolat

Profiterolles au Chocolat

The Garde Manger shown in the photo above plated each dessert expertly, and after watching her caramelize the crème brulée, I knew that there would be many visits to Les Chefs de France in our family’s future! Bon appetit!”