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!
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.)
The color palette in Les Chefs de France tends toward rich neutrals, featuring beige and gold, with accents of burgundy and dark wood. Within the dining room, there are three distinct seating areas.
In the front, there is a sun room, lined with a wall of windows, that is perfect for people watching as you dine.
These are some of our favorite tables, as they offer plenty of light and scenic views of World Showcase and the water across the walkway. Someday I’ll sneak in a solo dinner here and just people watch as things start heating up on the World Showcase in preparation for IllumiNations.
The front sunroom was once patio seating, but was enclosed, presumably to offer a more comfortable place to dine year round. It’s a pity, since outdoor seating would be lovely. However, sweltering while eating soup?…not so much. So I definitely get it. (If only Imagineers could control the weather!)
The interior of the restaurant features comfortable mixed seating, which utilizes banquettes and chairs.
The side of the restaurant, wrapping around to the back, is also an enclosed sunroom and is sunken toward the back. (Or rather, the ground outside rises. Either way, it’s an interesting perspective — both from inside and outside.)
The decor is true to the theme here, and offers the feeling of a vintage Parisian dining spot.
I had to include one more night time shot, just so you can see how truly magical the restaurant is at night. Just beautiful.
But we are back to daytime, and ready to take a look at the menu. Let’s head back inside and see what looks good.
The menu for Les Chefs de France continues to present some classic French fare. After all, there’s a reason those dishes are favorites.
Like most of the World Showcase restaurants, diners can order from the a la carte menu, or they can choose the prix fixe menu and select courses from a list of some of the most popular options.
While the menu is on the small side, lovers of traditional French food will find many of their favorites here. Less adventurous eaters will also find a few American options hidden among the French menu items.
To begin, our server brought us a fresh, crusty Demi-Baguette to enjoy before the rest of our meal came. These are truly fantastic. Even if you don’t have an advance dining reservation scheduled for Les Chefs de France, be sure to grab one from Les Halles around the corner.
And it’s a given that if I’m enjoying a baguette in a French restaurant, there will also be cheese involved.
The Plateau de Fromages de France has changed a bit since our last review. During our last visit, we enjoyed large portions of three different cheeses. This time, we enjoyed smaller (but still bigger than what you get on most Disney cheese plates) portions of five varieties: Brie, Gruyere, bleu, Gouda, and goat cheeses. (You’ll find a very similar cheese plate at Les Halles.)
In other words: Heaven.
They’re served with a few slices of Fruit and Nut Bread and some Walnuts and Grapes. Personally, I really enjoy the cheese with the baguette more than the other accompaniments.
My husband ordered the Salade Maison. It was tossed in a light Vinaigrette, and was very fresh.
We also ordered the Bisque de Homard — Lobster Bisque. It had the smooth, rich texture and beautiful color of a classic bisque, and was garnished with pieces of Lobster. This was a good version of the classic favorite.
Although we had sampled the Escargot at countless Food and Wine Festivals throughout the years (and the dish is back at the France Booth for 2013!), we had never ordered the dish at Les Chefs de France. Deciding there was no time like the present, we took the plunge. I absolutely adore the classic presentation!
The escargots are nestled in the indentations of the plate, then covered with an herbed butter before they’re broiled. They’re then topped with golden toast rounds to soak up all of that wonderful flavor. They were really delicious, and such a fun little luxury!
When it came time to order, we decided to go slightly Americaine for our first option. After all, this was a new menu item that I’d never experienced before!
Steak Hashé Angus is kind of a funny way to say hamburger, since most of the time, it’s really just called hamburger in France. (With an accent, of course.) Still, it’s a fun little way to keep the theme alive.
The burger is definitely served with some French-inspired toppings, however. Mushroom Duxelles (basically, a flavorful chopped mushroom topping or filling), Onion Confit, and Bearnaise — BEARNAISE!!!! — made this a pretty enticing choice.
Served with your choice of Salade ou Frites…guess which one we chose? 🙂 Don’t those frites look glorious?
The meat is a little more well-done than I prefer, but the toppings make this a tasty choice. And that fresh bun is simply gorgeous!
We also decided to have a go at the Crêpe Florentine, another new-to-me menu item, and the only savory crêpe option available.
The thin crêpe basically covers the filling of Chicken, Mushrooms, and Spinach, which are served in a Béchamel Sauce. The dish is covered in Cheese, and is then broiled to a golden brown. The effect is sort of similar to a pot pie, but with a very thin, very cheesy crust.
This looked, in a word, incredible. I would totally have eaten every single bite all by myself.
But what’s a trip to a Parisian bistro without at least one Croque Monsieur at the table? My mom beat me to it and ordered this one.
It’s a substantial affair, piled high with Ham and Cheese, and doused generously with Béchamel Sauce inside, before having more Cheese added to the top. It’s broiled as well. Are you sensing a trend here?
I also could not pass up the opportunity to order one of my most favorite meals in the universe — the Tarte a la Flamme Alsacienne.
So, basically, I had sort of an addiction to these in my Switzerland days.
A (very pretty) flatbread topped with Crème Fraiche (yes please), Onion, and Bacon. Complete poetry.
Unfortunately, this one was a bit too brittle and dry for me. Definitely needed more Creme Fraiche, so I was a little disappointed.
No meal is complete at Les Chefs de France without seeing a rat. No, I’m not kidding.
But ça va! Because it’s that lovable, interactive, animatronic star from Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille, Remy. Serious cuteness. I always love when he comes to the table!
After a delightful visit from the little guy, it was time to turn our attention to dessert.
We looked over the menu and the after-dinner drink options and made our selections.
I have been sampling my way through the fine selection of Disney sorbets lately, and decided to keep that good thing going by ordering the Assiette de Sorbets du Jour, which was garnished with a very puffy Madeleine.
The presentation was beautiful and the dish was delicious and refreshing — the perfect end to a rich lunch.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t stick my spoon in and get a bit of the Profiteroles au Chocolat! Because these are — to quote Robert Palmer — simply irresistible. (See? We’re hip here at DFB. Whatever.)
Cream Puffs are filled with Vanilla Ice Cream and then covered and pooled in THE BEST Chocolate Sauce ANYWHERE. Strawberries and some White Chocolate Shavings provide a pretty contrast. Such an amazing dessert, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why it isn’t on more dessert menus!
Still, there’s something to be said for the perfect execution of a classic.
With its crisp sugar shell and perfectly creamy center (no curdled eggy mess here!), this is practically the poster child for this well-loved custard dessert. I think it belongs in the Crème Brûlée Gallery — don’t you?
Another fantastic lunch at Les Chefs de France is in the books. If I had to choose only one meal to exemplify the experience of eating within Epcot’s World Showcase, this would probably be it. It’s fairly affordable (as Disney standards go), and it has everything: friendly service (notice that I didn’t say the service is necessarily GOOD, but it IS friendly!), reliably good food, and perfect themeing.
If you are on the fence at all about whether or not to book Les Chefs de France, I say go for it. Anyone who has ever wished for a weekend getaway to Paris should enjoy their sojourn in this little corner of it in the States.
Is Les Chefs de France one of your favorite spots for lunch or dinner? Leave us a comment and tell us about your experience!