Thursday, August 18, 2011

(Bon Appetit: Bistro de Paris)

Last May, my family helped to celebrate my birthday at a restaurant I had long been wanting to try; Bistro de Paris. Located in France of Epcot's World Showcase, this dining spot prides itself on its extensive wine list and innovative french cuisine. The brainchild of a trio of chefs, Bistro de Paris is located on the second floor in the French pavilion, directly above Chefs de France. The three chefs; Roger Verge, Paul Bocuse, and the late Gaston Lenotre are responsible for both restaurants, as well as the well-loved Boulangerie Patisserie.

The somewhat-hidden entrance to Bistro de Paris

the spiral staircase leads to the upstairs dining room.

Finding the entrance to the Bistro can be somewhat of a challenge. Located on the opposite side of the building, be sure to look for the sign to the entrance. Upon entering, I imagine this is what an elegant home in Paris looks like. A hostess will take your name, and when your table is ready, will lead you up a gorgeous spiral staircase. If you look to your left, you can see guests enjoying their meals at Les Chefs de France. Please note that there is also an elevator for guests who would rather not use the stairs.

Surprise hors d'oeuvre! 

The experience with our waiter was very pleasant. Upon being seated, we were offered ice water, and perused the restaurant's extensive wine list. We were also presented with a complimentary hors d'oeuvre, which as I understand changes regularly. Ours consisted of a cheesy french onion soup of sorts. It was yummy, and a nice surprise to start our meal. We were also offered bread, and I love the way that they presented it. Rather than placing a basket of bread on your table, a waiter comes around and asks if you would like a piece, and serves it to you from a wicker basket. This is a terrific idea, since you won't be filling yourself up on too much bread - I promise you won't leave hungry!

Escargot Cassolette & Jumbo Sauteed Shrimp

There are two possible ways to order your meal here; you can do a three-course menu, or order a la carte. Everyone at my table opted for the 3-course menu except for me. Currently, this option runs $54 per person, or $89 per person with wine pairings. J choose the Escargot Cassolette for his first course, while I opted to skip the appetizer. MOM choose the Jumbo Sauteed Shrimp, which was served with crab & sesame seed croquettes. Both were out-of-this-world delicious. Don't be afraid to try escargot - it's cooked in a delicious, creamy garlic sauce that tastes so good you just might forget that you're eating snails!

Grilled Beef Tenderloin, $39

Now for the main course. Mom & P ordered the Pork Tenderloin. I did not get the chance to try it, but I trust their opinion when they said it was very good. J ordered the Grilled Beef Tenderloin from his 3-course menu options, while I ordered the same from the regular menu. When our meals came, I noticed that my serving was definitely larger than his, and was better-presented as well! His tenderloin came on a standard white plate, while mine was served on a gorgeous dish (see above!) I am quite sure that each dish tasted the same, however. The tenderloin was generously served with a delicious peppercorn sauce, along with perfectly cooked asparagus and a beef parmentier. I order the tenderloin medium and it was cooked perfectly. I am sorry to say though, that you can get a much better serving of beef over in the Canada pavilion at Le Cellier. And what on Earth is a beef parmentier, do you ask? I'm so glad you did. It's the thing that made me give up meat (well, sort of). Thinking it was a delicious looking pineapple of some sort (why a pineapple in a French restaurant? Momentary lapse of judgement), I dug right in. Imagine my surprise when I bit into a potato, filled with...more meat. My ignorance going into it may be to blame, but I did not like this dish. The meat had a strange, well...meaty flavor. But not in a good way. I had sort of lost my appetite, not to mention the fact that I was getting obscenely full. For all you meat lovers out there, no worries. J devoured his meal, weird potato meat side dish and all.

MOM & her Creme Brulee

Now for the best part of any meal...dessert! MOM ordered the Vanilla Creme Brulee, J the Warm Chocolate & Almond Cake (these are two selections available in the prix fixe menu). Off of the regular menu, I ordered Warm & Grand Marnier Souffle, assuming you just can't get more French than that! Having experienced some amazing souffles on the Disney Cruise Line, I figured it was a no-brainer. The waiter warned me that it may take about 15 minutes for my dessert to arrive, and I agreed that it would be alright. (Speaking of the Disney Cruise Line, Palo asks if you'd like their famous souffle during your main course so that it's ready for you come dessert time. This is a much better idea).

Warm Chocolate & Almond Cake

While everyone else ate their desserts, I waited. And waited. ...And waited. MOM's Creme Brulee was absolutely fantastic, J's chocolate cake, a dream. Looking back, I should have ordered what he did - it's easily the best thing on the menu. Served with white chocolate mousse and praline sauce, it's dessert heaven. The creme brulee is worth giving a shot as well, made with carmelized rice pudding and upside down caramel cream, served with ice cream.

The Warm & Grand Marnier Souffles, $11 + at least 20 extra minutes.

Once everyone had basically finished their desserts, mine finally arrived. I'm sorry to say, not worth the wait. Not only did I have to wait almost 30 minutes for the souffle, but it was poorly undercooked. The insides were somewhat akin to scrambled eggs...not an appetizing dessert. My sub-par meal ended with an even more sub-par dessert, it was no bueno. However, they did make me a lovely Happy Birthday plate, complete with some delicious fresh fruit, and a candle with which to make a wish!

How nice!

One last thing I almost forgot about! We did have a special moment during our time at the Bistro; we saw Illuminations from the window of the restaurant! It was quite an experience to witness the spectacular show from the comfort of your own dining table.

So, would I recommend the Bistro de Paris? Ehhh...probably not. I'm sorry to all of those out there who adore this place. It just didn't work for me. The service was friendly and prompt. The wine and appetizers were great. My meal and dessert were a complete and utter disappointment. Perhaps if I had ordered differently my opinion wouldn't be so harsh. My fellow diners' desserts were fantastic, and they certainly didn't have many complaints (except for how full they still felt the next morning). Please also take this with a grain of salt, as I am not a meat lover. At the time I thought I was, but since that particular meal, I have sort of avoided it. It was an expensive meal (I believe the bill was upwards of $400 for 4 of us), and I just didn't come away raving about anything.

J makes leftovers look cool.

Outfitted in formal decor, this is certainly not the place to wear your typical theme park clothes. There is a dress code for this restaurant - no swimwear, t-shirts or cutoffs allowed. Observe, a handsome young man above, models the appropriate dining attire, and also the best way to carry leftovers :) Please note that there is no children's menu at this restaurant. While children are welcome here, the atmosphere is much more suited for romance (ie, leave the kids with the babysitter).

By all means, please give this place a try and prove me wrong! I would love to hear your opinions on the dining experience here. If you're making a reservation, try for around 830pm or so - it's worth waiting to see Illuminations from the restaurant.

Happy Dining!

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