Tuesday, October 25, 2011

(Believe the Hype: Le Cellier Steakhouse)

Ya know how you hear a lot of hype about something, and then it turns out to be kind of overrated? That is not the case with Le Cellier in the Epcot's Canada pavilion. Inspired by the wine cellars of Le Château Frontenac and Fairmont Château Laurier, two of Canada's greatest chateau-style hotels, it's "Where Upscale Dining Happens Down in a Cellar."

As you are dining in a cellar, there are no windows and the majority of the light comes from candles (or what cleverly resembles candles) that are spread all over the restaurant; hanging from the ceiling, in sconces on the wall, and even lined up along a fireplace mantle. The ambiance is romantic to say the least, but children can enjoy the experience, too. The restaurant is very small, one of the largest reasons that it's so hard to get a reservation. Different sections of the restaurant represent different areas of Canada - at the time, it was not obvious to me in what area of Canada we were seated!

Something that you may have heard about Le Cellier is the pretzel bread. Yes, it really is as good as everyone says and no, they definitely don't give you enough! Unfortunately, other breads are served too, (the sourdough is quite good), so savor what you get!

One of Le Cellier's most popular appetizers is their Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup. It's made with Moosehead beer, and served with bacon. It's perfect for a fall or winter visit to "Canada," and the warm, soothing soup really fits in with the cellar atmosphere.

On a family trip to Le Cellier for lunch, my grandpa ordered the New York Strip. Le Cellier prides itself on serving high-quality, corn-fed beef. The steak was served with beautiful Yukon gold potatoes, wilted spinach and a vin rouge reduction. My grandpa is not a man of many words, but his squeaky clean plate said it all. This dish did not disappoint.

My family tends to be fairly predictable in what we order, if our preferred dish is on the menu. For me, it's always nachos. For MOM, it's a Cobb salad. And for Grandma, it's salmon. Salmon is exactly what she ordered. On the current menu, they offer a pan-cooked salmon served with summer beans, roasted tomatoes, pickled onions and apple-wood smoked bacon vinaigrette. I believe her dish to be a variation of this at our time of dining. She absolutely loved the salmon - but had some issues with eating the frisee in the salad. I would have preferred the salad made with a different kind of lettuce.

In my opinion, J and I each got the best dish in the house. Le Cellier's filet mignon is spectacular. It's the perfect portion size for lunch (or any other time, for me), and it's cooked to perfection. Currently, they serve the filet with a mushroom risotto and white truffle and herb butter sauce. At the time of dining, it was served with some of the most delicious mashed potatoes I have ever eaten, and I believe a red wine reduction. Not that it matters; they could probably serve the filet with anything and it would taste amazing! It's definitely the best filet I have had, and probably one of the best dishes throughout all of Walt Disney World.

Now you know that I'm not big on ordering a lot of desserts, but at Le Cellier, it's a must. If you choose anything, choose the Chocolate "Moose!" Chocolate mousse rolled in chocolate cookie crumbs - the antlers are made of maple-leaf shaped sugar cookies and the tongue is another sugar cookie. The nose and eyes are M&M's! I had no clue what we were ordering at the time, and once it came out, what a pleasant surprise it was!

The other dessert at our table was the Chocolate on Chocolate Whiskey Cake. It was very, very good. However, it was not the Chocolate Moose. How do you expect anyone to pay attention to a piece of chocolate cake when there is a moose at the table?

So, to summarize - go to Le Cellier, and remember these things: Pretzel bread, Cheddar Cheese Soup, Filet Mignon, Chocolate Moose. Maybe some Canadian Ice Wine, too. This is the formula for an absolutely perfect meal. Menus may change and you may end up getting a variation on the aforementioned, but I just can't see it going the wrong way. Don't delay - reservations fill quickly! Once you experience Le Cellier, you'll understand why. Let me know when you do, I want to hear all about your experience!

Happy dining!

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