We return to Epcot to continue on our on-again, off-again tour around World Showcase. This time we stop in one of the more naturally pretty Pavilions. For the sake of authenticity, please insert your own “sorry” after each sentence.
We’ll begin with a fresh review of lunch at Le Cellier (Luh Cell-Yay will get you close) Steakhouse, the signature restaurant that serves largely the same menu all day.
When I started this website something like six years ago now, Luh Cell-Yay was one of, if not the, most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World and one of the most difficult to book a reservation. Disney took advantage of that by moving to a more expensive “signature” experience during dinner hours in May 2011. Shortly after that, the restaurant eliminated the lunch offerings and served the more expensive menu all day.
Prices have gone up 100% over the last six years – in 2010, the Le Cellier Mushroom Filet Mignon was $26.99 and a cup of the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup was $5.49. But, one might argue that quality has also gone up over the years with the menu now featuring all Canadian beef. Looking online, an 8-ounce AAA Tenderloin filet would run you just north of $20. “But can I tell the difference?” you ask. Probably not…at least according to this study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which concluded that consumers had difficulty differentiating between U.S. and Canadian beef of comparable quality grades. But there is perhaps something to say for authenticity.
Reservations remain somewhat limited, though anybody willing to check back from time to time should find availability. Writing this review at 11am on December 11th, there was a reservation for 4 just two hours in the future on that same day that somebody must have canceled. Like with FastPass+ reservations, whoever checks back most often is going to be most likely to find a desirable outcome. So if something is not immediately available, just try searching again, particularly during the day or two leading up to when you’d like to dine. People cancel and change hundreds of reservations every day.
With a modest reduction in popularity, Disney did reintroduce a prix-fixe menu back in early November:
This will set you back an even $50 and could potentially be considered a good value with the price of the soup at $11 and dessert at $10. That leaves “just” $29 for the Beef Tenderloin or other entree. Obviously you’ll come out with significantly less value if you opt for the Root Vegetable Gnocchi, which is $29 on its own. With such negative connotation around airline food, I am surprised that the culinary world hasn’t come up with a better moniker for what is simply a boneless chicken breast with a drumette attached.
This is the first time that I think I’ve seen “lobby beverages” available. I’m pretty sure that I could still get my pinkie up on a $16 glass of wine, but it might be more of a struggle than at something like California Grill. The Savary is a $22 bottle versus $30 on the Coudoulet de Beaucastel (and the red runs $12 more per bottle here at Cellier). Both are of French origin. And I know what you’re thinking, “Josh, does Beaucastel still suffer from an unusually high percentage of brettanomyces?” And the answer is no, current vintages are reportedly free of the yeast.
Better values are perhaps found in the draft beer selection, though I might direct your attention to the St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout.
Unibroue, which is owned by Sapporo, has pretty decent distribution. McAuslan out of Montreal does not and unless you live up north or frequent shops with relatively obscure brews, you may never run into what is one of the better easy-drinking oatmeal stouts available.
Otherwise, one of the flights may be of more interest. La Fin is the only one available at Canada Cart these days, so the Trois Pistoles might make more sense for the sake of variety.
Some wine etc:
The ice wine martinis sound interesting.
According to Disney, Le Cellier is: “Under sweeping stone arches and flickering candle sconces, this sizzling steakhouse recalls the wine cellars of grand château-style hotels like Fairmont Le Château Frontenac and Fairmont Château Laurier.”
For better or worse, the windowless, dimly lit restaurant does a terrific job of transporting you to “the cellar.”
I’ve always thought that the largely open floor plan and closeness of the majority of the tables makes for a less-than-intimate experience. It’s also typically louder than the majority of the signature restaurants located at Disney resorts.
Neither of those things is necessarily a deal breaker – Via Napoli is significantly louder and the table next to you is probably close enough to snatch a slice of your pizza should you put your guard down for even a moment. But if you’re looking for a restaurant where you can stare longingly into your significant other’s eyes as you celebrate not being divorced quite yet, this may not be the best spot. Monsieur Paul may be a better experience if that’s your desired atmosphere. If you don’t mind a short walk or boat ride, Yachtsman at the Yacht Club or Flying Fish at the BoardWalk would offer superior service and a more interesting menu. Someone in the comments will bring up Shula’s. On the other hand, sometimes you don’t want to take the time and a 12-ounce New York Steak is a 12-ounce New York steak. Even if it comes from Canada.
Joanie was nice enough to invite me out to lunch and will otherwise help guide us through our experience.
Two of the major drivers to Le Cellier are the Pretzel Bread and Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup. The pretzel bread, which is poorly pictured here, is light and fluffy with a flavorful interior that is made virtually irresistible with the coarse salt on top. It’s my second favorite of the Disney breads behind the Yachtsman onion roll.
An $11 bowl of the soup flavored with Moosehead Beer and Nueske’s Applewood-smoked Bacon is a “must do” even if you plan to share it among a couple of people as a dip for the pretzel bread. The soup is thick and creamy with a pronounced cheddar flavor that’s further enhanced by the salty meatiness of the bacon and then spiced up just a touch by some Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce before being washed away by the malty properties of the beer. If you’ve never tried it, you might be surprised by just how much cheese is involved.
Joanie went with another crowd pleaser and the most popular entree on the menu in the now-$54 Le Cellier Filet Mignon – AAA Canadian Tenderloin, Mushroom Risotto, Asparagus-Tomato Relish, and Truffle-Butter Sauce. AAA is a touch underneath Prime, a designation that only 2% of beef reaches. But what’s served here is reliably tender, juicy, and flavorful with just a hint of char. The truffle butter adds an earthy decadence with the white wine and heavy cream in the sauce lending themselves nicely to the smooth risotto underneath. The mushrooms help soak up whatever flavors aren’t absorbed by the other components. At eight ounces, it’s a pretty serious portion for beef of this quality.
I ordered an item that had just been added to the menu two days prior in the $50 Le Cellier Signature Coffee Rubbed Bison – Grilled Bison, Roasted Garlic Bread Custard, Red Onion Marmalade, and Roasted Bone Marrow.
It was apparently not signature enough to last longer than six weeks as it’s already been taken off the menu…perhaps there was an issue with sourcing it or contacting Canada to order more when they only have morse code proved to be too taxing for the new crop of H1Bs. Regardless, I thought the coffee rub offered some complex flavors up front – cocoa, brown sugar, chili powder, and espresso before the flavor of the incredibly lean buffalo showed through after biting into it. The astringency of the onion marmalade contrasted really nicely with some of the sweetness of the rub. I am not typically a bone marrow person – they say it tastes”unami” which along with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness make up the five basic tastes. Anyway, I don’t really know what that means, but the bone marrow works like a butter that I thought tasted better with the garlic bread stuffing than the meat. I’m not sure we’re quite in “bone marrow just because we can” territory, but I’m not sure the heavy coffee flavor from the beef was demanding another component.
And as it stands, bone marrow doesn’t appear on the current menu:
Though you can still find it as an appetizer at California Grill or alongside the 16-oz Prime Rib-Eye Steak at Yachtsman, among other opportunities.
If you’re looking to share an entree, you might consider one of the three poutine options. This is a lousy picture of the $10 Le Cellier Signature Poutine – Fresh-cut French Fries, Canadian Cheddar, Truffles, and Red Wine Reduction from a previous meal. The $13 Korean Barbecue version with Fresh-cut French Fries, Braised Short Ribs, Shishito Peppers, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Spicy Aïoli, Sweet Soy, and Pickled Vegetables would be even more hearty. But if each person is ordering their own entree, I think you’re better off enjoying the pretzel bread. The entrees are pretty seriously sized.
The Dessert Menu offers some sweets and some drinks:
Having enjoyed a Nanaimo Bar in Nanaimo, I consider myself to be an expert.
Le Cellier’s version – an $11 Nanaimo Pie – Chocolate-Hazelnut Crust, White Chocolate Bar, and House-made Coconut Ice Cream was a unique take – much less chocolate-y than I’m used to and different than the circular version that the restaurant served as recently as earlier this year. This was otherwise a surprisingly refreshing dessert – the custard in the center was nicely chilled and complemented the crumbly chocolate and hazelnut crust underneath. The coconut ice cream was very light but incredibly flavorful with a natural coconut flavor that went nicely with the bar. And the Le Cellier Steakhouse chocolate topper was a nice touch.
Overall, Le Cellier has never “felt” special to me, but that may be a symptom of being a local visitor that would prefer to dress up in his finest blue striped polo and make a night out of visiting a resort over spending this kind of money on a theme park restaurant in a middling blue striped polo. But if you’re looking for the best food at Epcot, I’m not sure if it’s debatable that this and Monsieur Paul are your best bets. That doesn’t mean that everything that has ever come out of either kitchen has been executed perfectly, but the ingredients, presentations, and attention to detail are on a level above some of the less expensive restaurants. But you’re also going to pay between 35% and 75% more than most other restaurants for the privilege. First time visitors may not want to take the time to visit the BoardWalk area or another nearby resort, but Yachtsman, Shula’s, and Flying Fish would likely be superior meals at a similar price point.
Thanks again to Joanie for the invitation. You never know who you’re going to run into at Canada Stage.
I am probably the only person amused that Le Cellier Steakhouse has more pieces of merchandise (five) brandishing its name than it does steaks on the menu (three):
It’s a really thick, serious magnet. There is also now a tumbler with the same logo.
Some more merchandise:
It’s a mixture of Disney and third-party produced.
Elsewhere in Food and Beverage, you may find a small bar area inside of the store straight ahead.
If for some reason you’re looking for a bottle of beer then this may be a good option.
A refreshing bottle of Molson.
Canada has seen four or five acts since Off Kilter departed a couple of years ago now. Little did we know Les Parfaits Inconnus was just practicing for Disney California Adventure’s Tower of Terror.
When the audience doesn’t want to get within 100 feet of you.
Still better than the lumberjacks.
I really enjoyed their replacement, Bodh’aktan.
They performed for just a few weeks before being replaced by Alberta Falls.
But that was only because they had previous engagements. The band will return from January 4th – 22nd.
I don’t think they’ll be covering Rage Against the Machine at Epcot anytime soon, but this is quite the cover.
And this might be a better example.
That’s what’s going on in Canada.