Monsieur Paul is the recently renovated restaurant on the second floor of the France Pavilion, located directly above Les Chefs de France. If memory serves, the restaurant closed last July and reopened in the middle of December, about three months later than expected.
Don’t have a lot of interior pictures…sorry. I’m still nervous about pointing my camera in people’s faces and risking a third strike. A handful of tables overlook World Showcase Lagoon and offer a view of IllumiNations, should the show be scheduled during your dinner. Consider an IllumiNations view as a bonus since it’s likely you’ll be seated elsewhere in the restaurant. You can certainly request a window table upon checking in to the restaurant.
Speaking of which, check-in for the restaurant is located behind Les Chefs de France.
Previously known as Bistro de Paris, the new iteration is less formal and (potentially) more inviting. Gone are the tuxedos and white tablecloths. In are paper placemats and aprons.
The restaurant is small, resulting in difficulty securing a reservation. If this is a restaurant you’re interested in, make sure you reserve a table as early as possible. Unlike Les Chefs downstairs, tables are placed further apart, lending to a more intimate atmosphere. We didn’t feel like we were dining with our neighbors, which is common at Les Chefs.
Fran was nice enough to invite me out to dinner. Occasionally someone will want to meet me. Their usual offer is somewhere between Cosmic Ray’s and The Lunching Pad. Which is fine. But Fran sent over a list of basically every signature restaurant on property and let me have my pick. I was embarrassingly running 30 minutes late and arrived to the amuse bouche already on the table – two light puff pastries topped with cheese. Described as a “gift from the chef,” I’m not sure it’s the direction I would have gone if I was in the kitchen. The puffs were dry and had just a light generic cheese flavor. Something a little more interesting might be a better choice, especially since bread is coming up next.
The bread guy arrived with a basket of bread. He spent some time describing each in a thick French accent. Expecting him to set the basket down at the conclusion of the presentation, I zoned out. He then asked me which one I’d like. Panicking, I asked for a recommendation, which was the wheat roll on the left. As I inquisitively looked over the options, the bread guy offered a second choice should I be in the mood for gluttony. He used fewer words than that, but I ended up with this second piece of braided bread, which was full of roasted tomatoes and cheese. Bread was served alongside real life butter, unlike the packets we’ve seen recently. The bread guy was right about the roll, which was freshly baked and just slightly chewy. The braided bread had a thicker crust and was a lot chewier. Still, it was more interesting than your typical dinner roll.
This was the menu when the restaurant reopened in December:
And this is what it looks like outside the restaurant now:
Simply taping your new menu over the old one may not be the classiest choice, especially for a “signature restaurant.” Not to mention they managed to catch some sort of bug in between the menu and the glass.
While the upscale atmosphere has been toned down, pricing hasn’t. This is still a signature restaurant and pricing is in line with what you’d pay at other signatures, like Le Cellier, Artist Point, or Citricos. Compared to those, I’m not sure the lack of white tablecloths or candles are major deterrents from booking a reservation. It isn’t like they were really fooling anybody. We’re still in Epcot surrounded by flip flops, whiny children, and cell phones.
Fran started with the $29 Maine lobster with sauteed mushrooms, mollet quail egg, and creamy black truffle bouillon. Yes, that is a $29 appetizer. Our server explained that it was prepared in the style of Brittany, which is a coastal region in the north-west corner of France. In fact, the server carefully explained each part of every dish he served, even if it was in a thick accent that was difficult to understand at times. The lobster soaked up the white wine/cognac flavors from the bouillon and had a subtle spice underneath it all. The mushrooms, which recently replaced rice pilaf, also provided a nice sponge for the sauce. Even at $29, the appetizer seemed like a reasonable value considering the large portion of lobster. I was impressed by the presentation.
Being less fancy, I ordered the $14 salad – Serrano ham, white asparagus remoulade, red beets.
I was impressed with the presentation here too with the beets carefully wrapped and placed inside the greens. I’m not sure I can accurately describe the flavor. I don’t even like asparagus that much, but the light creaminess worked so well with the flavors from the vegetables and greens that it “just worked.” Add the flavorful dry-aged ham and and I think you have the best salad I’ve ordered on property. And I’ve pretty much ordered them all. Every bite was delicious. Even though it’s a few more dollars than most appetizer-size-salads, I think the quality justifies the price, even more so than the cheaper options.
Fran ordered the $42 Seared scallops with vegetables, cream of cauliflower and ginger lobster consomme. This dish has also been modified recently. The scallops used to be served over spaghetti with cabbage and a rum cream emulsion that made it look like the scallops were sitting in a bubble bath. The scallops were perfectly cooked and sat in a flavorful broth that tasted more of lobster than cauliflower. Each was two or three bites and “literally” (shudder) melted in the mouth. The vegetables retained a bit of crunch and did their part to add substance to the dish. Fran can probably add an additional comment or two. The scallop I stole from her was as delicious as the lobster that preceded it.
Interested in comparing the steak here to the one I ordered at Les Chefs a few weeks ago, I went with the $43 Grilled beef tenderloin with mushroom crust, mashed potatoes, and Bordelaise sauce. I’m not sure how significant the portion looks from the picture, but it was in the realm of ten ounces – substantial, without being “too much” like the steak over at Flying Fish. It did look a bit naked on the plate, even with the mushroom perched on top.
Half-eaten for your viewing pleasure and to cement my popularity on the DIS for generations to come. The tenderloin was prepared as specified, though it might have been on the rare side of medium, which is better than the done side. The sauce was incredibly rich, to the point where a little went a long way. Along with the mushroom topper, the steak was a bit sweeter than I was expecting, but not at all in a bad way. The steak was tenderer and the quality higher than any other steak I can remember eating on property, including California Grill, Jiko, and Artist Point. I thought it was easily worth an extra $8 compared to what’s served downstairs at Les Chefs, where the meat was merely average quality. For an upcharge around 15%, you really taste a difference in quality.
I thought the only miss of the meal was the side of potatoes, which were served in a “cappuccino style” on the side. I had a very sad childhood (for a number of reasons) and often ate the Banquet brand frozen dinners when Mother was away. Or because I was one of those “picky” kids that only ate chicken nuggets and cheese pizza. The texture reminded me of the potatoes from the Banquet Chicken Nugget meal, where the “butter” kind of pools at the bottom, causing the potatoes to be soggy and cold. I am not sophisticated enough to get any enjoyment out of the specks of truffle on top and that may be my fault. But I didn’t have much use for the potato accompaniment. Considering they’ve changed so many other pieces of the menu in the last several months, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this switched out for something a little different in the future.
This is where things began to get a little strange. Our server, Mathieu, had been excellent throughout the meal, offering details about what was in front of us, offering suggestions, and attending to our needs. Between the two of us, we rarely had any idea what he was saying, but it was charmingly Parisian nonetheless. Once it was time for dessert, the Maitre d’hotel took over. I wasn’t entirely sure why other than perhaps Mathieu had something else going on. A date, perhaps. When the Maitre d’hotel delivered the bill after dinner, he explained that someone in the restaurant had paid for my meal. He mentioned that I was apparently some blogger. At the time, I was not really sure what was going on as I had arrived at dinner late and thought Fran had discussed who she was dining with prior to my arrival and the head waiter was simply teasing me about being such a big deal. I’m pretty sure he only spoke Russian as I also had trouble understanding him. Near the end, I realized he was not talking about Fran. Anyway, Luisa, wherever you are, thank you very much for dinner. And ladies, should you wish to pay, I highly recommend getting that credit card in early 😉 Anyway, in my mind I like to think their response to learning about my presence was similar to the reaction whenever Anton Ego from Ratatouille arrived at a restaurant. Complete and utter fear.
Back to the meal at hand. I ordered the Meringue, vanilla ice cream, Chantilly, raspberry coulis, and sorbet. I thought this was on the disappointing side of things. There was virtually no flavor from anything other than the raspberry sorbet. Two crunchy meringues separated a pedestrian vanilla ice cream in the middle. Presentation is pretty, but it was flavorless for the most part.
Fran is basically a genius and ordered the Le moelleux – Warm chocolate & almond cake with raspberry coulis in the center, hazelnut crust, hazelnut ice cream. It was like a divine chocolate lava cake from science. I had exactly 1.4 bites and couldn’t believe it. So warm. So chocolatey. So rich. So perfect. I think we agreed it was one of the best desserts we’ve had on property, if not the best.
I had not read a lot of positive comments about Monsieur Paul leading up to my meal there. Even Disney Food Blog didn’t like it, which is basically a sign of the apocalypse. But I was impressed. Service was great, even if we had no idea what anyone was saying. Attention to detail seemed to be excellent, minus the sloppy menu outside. The atmosphere was more welcoming than Bistro de Paris. If nothing else, it fits a theme park and its clientele better than the white tablecloth version. And I don’t think you could convince me that the paper placemats are detrimental. If you’re considering Les Chefs for dinner, I’d take a hard look at Monsieur Paul if you’re planning to purchase some of the more expensive entrees downstairs. For a slight upcharge, I think your meal would be a lot more pleasant upstairs. I’ll have a Les Chefs lunch review in the coming days.