Our coverage of the 2019 edition of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival continues with a look at the relatively-economically-priced Parisian Breakfast in the France Pavilion, which is hosted at (Les) Chefs de France. You may remember that the website has reviewed more than 250 items available from the Food and Wine Festival Marketplaces with an index of the reviews located here.
The Parisian Breakfast is scheduled on Saturdays during the Festival, officially from 9:15am to 10:45am. You’ll have the easiest time getting over to the France Pavilion early by entering through the International Gateway entrance in between the France and UK Pavilions. We used Uber/Lyft to drop us off at the Beach Club Resort around 8:40am and then walked over to the International Gateway. Guests staying at the Beach Club/Yacht Club/BoardWalk Inn/Swan/Dolphin can easily walk to the International Gateway from their resorts. The Disney Skyliner also (ideally) drops off guests transferring from Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, Riviera, and Hollywood Studios right at the International Gateway. From elsewhere, those using Disney transportation would need to take the bus to Hollywood Studios from their resort and then walk or use the Skyliner to ride over to the International Gateway from there. I do just that in this post, in case you’re wondering what the Skyliner process from the Studios to Epcot looks like in practice.
Of course, you can enter from the main entrance as well – be sure to head over to the breakfast reservation line to be let in early enough that you can walk all the way back here by 9am. As usual, guests were released from the holding area at the International Gateway around 8:50am to head to the attraction of their choice. Those headed to breakfast in France waited in front of the bridge over to the Pavilion until right around 9am, at which point we were released towards Chefs de France. Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, the French quick service bakery, opens daily with the Park. While you may not be able to enjoy the Food and Wine Festival Parisian Breakfast outside of Saturdays during Festival season, you can put together a similar breakfast at the Boulangerie on any other date over the course of the year.
Here’s how Disney describes the Parisian Breakfast:
With tax and gratuity, the event costs $47.93 per person, which makes it one of the least-expensive special events at the Festival. Somehow, events like the Hibachi Experience at Teppan Edo cost more than two hundred dollars per person, after tax. This is less than 20% of that.
The Parisian Breakfast is hosted at Chefs de France, which is not typically open during breakfast. One downside to the event is how crowded it is in the main dining room – every seat is filled and then some. Parties of one or two may also be seated with other parties at community tables that seat six. Erin and I were seated at a two-top table that was “literally” an inch away from another two-top next to us and maybe two inches away from a four-top on the other side. Personally, I don’t necessarily mind the close quarters; it’s always fun to hear about what people have going on during the Festival, but we were so jam-packed into the restaurant that just getting up and angling around people to visit the buffet could be a bit of a chore. I don’t think the poor woman sitting next to us could have gotten up if she tried before a couple of people left around 10:30am. On the other hand, those seated away from the main dining area had more room to spread out, but they were also closer to the hustle and bustle of the buffet area. In the picture above, we were seated near the window in the far left corner, and the sun was beating down with considerable strength during most of the meal, creating some amount of discomfort.
This was our second year in a row doing the Parisian Breakfast, and this year, we requested a table further inside the restaurant, only to be told that the tables had already been assigned. This wasn’t a huge deal, but I doubt there were too many people in the room who didn’t wish it was a couple of degrees cooler.
We’ll start off with the most important aspect of the Parisian Breakfast – mimosas are included and unlimited. They’re also poured fresh and mixed in your glass at the table. The gentleman to my right requested a glass of sparkling wine without the juice and was accommodated without issue. I like a little bit of orange juice in my mimosas “for color,” and must have drank six or seven perfectly-prepared glasses over the course of the 90-minute experience. At the Boulangerie Patisserie, mimosas cost $7.50 each and are about this large. So if you commit to drinking three over the course of the breakfast, you could say that you’ve already consumed half of the value of the event. Last year, I don’t think my glass was ever empty for more than a minute, and more often than not, the server brought the bottle around to top everyone off. This year, our server was a little stingier and we had to ask about a refill several times. He could have just left the bottle and made it easier on all of us, but that’s probably not very French.
Somewhat interestingly perhaps, “Veuve,” in French, means “widow,” so the Veuve in something like Veuve Clicquot refers to Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, who was widowed at the age of 27 after being married to François Clicquot for seven years. She would go on to become the head of the company, which was rare for a woman back in the early 1800s. I can’t tell you much about Widow Dubarry, but her bottle of Cuvee Pretige will set you back $10-$15, which is probably about what you would expect at an “all you can drink” event like this. Your server will always try to convince you that the cava, cuvee, etc. that they’re serving is better than traditional French Champagne, but this is probably not true. On the plus side, the Dubarry tasted like sparkling wine, which was appreciated.
Non-alcoholic beverages like sodas, coffee, and cappuccinos are also available along with or in place of the mimosas. There weren’t very many kids present at the event, but they are more than welcome.
Erin and I had been joking about going to “breadfast” for a couple of months leading up to our date. Being a Parisian Breakfast, the focus is definitely on carbs. Above is one of our plates from last year. We won’t see that Apple and Almond Bar or the flaky Pinwheel topped with fruit and sweet cream this year.
While our dining room was crowded, there were four identical buffet stations set up in the center of the restaurant. After the initial rush, shortly after the event started, there was never a wait to grab anything from the buffet. Everything here is basically the same as what you’d be able to purchase from Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie individually. I don’t think the Chefs de France kitchen was used at all.
First up, we have a couple of savory options with the Egg Croissant and very French “Ham & Cheese.” The miniature Croque Monsieur are not served hot, which we thought was a little disappointing. This isn’t a departure from last year, but the sandwiches are definitely on the dry side when they’re served like this. Still, they retained their crispy quality with a delicious flavor full of butter, cheese, and ham. The Egg Croissant was new this year, offering a spongy cube of scrambled egg in the middle of the flaky croissants. These were served at room temperature as well, and might have even been on the colder side of that. This was intended, but I’m not sure that it’s the way that I would go if I could offer just about any kind of French pastry that I wanted.
My favorite item is the Cheese Tartine, which is Country Bread with Tomato Sauce, Swiss, Parmesan, and Goat Cheese. There’s just a little bit of tomato, but it goes a long way to flavoring the crunchy, cheesy bread. It’s a really satisfying blend of crispy bread and salty cheese. Amusingly, last year, the Cheese Tartine was marked as “Tomato & Cheese,” while the Ham & Cheese was written out as “Croque Monsieur.” I guess they only want to confuse people by using French on every other item. At least there aren’t any references to the Tip Yip or Kaduu that you may or may not see on the menu at Docking Bay 7 over at Galaxy’s Edge.
Up front we have a selection of meats, including ham and salami. It’s nothing fancy, but each bite pairs nicely with the bread and cheese that we’ll see shortly.
Four cheeses were available- I’m thinking Brie, Swiss/Gruyere, Goat, and Blue – nothing extravagant again, but it tasted good.
As you’d expect, the thinly-sliced fruit was forgettable, but adding a couple of pieces might brighten up your plate a bit.
Baguettes are involved, of course.
You could grab as many slices as you like.
Hazelnut spread and raspberry jam were available. I had been complaining for years about Chefs’ butter choice, which had been those nearly-frozen, hard little packets for years and years. I was happy to see these little butter balls instead.
It’s a little more elegant than this.
A couple of sweet bread (and not sweetbread) options were on offer, including a lemony, crumbly Pound Cake and denser, breadier Brioche.
The Palmiers enjoyed a nice flaky, buttery quality with a little bit of sugar. Very good too.
The croissants were appropriately fluffy, buttery and flaky, with a tender bite.
Pain au Chocolat, or Chocolate Croissants, were also plentiful with just the right amount of tiny, rich chocolate chips baked into the dough.
And that sums up the spread with the two types of croissaints, pastries, sandwiches, fruit, cheese, meat, and cheese tartines.
Was it worth the $48? We thought so given the fact that we enjoyed several mimosas and plenty of food over 90+ minutes. We didn’t have as good of luck with service this year, but it was still nice and relaxing to enjoy the brasserie’s bustling atmosphere. We did end up being squished in a little tighter than we would have liked for the second year in a row. Compared to what I would have spent for the amount of food at the Boulangerie next door, I easily ate $10 worth of meat and cheese, and another $10 worth of Croque Monsieur and Tartines, on top of the other various breads. “Just” four mimosas is $30-worth, too. It’s a much worse value proposition for those who either don’t drink or probably won’t be consuming more than one mimosa. You could go next door and easily spend $20 less to fill up on stuff at the bakery and enjoy a similar view outside on the promenade with a lot fewer people around.
But if you’re looking to start your day off right, then the Parisian Breakfast is a smart choice. We had a lot of fun and the experience “feels” special given the fact that there are only eight or nine opportunities a year to enjoy it. Call early once booking for special events at next year’s Food and Wine Festival begins because the event does sell out.
I’ll see you there.