We continue on from Ireland.
France returns out in front of the Pavilion on the right side. On busier days, check to see if the line is shorter on the left/back side of the Marketplace, particularly before 3pm.
We have slightly different takes on the Braised Beef, Crème Brûlée, and Kir this year. The popular Escargot Croissant returns along with La Passion Martini Slushy, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Kronenbourg 1664. Fans of last year’s Chardonnay may also be disappointed by the fact that it’s brought by Maison de France this year, instead of Le Vieux Manoir.
- Fondue of Imported Cheeses and Chardonnay served with Croutons – $5.25
- Escargot Croissant with Garlic and Parsley – $5.75
- Beef Braised in Cabernet Sauvignon with Red Onions and Puffed Potatoes – $6.50
- Crème Brûlèe with House-made Chocolate Hazelnut Cream – $4.75
- Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 Pale Lager – $4.75
- Chardonnay, Maison de France — $4.50
- Cabernet Sauvignon, Village la Tourelle, Bordeaux — $6.50
- Kir à la Grenade: Sparkling Wine with Monin Pomegranate Syrup – $8.50
- La Passion Martini Slushy: Vodka, Grey Goose Le Citron, Cranberry and Passion Fruit Juice – $11
Fondue of Imported Cheeses and Chardonnay served with Croutons – $5.25
It’s hard to screw up melted cheese, and of all the people who might start, it’s probably not going to be the French. The silky Fondue is rich, creamy, and incredibly cheesy with a little bit of wine to help add some acidity and balance out some of the tang. There is one incredible disappointment here and that’s the sad portion of bread. You get all of two thin slices that amount to a total of maybe six tiny bites. If you’re a mouse. Of all the ingredients to chintz out on, you wouldn’t think it would be the bread. I’m seriously considering packing a loaf with me the next time I’m planning on picking up one of these, along with Ireland’s Stout Dip and Canada’s Beer Cheese Soup. Of course, you could head into the Boulangerie in the France Pavilion and pick up half of a baguette for about two dollars, but you shouldn’t have to. Even the menu picture shows three slices. If they hand you a plate with just two pieces on it, you might ask for more. They are French so they will not be enthusiastic about it, but it’s “just bread” even if they’re treating it like gold. With an ample amount of bread, this is a delicious dish. I’m rating it based on receiving enough carbs.
Escargot Croissant with Garlic and Parsley – $5.75
This is a Festival favorite and one of only a couple of returning items that I allow anyone in my entourage to order on the first day of the Festival, which is historically devoted to new items. Four escargot(s) are baked into the croissant which is topped with a buttery garlic and parsley spread. You might be a little apprehensive about the whole snail thing, but this is a good opportunity to try them. The escargots hold up surprisingly well and this is basically just an exercise in how much butter and garlic you can fit into a single bread-y bite.. Definitely worth a try.
Beef Braised in Cabernet Sauvignon with Red Onions and Puffed Potatoes – $6.50
That’s it in the middle, which may or may not offer context into the size of everything.
This isn’t necessarily a major departure from what France has offered for several years now. In 2018, the Beef was braised in beer instead of the classic red wine that we see return this year. Which tastes better is a matter of personal taste. There’s a fine line between tender and mushy and what we were served was closer to the latter, stringy and with too much fat. The sauce overwhelmed everything and there was so much of it that we could have coated the beef five or six times over. The Puff Potatoes are firm and full of plenty of potato, but there’s no seasoning to speak of and the texture doesn’t differentiate itself from a couple of bites of bland baked potato. This will likely taste better as temperatures cool and you may do better on the beef quality front. At $6.50, it’s not a terrible gamble.
Crème Brûlèe with House-made Chocolate Hazelnut Cream – $4.75
The sugar isn’t freshly caramelized, but the browning process adds a thin, crunchy, glass-like top layer. This year, the cream is laced with a thick, Nutella-like Hazelnut Cream, which adds a strong nutty flavor and a little bit of cocoa. Ours wasn’t as thick as you’d probably hope with thinner, watery cream. I would guess things will improve moving forward. The Chocolate Pudding that we saw in Ireland is more of a slam dunk, but you might add this to your order if you’re in the mood for something sweet.
Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 Pale Lager – $4.75
Kronenbourg is available in France throughout the year and you’ll also find it on the lunch/dinner menu at Be Our Guest Restaurant over at Magic Kingdom, among other locations. This witbier is heavy on the lemon and orange citrus up front with some lingering coriander spice on the back end. It’s a pretty expensive proposition at the Festival and there are better options at nearby Belgium and Block & Hans in the United States Pavilion.
Chardonnay, Maison de France — $4.50
France’s Chardonnay hails from just about the most generically-named vineyard of all time this year. A bottle at the store would run you about $7, making the $4.50 ask for about three ounces a rough prospect. Worse, it’s not particularly tasty – too dry and with a flavor closer to wet cardboard than bright fruit.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Village la Tourelle, Bordeaux — $6.50
This dark red wine enjoys an elegant flavor dominated by black cherry, plum, and cassis with a firm tannin structure. I’d be far more likely to put a $10 bottle on the dinner table than pick up a small plastic cup for $6.50 here, but it pairs well with the beef.
Kir à la Grenade: Sparkling Wine with Monin Pomegranate Syrup – $8.50
This is probably a step in the wrong direction. Last year, we enjoyed a Kir mixed with St. Germain Liqueur, which added a refreshing, effervescent quality to the sparkling wine. A couple of years ago, the Pomegranate Kir was mixed with Pama Pomegranate Liqueur, adding a pretty red color and increasing the alcohol content. Here, the viscous Monin syrup adds an artificial fruity flavor and thickens the drink. On the plus side, it does help cover up the fact that it’s mixed with lousy sparkling wine. Certainly, this isn’t the worst thing you could order, but similar drinks are always available around France. I like the Mimosa Royale coming up in Morocco more.
La Passion Martini Slushy: Vodka, Grey Goose Le Citron, Cranberry and Passion Fruit Juice – $11
The Passion Fruit Martini Slushy is probably the most popular cocktail at the Festival and is similar to the other various slushes that France offers year-round. It’s reliably cold and refreshing with a pleasantly fruity flavor that isn’t too sweet along with a questionable amount of alcohol. Very tasty, but don’t expect it to pack a punch.
Overall, France is a mixed bag this year, but it continues to offer the popular Escargot Croissant along with the Passion Martini Slushy. With more bread, the Fondue is a smart add and the Crème Brûlée isn’t a bad grab if you’re in the mood to add something sweet.