I took advantage of a complimentary day at Epcot recently to pay a return visit to Chefs de France, the big brasserie on the first level of the France pavilion. True, the upstairs bistro, Monsieur Paul, offers a more sedate dining experience, at least relatively so, but Chefs de France can be as equally enjoyable, as was the case on my latest visit.
My companion ducked into the restaurant just ahead of a massive downpour and were shown to a table by the window where we could watch the crowds scurry.
We started with the Cassolette d’escargots de Bourgogne au beurre persillé, or more succinctly, snails. Escargot has always been a strong suit at CdF — it’s a popular item during the International Food & Wine Festival — and these show why. The half-dozen slugs were smothered in a parsley butter sauce, not overly garlicky, and topped with a toasted crouton. Some extra bread on the side was appreciated for sopping up the delicious butter.
I also sampled the Bisque de Homard, a rich and creamy smooth-brothed soup topped with a handful of lobster meat.
For my entree I chose the Boeuf Bourguignon, the classic dish of beef slow-braised in red wine with pearl onions and carrots. The meat was tender and gravy just right. The addition of separately cooked carrots added color and texture. The linguine that accompanied wasn't really necessary.
As with other pavilions at Epcot, the serving staff is comprised of residence of the sponsoring country. Our server was a charming young man from Marseilles who gamely indulged our broken attempts at speaking French.
The atmosphere is traditional brasserie, with gilded lamps and mirrors and bright lighting. If it weren’t for all the people in t-shirts and shorts you’d believe you were dining in Paris. (Though, honestly, the Parisians have gotten lax in their own dress-code standards in recent years.)
I'm glad I chose to check in on Chefs de France and delighted to know that it is still paying attention to serving fine French food, even to the masses.
Chefs de France is at the France Pavilion in Epcot. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-939-3463.