Top 5 Restaurants at Walt Disney World- #4

It’s time for the number 4 restaurant in my top 5 list of Walt Disney World restaurants and for Disney food lovers everywhere, it’s going to be a bit of a shock, if not sacrilege, that this restaurant isn’t higher on the list. There are reasons that this restaurant comes in lower than others and we’ll discuss those later, but for now, let’s get down to business.

Le Cellier Sign4. Le Cellier’ in Canada at EPCOT’s World Showcase

As I said, it might come as a bit of a shock that this popular restaurant falls at number 4 instead of the 1 or 2 that it holds in the majority of Disney food lovers’ lists. Indeed, before the Disney Dining Plan came along and truly made advance dining reservations virtually required to eat at any nicer, sit-down, table service restaurant, Le Cellier’ was that one coveted eatery that was absolutely impossible to get into without a reservation made weeks or even months in advance. I remember it being the pinnacle of our Disney World restaurant experiences when we visited as a family when I was younger, and for many, Le Cellier’ is still the masterpiece of all Disney World restaurants.

Food:

For as long as I can remember going to Walt Disney World, Le Cellier’ has been near the top, if not on the top of the dining experience list. It seems that it would be pretty hard to pinpoint some specific style of “Canadian cuisine,” but the steakhouse approach seems to do justice to a northwest, wilderness style cuisine featuring hearty cuts of meat and fresh vegetables.

Mushroom-Filet-Mignon-with-white-truffle-butter-sauce-and-micro-chevrilI have had the signature dish, the “Le Cellier'” Mushroom Filet Mignon, a few times. Let me say up front, that I’m not a huge fan of Filet Mignon. This is mainly because most places that serve filet fail to cook it properly rendering it more like a pot roast than a tender filet. Le Cellier’ is not one of those places. While remaining true to the lean, meaty goodness of Filet Mignon, Le Cellier’ keeps their filet tender and juicy with the true consistency of steak… not a crock-pot surprise from Sunday afternoon. There isn’t a lot of seasoning put on the steak itself, the chef relies on a rich truffle butter to simply give an earthy boost to the flavor of the meat without covering it up with rubs and such. Underneath the filet is the famous mushroom risotto, which is why many flock to Le Cellier’ in the first place. Consistency isn’t an issue at Le Cellier’. Every time I’ve gotten this dish, both the filet and the risotto have been cooked to perfection. This is worth a go for sure.

coffee rubbed steakNow, as delicious as the filet and risotto are, I’ve always been a bigger fan of ribeye steak. If you get a great ribeye with the right amount of marbling (fat cutting through the red, lean meat), and cook it just under medium with just the right amount of salt and pepper, you’ll be in steak heaven. Le Cellier’ does just that with one great addition… coffee. Yeah, you read that right and once you try it, you’ll never make a steak without it again. It seems that the coffee rubbed ribeye steak isn’t always on the menu and sometimes, it’s a coffee rubbed New York strip steak. If it is on the menu, go for it… no questions asked. The coffee rub does not mask any of the great flavor of the meat, it only adds a wonderful, earthy, subtle bitterness that truly accents the great steak flavor; not to mention the great color and juices that such a rub will add to the steak. Le Cellier’ made me a coffee rub believer. I rarely make a steak (or a pork chop for that matter) without using a coffee rub recipe I found online. If you ever get to eat at Le Cellier’ when they are offering a coffee rubbed steak of any cut, forego the signature mushroom ribeye and go for the coffee rubbed goodness.

maple creme bruleeAs if there was anything else to say… I come to dessert. Walt Disney World desserts can be monotonous and, well, bland. This is due in part to the advent of the Disney Dining Plan and mostly to the free Dining Plan special that has been offered off and on for the past few years. Since folks have either pre-paid for their meals with Dining Plan or are getting it for free with the special offer, they tend to order the most expensive or lavish item on the menu. This has caused some amount of reduction in menu items across the board, but Disney has saved the vast amount of these cuts for the dessert menu; an easy way to trim out cost without affecting the main entrees too much. However, at Le Cellier’, you are still able to treat yourself to a unique item that will keep you coming back again and again; the Maple Crème Brûlée. This is no ordinary crème brûlée, but is infused with a great maple flavor. Couple that with a great caramelized brown sugar topping, and this is crème brûlée paradise. This dessert is not to be missed. 

Atmosphere and Location

World Showcase at EPCOT features pavilions (more like mini-lands) from eleven countries, Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, France, The UK, and Canada. Le Cellier’ is the restaurant within the Canadian pavilion in the replica of the beautiful Victoria Gardens.

le cellier interiorAs you walk through the elaborate gardens and past the gentle waterfall, you come to the entrance of Le Cellier’, aptly called, “The Cellar,” because of its theming as a dimly lit, elegant, wine cellar.

First of all, the ins and outs of the Canada pavilion feature some of the finest landscaping and theming in all of EPCOT and perhaps all of Walt Disney World. Further back into the pavilion are some great wooden pathways designed to look like log-framed bridges and walkways complete with northwest style hanging lanterns and a great waterfall. All of this makes the Canada pavilion a wonderfully themed, beautiful place to enjoy a great theme park dinner. The restaurant itself is elegant and serene without being stuffy or overly canada_waterfall_nf_stornate. The colors are rustic and the feel is earthy, perfectly suitable for a great steakhouse.

Detractions:

Well so far, I’ve offered nothing but a glittering review of this restaurant and you may be wondering what places Le Cellier’ lower on the list. A few years ago, Disney got smart and capitalized on the overwhelming popularity of this restaurant by making it into a signature restaurant. This means that if you’re on the Dining Plan, Le Cellier’ will cost you two of your table service points. If you’re not on the Dining Plan, it simply means that the prices went up. This is unfortunate because the menu, for the most part, seems to have remained the same while taking on a six to ten dollar price increase per entree. It is also unfortunate (at least to me) because, if I’m going to use two of my dining points at a signature restaurant, I’m going to go to a place that offers that fine-dining feel, usually within one of the nicer Disney World Resort hotels. I’m less inclined to use that extra credit to eat at one of the theme park  signature restaurants, of which Le Cellier’ and The Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom are the only three. This might seem like a minor offense to many, but it has kept Le Cellier’ off of my Disney World dining arrangements since the change. This doesn’t in any way detract from the wonderful food offered at Le Cellier’, but it does offer the regular visitor a conflict of interests… this regular visitor anyway.

I give Le Cellier’ a pretty high 7.8 out of 10; and that only because of awkward pricing and Dining Plan situation.

Check out Le Cellier’ here.

As with all Walt Disney World table service (sit-down) restaurants, reservations, while not required, are certainly strongly advised if you wish to eat where you want, when you want.

Stay tuned for number 3 of my top 5 restaurants at Walt Disney World this week!

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