Who doesn’t think of food when they think of France? So of course, when deciding where to have dinner at Epcot, the “country” of France in World Showcase immediately leaps to mind. During my first trip to Disney World in 2005, I had dinner at Chefs de France, which I was a little nervous about (there’s no bartop dining here, and I wasn’t sure if the restaurant would be filled with couples and families). As it turned out, it was one of the best solo dining experiences I had at Disney World, and the food was divine.
There was no question in my mind that I had to return for another fine dinner at Chefs during my May trip to Disney World this year. I love escargot and rarely have an opportunity to eat it except when I travel. So I booked an ADR. Later, I learned that the animatronic Chef Remy from Ratatouille appears at this restaurant, but sadly, my reservation was too late at night to see him.
My experience at Chefs during this trip was almost as wonderful as last time. The big difference was that during my first visit, I had dinner around 5pm, and there were few other diners there, so the restaurant was a quiet little oasis from the chaos of the parks. This time, my reservation was for 6:30pm, and the place was packed (and loud). Still, I didn’t have to wait long for a table. Just like last time, I was conveniently seated at a two-top table in front of the large front windows, so I could people-watch. (I love when restaurant staff do that without me having to ask.) Obviously, they can’t always accommodate a solo that way when the restaurant is crowded; in the hour I was there, I saw one other solo diner, also a woman, and she did not have a window seat.
My server, Jeremy, was very good, incredibly solicitous (and cute as a button). I ordered an iced coffee and learned that they don’t actually have iced coffee, but they’ll make it for you using hot coffee poured over ice. (This was pretty much true all over Disney property, which flabbergasted me. You would think a state as hot as Florida would understand the appeal of a drink like iced coffee and have some at the ready all the time.)
Naturally, I had to order the escargot, which were as fabulous as I remembered. They are baked in a garlic butter with lots of parsley. If you’ve never had snails before, I know, you think it’s gross. But really, they’re terrific. Give it a try sometime. (No, they don’t taste like chicken. They taste like the garlic butter they were cooked in.)
I knew I wanted to order dessert here, and I remembered that the last time I was here, escargot and lobster bisque filled me up so much I couldn’t eat very much of my creme brule, so I passed on the entrees and ordered the goat cheese salad as my main meal. This was made with arugula, tomatoes, grapes, walnuts and baked goat cheese. When it was first set in front of me, I was a little disappointed to see that there was only one piece of goat cheese in the salad. Then when I actually bit into a small piece of it and realized it had the consistency of peanut butter, adhering my tongue to the roof of my mouth, I was thankful there was only one piece. Overall, the salad was just okay, nothing special. There was so little dressing, I could barely taste it, and the walnuts were just plain, raw walnuts–not toasted, not spiced, not candied, nothing. So it was a little boring, as salads go. I should have gotten the lobster bisque again.
A lackluster salad simply meant I was looking forward to dessert all the more. I had the apple cinnamon crepe with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, which was served with a few colorful berries on the side. The portion size was perfect for me–not too gargantuan, but not too small, either. This crepe is an excellent dessert, the french equivalent of apple pie and ice cream, two of my favorite complementary flavors; the caramel sauce and berries were a nice touch.
My bill (before tip) came to $31.58 (itemized, it was $10.95 for the escargot, $8.50 for the salad, $7.25 for the crepe, and $2.95 for the iced coffee, plus tax).
After two delicious meals at Chefs de France and great customer service and solo-friendliness during both experiences, I can heartily recommend this restaurant to any solos traveing to Disney World. Getting a window table really makes a difference when dining solo, though, so if you can time your meal to a less busy time or offer to wait until a window seat becomes available, I’d recommend it. Next time, I think I’ll have lunch here so I can see Remy.