Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Le Cellier

Note:  This restaurant was visited on 12 February 2012.  The review was originally written later that afternoon.

Le Cellier.  

The myth.

The legend.

Le Cellier is a  Canadian steakhouse and it is absolutely the most popular restaurant in all of Epcot.  Not only that, it is one of the top five most popular restaurants on the Walt Disney World property, and one of the top ten most popular Disney restaurants on the entire planet.

Le Cellier

For the longest time before I began this project, I kept hearing horror stories about people not being able to get reservations at Le Cellier.  I kept hearing about how this or that group of people tried to get reservations a year-and-a-half ahead of time and were unable to do so.

Imagine my surprise when, back in December [note:  once again, this review was originally written in February 2012; the December in question was the December of 2011] when I went searching for potential dining spots for the tour and up popped three seats in the restaurant I'd been told was impossible to get into.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance to eat here without having to wait until I was an old man.  (Okay, okay... an older man.  No smart remarks, please.)

It is important to note that this restaurant is inside the Epcot park.  You're going to need admission into the park as a whole in addition to the cost of the restaurant.  This wasn't a problem for us, as both I and Mom are cast members, but its something to keep in mind.

My guests for the day were my mother, Cheryl, and my father, Jack Sr.  This being February in Florida, it was a cold day, and windy.  This was a problem on the way to the main gate at Epcot.  I don't know about Mom and Dad, but I felt like I was being stabbed by ice spikes.  We huddled up, rode to the entrance, and made our way into the park.

Mom, weathering the cold in the Epcot parking lot.

Dad, trying to pretend the wind isn't that bad, in the Epcot parking lot.
The Epcot entrance.
For those of you who haven't ever been to Epcot, Le Cellier is located in the Canada Pavillion, a part of the World Showcase.  Once you're inside the park, walk under spaceship earth (the iconic big metal golf ball that you see at the entrance to the park), then continue on through Future World to Showcase Plaza, the entrance to the World Showcase.  Go right, and the first of the pavillions you come to is the Canada Pavillions (look for the wooden buildings and the totem poles and such).

The restaurant is down a garden path, at the head of which you'll find the reservation kiosk.  Its outside and in the open, which meant that the young ladies who were manning it were freezing their collective butts off.

The reservation check in kiosk.  These young ladies are making a brave show of not looking like their freezing.  Of course, they are Canadian.  But you notice that its the supervisor wearing the jacket?
The garden path leading up to the restaurant.
The reason I call it "the garden path".

The whole garden from one side...
... and from the other.

Once inside, we had to check in again for some reason.  We were given a buzzer and told we had about a fifteen minute wait for a table.  The waiting area of the restaurant was pretty much full (remember, this is one of the most popular restaurants on Disney World property), so we made the most of it by talking to some of our fellow would-be diners.  We met a nice family (a big family... there were thirteen people in their party) from Pennsylvania who had never been to Epcot before, but had heard this was the best place to eat, so here they were.
Waiting for a table...

... and talking to our neighbors from Pennsylvania

"Le Cellier" means "the cellar", and that's how the interior of this restaurant is done up.  You go down a steeply sloping hallway from the entrance to the dining room proper (and to be honest, I think the dining room proper, as I call it, is actually underneath the entrance.  For that matter, I'm sure that part of it is actually underneath the top end of the garden path.  Its a good looking restaurant, neatly organized, and it didn't feel crowded despite being wall-to-wall people.  The decor was subtle and appealing, and the room was obviously designed with soundproofing in mind because despite the crowd, it was a relatively quiet place.

The dining room.  You can see where the name "Le Cellier" (which means "The Cellar") came from.

Myself, Mom,and Dad at our table.

Our server, Brittany.  She was quick, she was efficient, and she was friendly, and I liked her a lot.
Once sat, it took maybe fifteen seconds for our server, a young lady from Saskatchewan named Brittany, to get to us.  We had our drink orders at our table within three minutes of her taking them, and I have to say, her quickness and efficiency carried through the entire meal.  She was also very friendly and when I told her what I was doing, she rather enthusiastically asked about the other stops along the tour.

I can hear you guys out there getting restless, so let's get on with the food.

As I mentioned above, Le Cellier is a Canadian steakhouse.  It is upscale, but not impossibly so, and certainly isn't as unapproachable or expensive as some other places I could name (I'm looking right at you, Victoria and Albert's).  The restaurant has a very friendly, accomodating feel to it, as if the people who ran it were more concerned with the food and the dining experience than the atmosphere.  This is precisely as it should be.

I should mention, before I get to the food, that the place just smells good.  We walked in from outside and the first thing Mom said was, "Oh my God, do you smell that?  I don't know what that is, but I want lots of it."

We started out with a bread plate that was stacked with sour dough bread, some whole wheat something or another, and a couple of "pretzel bread" sticks.  The sour dough was great, the whole wheat somethings were good, but the pretzel bread was just amazing.
To accompany the bread, we ordered a three-offering appetizer that had duck meatballs (it was duck, it was a meatball, it was okay but not spectacular), some absolutely amazing cheddar-beer soup, and the crowning achievement, a "tomato stack" that seemed to be a Canadian version of pico de gallo and was very, very tasty.

Collectively, we discovered that the best way to eat the soup was to use it as a dipping sauce for the bread (especially the pizza bread), while simultaneously using the bread as a platform for eating the other parts of the appetizer plate (especially the tomato stack).

The Appetizer Trio to Share.  Duck meatballs, beer-cheddar soup, and the tomato stack.

The bread plate.  Pizza bread, the whole wheat something, and the sourdough bread.

When it came to the entree's, Dad and I ordered the filet mignon, while Mom went with the New York strip steak.  The filets were served with a wild mushroom risotto in a white truffle sauce, while the strip came with cream cheese mashed potatoes and Bercy butter sauce.  We also ordered creamed spinach, roasted mushrooms, and poutin as sides to share.

The filet mignon with wild mushroom risotto and white truffle sauce.

The New York strip steak with cream cheese mashed potatoes.

Creamed spinach.

Roasted mushrooms.

The poutin.  For those not familiar, poutin is basically french fries with cheese and gravy on them.

The filet mignon was literally melt in your mouth tender.  On his steak (he ordered the same entree as I did), my Dad said, "This may be the best steak I've ever had."  Mom sang similar praises for her New York strip.  The risotto (and Mom's mashed potatoes) was excellent, and really completed the taste of the steak in that way that good food sort of melds together into one amazing taste.  The mushrooms had been roasted after being steeped in a beef broth, and tasted great., and went along with the steaks in perfect harmony.

Unfortunately, the creamed spinach and the poutin were horrible.  Specifically, the spinach was okay by itself... the melted cheese they topped the spinach with was okay by itself.  Add them together and it created a dish that was way, way too salty.  It was simply inedible.

And speaking of inedible, the the poutin got too cold far too quickly.  By the time I managed two or three bites of it, the cheese had hardened and the gravy congealed.  This was really disappointing to me, because I love poutin, especially when it is well done.

Folks, I have to tell you, those were the only two problems with the entire meal.  And the manager was kind enough to remove both of the failed sides from our check.

After the mains was desert. Dad had the berry cobbler while Mom and I had the over-sized maple creme brulee. Both were excellent.

The maple cream brulee.  This thing was huge compared to the standard brulee.

Dad's berry cobbler.  It came with a crisp, a smear of some berry something, and some vanilla ice cream.

A definite four and a half stars out of five (and had it not been for the spinach and the poutin, it would have been five).

The filet was $26 while the strip steak was $31. Sides (the mushrooms, the creamed spinach, and the poutin) were $6 apiece, as were the desserts. With drinks and everything, dinner came to $145 for three people. This restaurant was a step up from last months in class and service, so the higher price was a bit justified.

I do recommend it, if you can afford it and can get in.

Next stop:  T-Rex, in the Downtown Disney shopping complex.


  1. I'm overdue to eat poutin for the first time, given that I live twelve miles from Canada and I do visit there occasionally. Thanks for another supa review!

    1. Its both different and basic at the same time, I think. And very tasty when done well. Hope you enjoy it.