A visit to Monsieur Paul restaurant at Epcot’s France pavilion leaves us wanting an encore!

Filed under: Vacation Tips,Walt Disney World |

Central Florida offers visitors and residents a chance to experience life like no other place on the planet can do. World famous for our theme parks, Orlando has many other things to do at this time of year that it really becomes very difficult to choose. Last weekend was a prime example. Over at SeaWorld the “Just For Kids” weekends began while at the convention center thousands of sci-fi, comic book, anime, fantasy and gaming fans flocked to Megacon. And that’s just for starters. It was also the weekend for the PGA’s Arnold Palmer Invitational and over at Walt Disney World, the 21st Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is underway.

We chose to visit Epcot as the weather was absolutely perfect for a stroll around the park taking in the sights as we went. We were also tempted to Epcot because “The Orchestra” were playing later in the evening. For those of us old enough to remember the original Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) this was a chance to revisit the past and for some, to see a band we missed in our youth.

Naturally, after an afternoon’s walking around a theme park and then listening to some great music, you get a tad hungry and for dinner we had lined up a special treat. A visit to “Monsieur Paul.”

Monsieur Paul was previously named “Le Bistro de Paris” and we have been lucky enough to eat there a few times before. However, this visit was different as Le Bistro underwent a renovation at the end of 2012 and it became Monsieur Paul under the guidance of Chef Jerome Bocuse.

Bocuse also owns and operates two other properties in Epcot’s French pavilion; Les Chefs de France and the new bakery, Boulangerie Patisserie Les Halles.

The Bocuse name is a familiar one at Epcot as Jerome’s father, Paul Bocuse, first opened Les Chefs de France in 1982 with Chefs Gaston Lenôtre and Roger Vergé. The Bocuse family, from Lyon, has an important place in the culinary world with Paul Bocuse recently being named “Chef of the Century” by The Culinary Institute of America and many generations of the family have seen life in the kitchen.

The tag “Monsieur Paul” was a name given to a then young Paul Bocuse back in the 1950’s when cooks used to address him by that moniker in order to differentiate him from his father, George, who was also an established chef. The nickname has been with him ever since!

So it was against that backdrop that we made our way to Monsieur Paul after the concert.

One of the first things we noticed was that the restaurant was easier to find.  Bistro de Paris was previously somewhat hidden behind the more prominent Les Chefs de France. The entrance had previously been easy to pass by without a second look because it used to blend into the themeing of the pavilion. Today, it’s much more overt and easier to find with a resplendent awning cover featuring the “Monsieur Paul” name.

As we entered the door, the familiarity started to enter our senses. Everything has been renovated but some features remain the same and we were delighted to see the winding staircase still in place as it somewhat defines the moment you are called upstairs to enjoy a wonderful meal. We did notice some subtle differences though as the previous ornately patterned carpet and the absolutely hideous wallpaper you really can only find in France are now gone even though the Burgundy color scheme remains.

After a short wait for our table, we made our way up the elegant staircase with the gorgeous art nouveau railing. As we did so, we paused momentarily to take in some of the photographs on the wall. The picture gallery relates the long and storied career of Chef Paul Bocuse as there are pictures from the family archives and you find yourself wondering about the life the chef has enjoyed. There are pictures from his youth, pictures of him being decorated and pictures of his links to Walt Disney World including a great picture with a certain Mickey Mouse. We’ve posted a couple here but more can be found at our photography website – www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

The photographs and mementos continue as you reach the dining room. They lend a more informal approach than previously seen and you somewhat feel you are entering the man’s home ready for a sumptuous meal that he has personally cooked.

The refurbished dining room is somewhat similar to the previous restaurant but there are some subtle differences. The banquettes and carpets feel modern and the chandeliers add a touch of flair to the overall ambiance.

We were very pleased to see that the tables had the more formal tablecloths restored as a short experiment with paper place-mats when the restaurant first re-opened hadn’t gone down too well. We were also happy to see the cloth napkins folded into the “chef jacket” design were still a prominent feature of the table setting. Small touches but ones that were essential in establishing that we were indeed dining at one of the more refined restaurants at Walt Disney World and we could expect to be treated as such.

We took our seats and the first thing that two members of our party immediately noticed was how straight the back of the banquette was. It was very upright and it has to be said that some folks may find it a touch uncomfortable if perched in that position for a while. In fact, after a few minutes, it was necessary for a little changing of places in our party before we could really settle down to look over the menu and the wine list.

The menu is a fascinating look into the world of the Bocuse family as Jerome clearly has revisited his roots of his family’s rich family heritage while still bringing a sense of modern America into the dining room. Included on the menu are some classic dishes that demonstrate the techniques and flavors of France and it’s fair to say that it provided an interesting twist on French-American fusion, although the vibe is most definitely classic French. This was going to be a difficult choice.

Perusing the menu, the selections are highlighted in French, with the English translation just below each item, again lending an air of authenticity. Vegetarians should note that there are no options on the menu specifically for them but we were informed that special dietary needs can be catered for in the kitchen. Further, if you have children, there is a special menu for young ones that includes squash soup ($5.00) or ham and gruyere cake ($6.00) for appetizer choices and roasted chicken breast with mashed potatoes ($13.00) or filet mignon served with mashed potato and natural jus ($16.00) for entrées.

After deliberating over the menu for a while, we made our choices. Guests have two choices to make at this point; they can choose from the a la carte menu, or, if they prefer, can indulge from the prix fixe menu ($89.00) instead.

Our appetizer selections were i) mussel soup with saffron and light fennel cream, ii) mixed greens with Roquefort cheese, pear and caramelized pecans (two of us actually made this selection) and iii) serrano ham with white asparagus remoulade and red beets. It was at this point that the restaurant decided to surprise us and before any of our appetizers arrived we were treated to Raviole d’escargots, crème au persil – escargot ravioli with cream of parsley (pictured below).

It’s at this point that I have to confess that I had never tried escargot before. Being typically English, I had always shunned eating land snails as being somewhat disgusting but tonight was going to be different and I was determined to give it a go. It seemed impolite to do otherwise!

Being honest, our party had mixed reviews of the dish but I think it’s easiest to say that it’s something of an acquired taste. Some folks will love the dish and others won’t. That’s how it goes. Me? I enjoyed the dish to a point but I think there are other appetizers on the menu that I’d prefer and one of them was the Roquefort salad (pictured above left) that was truly delicious. A large chunk of Roquefort cheese topped the greens and the poached, sliced pears complimented the dish superbly well. The appetizers for the other folks in our party also looked equally as delicious (mussel soup – above right and serrano ham pictured above center)  and the reports were that we were off to a very good start to the meal indeed!

At this point I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wine list. As you’d expect it’s full of some great French selections. Some wonderful Burgundy selections like Pouilly-Fuissé and Chablis as well as some fabulous other bottles from other areas like the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. The restaurant also features an interesting range of sparkling wines but Monsieur Paul really excels with its red wines and there’s absolutely something for everyone as over 3,000 bottles of wine are stored in the wine cellars.

I won’t bore you with our selections in the wine department as frankly, everyone has their own personal favorites. I would encourage you to try out some of the great French wines though and to do a little research as to what you might enjoy before you go by checking the photos at www.FloridaleisurePhotography.com to see what’s available on the wine list.

The next course that arrived was another wonderful surprise from the Monsieur Paul staff, Philippe and Clementine, as they treated us to a sample of the seared scallop (pictured above) from the main course menu. The scallop was crisp and absolutely delightful, so full of taste and we loved the surprise. A truly superb dish to select for anyone who loves scallops.

Our main course selections then arrived and for some reason, we’d kept it remarkably simple. Two of us chose the red snapper and two of us selected the beef tenderloin.

I chose the red snapper and it really was a tremendous dish. Topped with potato scales and garnished with braised fennel and a delicious rosemary sauce, the snapper simply fell apart in the mouth and had a wonderful delectable taste. I also have to confess that I managed to steal some of the beef tenderloin from my wife’s plate. That dish was served with a mushroom crust, soft mashed potatoes and an excellent bordelaise sauce. The tenderloin was a magnificent cut and was cooked to a nice medium rare temperature… just how beef should be served. Have to say, it was the way to go… a fabulous surf and turf combination… although I did have to trade some red snapper to achieve it!

By this stage, all four of us were feeling extremely well fed. In true French tradition we were allowed a little sabbatical before taking a look at the dessert menu (pictured above). It was an extremely hard choice but Philippe made life so much easier when he turned up with a final surprise of the evening … a fabulous chocolate moelleux.

The dessert was essentially a chocolate and coffee combination crunch on homemade coffee ice cream and a gold leaf chocolate ring on top. It was a great finish to our meal. Nice, light and refreshing.

I have to confess we did contemplate making a selection from the ample choice of dessert wines, digestifs, cognacs and liqueurs (pictured above left) but decided to save that for another time. We did make note of the very fancy bottle of Remi Martin VSOP though (pictured above right).


A dinner at Bistro de Paris has always been a special evening, and Monsieur Paul definitely continues with that tradition. The menu is similar to the old Bistro menu, so if you loved Bistro, you’re more than likely to enjoy Monsieur Paul as well.

Monsieur Paul is a superb restaurant although a touch on the pricey side but again, not really much different than other fine dining establishments on Disney property. The restaurant continues to offer great views of Epcot’s night firework show “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” from its second floor vantage point, a feature you may want to consider when planning your meal times. The windows remain small, however, so be sure to request a window table if the show is a must see!

Monsieur Paul opens seven days a week for dinner beginning at 5:30 p.m and we’d recommend making reservations well in advance.

As for us, we simply can’t wait to do an encore! We thoroughly recommend a night out at Monsieur Paul … it’s a place that every Disney food buff should have high on their list.

Special “Merci” – to Eric, Philippe (pictured above with moi) and Constantine who made our visit so memorable.

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