Le Cellier
Canada - World Showcase - Epcot

Debra Martin Koma
ALL EARS® Senior Editor
January 2004

Whenever I hear that one of my favorite Walt Disney World restaurants has slipped, I feel compelled to go and check it out for myself. I'd heard from some friends that their recent dining experiences at Le Cellier in Epcot's Canada pavilion were disappointing
at best, so I decided to stop in there for lunch recently when I had the chance.

At 12:30 p.m. on a Friday in mid-January there was really no need for a Priority Seating, but I had made one anyway -- as much as I love Le Cellier, I must admit that they are notoriously slow to seat guests. Luckily, though, this visit was an exception, and my two guests and I were ushered to a table promptly.

Our server, Dan from Vancouver, cheerfully greeted us with a special request -- could we please go easy on him since it was his first day? We agreed good-naturedly, and lunch was off to a pleasant start.

In spite of his inexperience, Dan proved to be a friendly, efficient and thoughtful server who made sure we had whatever we needed, even if he had to ask another server to bring it. Once our drink orders were taken, we had the chance to chat unhurriedly before Dan returned to take our lunch requests.

The St. David's Bench Merlot ($8.50), a Canadian vintage, was a respectable deep red wine, dry but with a nice finish. The Cappuccino Freeze ($3.79), a coffee-flavored smoothie, was deemed "perfect," despite the fact (as Dan informed us) that the smoothie-maker was also on her first day. A Labatt's Light Beer ($4.50) was deemed an adequate substitute by the Coors drinker in our party.

Our warm breadsticks arrived shortly after our drinks, brought by another server who failed to deliver the usual spiel on the meaning behind the three different types. We teased Dan later about this, and he gladly recited the story: the pretzel bread represents the large Octoberfest held in certain provinces of Canada each year due to their large German population; the sourdough stands for the Pacific Coast of Canada, since sourdough allegedly originated in the Yukon during the Gold Rush; the multi-grain <multigrain?> breadstick is for the middle of Canada, which is said to produce 50 percent of the world's wheat. We really didn't care what the breads stood for, however -- we were happy to devour them without the story, especially the pretzel bread, which is doughy and dotted with large salt crystals, just like a soft pretzel. Yum!

For lunch, I chose the open-faced Sirloin Steak Sandwich, which was finished with a tomato jam and came with an arugula and fennel salad ($11.99). The beef was tender and juicy and smothered with buttery sauteed mushrooms (an additional $.99) -- in spite of my determination to not overstuff myself, I ate every bite.

The Grilled Steak Burger ($9.99) had a deep charcoal flavor and was accompanied by an unusual warm potato salad of fingerling potatoes, rosemary and garlic -- the smokiness of the potato salad was unexpected, and not entirely pleasant.

The clear winner of the lunchtime sweepstakes, though, was the Classic Reuben
($9.99), which came on marbled rye bread with a generous portion of tender corned beef, melted gruyere cheese, and sauerkraut in a sweet thousand island dressing. The bread was toasted a little too lightly, allowing the bottom of the sandwich to get rather soggy, but the sauerkraut was not at all bitter or overpowering. The sandwich earned a "9" out of a possible 10 rating -- high praise indeed, coming from a former deli owner.

After such hearty entrees, dessert was out of the question, although we were sorely tempted by the Chocolate on Chocolate Bread Pudding ($5.99) and the Maple Creme Brulee ($4.99). We remained strong, however, and, after coffee, lunch totaled nearly $50 for the three of us. Not out of line, we concluded, considering that alcoholic beverages were involved.

So -- great, friendly service, high quality food, a leisurely pace, a price not too out of line with what you'd expect at a theme park restaurant... I'd have to say that Le Cellier remains one of my favorite Walt Disney World restaurants.