Last weekend we hit the 2014 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival and also a long held goal of making it to Le Cellier. Le Cellier is located in ‘the cellar’ of the chateau in the Canada pavilion at Epcot. We had wanted to go there since eating at the Canada stop at the Annual Food & Wine Festival but had never made the effort to get the hard to get reservation until we were encouraged to go by our friend Karin’s dad. He said, “You gotta go. They bring that beef in from Canada!” Based on his encouragement I sat on the Disney website and (patiently) clicked through dates until I could get a reservation. It turned out to fall during the Flower & Garden Festival so a day trip was born.
The festival is a fun yearly event at Epcot showcasing all things backyard. There are extra playgrounds for kids based around Cars and Monsters Inc themes, a butterfly house filled with tiny handmade fairy houses and flickering butterflies and a TON of flowers, topiaries of favorite Disney characters, displays on water conservation, vegetable gardening and in the last two years fresh food kiosks based on these garden grown specialties. This is definitely not as elaborate as the Food & Wine Festival and the portions are somewhat larger-well sometimes. We didn’t want to eat much because we knew we were in for a giant steak dinner but we did stop and pick up some cheesy stuffed pasta in Italy. It wasn’t really anything too special although it tasted good. We also stopped for our lunch in the American Experience at the Smokehouse for some bbq and a cupcake. Z had some brisket with collards and cornbread. He didn’t really comment on the beef but he did comment on the collards. Up to now they were one of two foods I’ve heard him say he doesn’t like and wouldn’t eat. Kraut being the other. I don’t know why he went for this dish in light of that–but he did. At some point while eating he said the collards were good. So, chalk one up for Disney. I can’t believe it. I didn’t try them and am not all that convinced myself. I had a Pulled Pork & Slaw Slider. It was really big enough to be called a full size sandwich. The pork was smokey and salty and tasty with the slaw being pretty standard but providing sweet crunch. Random side note. I tried to get some of the squirt-on sauce from the napkin/sauce stand and it was so slippery from millions of hands that it fell in my sandwich. The staff gracefully traded me for a new sandwich and I skipped the sauce. That said, it wasn’t dry or unflavorful although I didn’t dare to try the sauce again. Sandwich trade-ins going only so far. Anyhow, all that said and I still say I’d eat it again. I also ordered a ‘Piggylicious’ (for Miss Piggy and the new movie) Maple Bacon Cupcake. They weren’t joking. A yellow cake (yum) cupcake filled with lardons of sliced cooked smoked applewood bacon. Kind of intense. I don’t love that baconcandonowronginallthings although I always want to. The maple frosting was delicious and covered with a fresh (read that as crunchy) pile of pretzel chunks. The cupcake was large enough to share and feel like you got a fair amount.
We had fastpass+ the ride ‘Living with the Land’ in the Land Pavilion. Seems funny but we really like this ‘ride’ where you sail through some fantastic experimental gardens where they encourage me to grow things at home. They are growing all manner of things in a giant greenhouse and in really creative ways. They’ve got everything from Brussels Sprouts (see the photo-they are amazing!) to 9 pound lemons to enormous suspended tomato, pumpkin and other vines. I really want to grow more food. It’s not easy though and I need to figure out where to gain some help with that. We have a whole empty backyard beckoning. I think stand up beds may be in my future.
We took an afternoon break by riding Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Seriously, have you ever been on this ride? 45 minutes in a giant car driving around a soundstage with dinosaurs interspersed with Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye teaching about energy. Soo random and funny. Somehow we never heard of this ride before. It had kind of a fantastic dinosaur thing in the middle with fire, animatronics, water, etc. You should ride this ride although timing is key here because it is 45 minutes and we walked in with no wait which was ideal. Using the park daily guide would help with this.
Dinner. We headed over to Canada a bit early to catch the Oh Canada 360 show featuring Canadian funny guy Martin Short. You enter the sort of mine shaft by walking through a high walled Rocky Mountain experience of high walls and a rush of water and exit by walking out through an exhibit of more flowers similar to how they look at Butchart Gardens in BC. I’ve been there (BC) many times and this really does have that feeling which for me is like home. We walked into Le Cellier which is in the bottom or cellar of some French looking hotel style building. We were shown to our table after a short wait and took some time to read over the menu. Our Canadian (super friendly I must say) server asked if we needed help with the menu but for your average foodie it is fairly standard steakhouse/cheffy type food-the only thing I questioned was ‘poutine’, which was in quotes. So, ‘poutine’ in quotes at Disney is fries with stuff on top. Since I pretty much always want fries with stuff I ordered those to go with our meal and they arrived smothered with super-sharp Canadian Cheddar, shaved black truffles and a small pitcher of red wine reduction. I actually don’t love truffles and could have done without them – but that cheese and wine sauce-delicious!!!
We started out with their bread basket and butter. The butter was super fresh and sprinkled with maple sugar. Love that. The basket included amazing pretzel sticks-big, soft and salt flecked-so great I wanted more! There was also a nice sourdough roll that was really sour and a multigrain roll that we skipped-I mean really. You have the draw the line somewhere. We ordered a super porky pork belly starter. I am getting over my …hatred of fatty textures but this one pushed me. Super fatty. How do you get past that chew? Only by super taste. My main course was short ribs and this was as good as any I’ve had, super tender and a huge portion really. Some pearls of carrots and an unidentifiable (really) spherified whitish/yellow ball along with garlic chips and pickled veg on top. This is one of the dishes I long to make at home but is just never as good as fine dining no matter how much work I put into it. So good. Z had a filet with mushroom sauce that was super rich and almost, he said, ‘too truffly.’ That’s saying something because black truffles are a flavor he likes a lot. We were so stuffed we passed on dessert. This was a really solid meal. It had a pretty hefty Disney tax but they also worked it really hard. We weren’t rushed and the service was friendly and good. If you can get a reservation and have a couple of spare Disney Dining Plan meals (the way to go for this one!) or just want to go all out it is definitely worth while. I suppose you could also hang a left at that great big Epcot ball and head north too but this is worth the shorter trip. If you are local and have a chance to hit the Flower & Garden show, it runs through May 18th.