Where to eat? Lunch at Walt's at Disneyland Paris
Written by Robert NilesWalt's at Disneyland Paris for years has lurked near the top of Theme Park Insider's reader ratings for the world's best theme park restaurants, but rarely passes the minimum-votes threshold to be considered for our annual award in that category. Still, those high marks a few of you have given Walt's encouraged me to book a reservation for lunch on the day of my first-ever visit to Disneyland Paris this week.
Published: July 19, 2012 at 5:48 PM
Walt's is located on Main Street USA in the Paris park, in same center-street, corner location as the newly-expanded Carnation Cafe in California's original Disneyland. But Walt's offers a seating amenity not available to guests on either Main Street in the American Disney parks - the chance to go upstairs and view Main Street from the second floor. (Okay, that's the "first floor" in Europe, but we're going to stick with the American vernacular here to preserve my sanity while writing.)
A view from inside Walt's
After confirming our reservation, the host in the Victorian-inspired lobby directed us up the stairs where we met another host, who led us to our table in the Grand Canyon room, overlooking Main Street.
Walt's serves American food… as envisioned by someone grounded in French technique. Selections are available a la carte, or in one of three multi-course menus, with three options presented for each course. On "The Classic Selection" menu (40.50 € or US$49.72), one option for each course is labeled "Walt's Gourmet Selection."
So, of course, that's what I selected, too.
Before we go any further, let's just note the hilarity of any food item ever being called "Walt's Gourmet" anything. This was a man who loved canned chili, and whose wife complained he was happier in a greasy spoon than eating in some fancy French restaurant. Nevertheless, in Disneyland Paris, Walt is honored with… a fancy French restaurant.
And yet, someone on Walt's staff seems to have understood this irony, for the main course on "Walt's Gourmet Selection" is… a hamburger. Okay, it's a hamburger topped with foie gras, but still, it's a burger. "Walt's Gourmet Burger" is served with sea-salt-topped, pan-fried, now-illegal-in-California foie gras, presented with a roasted red pepper, lettuce and raw sliced red onion on a three-seed bun. Waffle fries accompany the burger, which is available for 28.99 € a la carte.
The silky foie gras made the underlying burger taste a bit dry in comparison. I'd asked for mine cooked medium, but wish I'd gone with medium rare, to provide a little juicer patty to stand up to the foie gras. (If you've not had foie gras before, Walt's tastes a bit like really good farm-fresh eggs you'd whipped with cream and scrambled in loads of bacon grease, but with a consistency closer to a thick slice of good, silken tofu.)
For the appetizer (entree in French - and, yeah, that confuses the heck out of thousands of American visitors every year. Disney punts on the issue by opting for the term "starters"), Walt's Gourmet Selection offered a trio of crab tartar with sesame wafer, cold smoked salmon over carrots, and a cucumber-feta smoothie.
I could write about the salmon or the crab salad, but let's face it, you stopped reading at "cucumber-feta smoothie." There it is, over on the right, with a snippet of a cheap, plastic bendie straw sticking from it. (Perhaps Walt would have approved of that common-man touch. Or, "Walt's" had a moment of just going cheap.) The smoothie tasted just as you might suspect - like a cucumber blended with just enough feta to give it a creamy texture, without diluting the cucumber taste. There's a little cube of feta awaiting you at the bottom of the cup, too. Yeah, I finished it, but let's not forget that I'm from California. People routinely drink the produce section here.
Laurie and Natalie each opted for the slightly less expensive three-course Menu (33.99 € or US$41.72). Natalie chose the Caesar salad for her first course. Loaded with grilled chicken, boiled egg slices and cherry tomatoes, the salad (10.99 € a la carte) could work as the entire meal for many Disney visitors.
Laurie chose the green asparagus and arugula salad with peppers and tarragon vinaigrette, served with goat's cheese flavored with chorizo (also 10.99 € a la carte), which she declared her favorite course of the meal.
For the main courses, Natalie opted for the grilled sirloin steak with Béarnaise sauce and new potatoes, served with a side salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette (23.99 € a la carte).
And Laurie chose the risotto with seasonal vegetables (19.99 € a la carte), which also happened to be the one and only "vegetarian selection" noted on the menu. (If you're a vegan thinking about a trip to Europe, well, I hope you really, really like bread.)
Natalie, filled up with salad, didn't eat much of her steak, and Laurie bailed on the risotto after several rich bites, opting to mix it up a bit by raiding Natalie's roasted potatoes. But everyone rallied when our desserts arrived.
There's Natalie's molten chocolate cake, served with brownie ice cream and a ganache-filled chocolate on the side (8.99 € a la carte).
And Laurie's French toast made with spice bread, served with a chocolate baton, spicy chocolate sauce, and cinnamon ice cream (also 8.99 € a la carte).
My "Walt's Gourmet Selection" was another sampler, with mini version of the chocolate cake, a fruit salad of mango, melon and kiwi served in a chocolate shell, a Crème brûlée, and my favorite touch - a peanut butter mini macaroon, served on a skewer with strawberries.
Yup, a French-ified PB&J.
Walt's Gourmet, indeed.
Reservations to Walt's, or any other Disneyland Paris table-service restaurant, are available by calling 011-33-01-60-30-40-50 from the United States or Canada. International rates apply. English-speaking operators are available to take your reservation.
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