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Where to eat? Lunch at Walt's at Disneyland Paris

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Published: July 19, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Walt'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.

Outside Walt's

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.)

The view
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.

In the Grand Canyon room

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.

Walt's Gourmet Burger

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.

Appetizer trio

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.

Caesar salad

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.

Green asparagus and salad

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).

Sirloin steak

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.)

Risotto

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.

Chocolate cake

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).

Dessert French toast

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).

Dessert trio

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.

Readers' Opinions

From Chad H on July 19, 2012 at 6:17 PM
At thirty freaking Euro, it had better be the best burger you'd ever eaten, never mind what's on it.
From Robert Niles on July 19, 2012 at 6:33 PM
I'd never order by the item at Walt's - definitely the menus are the way to go. At 29 euro, the burger's a bad deal, but with the appetizer and dessert trios in 40 euro menu? That's a lot more reasonable.
From Brandon Townsend on July 19, 2012 at 6:42 PM
So, basically have to rob Walt's Bank before taking your family to his restaurant?
The food does look good. And it may be worth it to eat there to enjoy the Main Street view from on high.
From James Rao on July 19, 2012 at 7:41 PM
As I sit and gnaw on leftovers from a few nights ago, my jealousy spills over like lava from a volcano.

Whether it was good or not, the food certainly looks amazing!

From Andrew Swanson on July 20, 2012 at 1:44 AM
"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."

While you tried to devise a pantomime routine to tell the host your seating time, did he stride toward you with your priority seating ticket in his hand and ask, "Mr. Robert Niles?"

From Dominique Mol on July 20, 2012 at 3:55 AM
I think the Walt restaurant doesn't receive as many votes since most readers of your blog are U.S.A. based and so haven't been to Disneyland Paris yet..?

The fact is though it really is a little hidden gem in the park, all too often I read about people visiting DLRP and complaining about the junk food that's being offered, many people who are not Disney maniacs do not realize there are several excelent restaurants in and around the parks that serve up perfectly fine food. And if you check out the set menu offers, there are menu's starting at around 29 euro's at Walt's for a two course meal.

I do think that DLRP is not really promoting the restaurant options all too well, opening times are nowhere to be found and strangely enough they planned the daytime parade at 19.00 o'clock .. wich is the prime time to have dinner, wich seems so strange to me.

Also really worth a visit is the Inventions buffet restaurant in the Disneyland hotel, more expensive at 59 euro's for an adult or 29 euro's for a child, but the location is awesome, the choises are superb and Disney characters roam the tables all evening, that and you get a view down mainstreet towards the castle!

a good place I always start is http://www.dlrpmagic.com/planning/dining/restaurant-menus/ wich gives way more information and all the menu's that the official website does not.(they really could do a better job at the official website)

I'll be there the first weekend of August en look forward to enjoying a diner at the blue lagoon (inside the potc attraction) Walt's and the Inventions restaurant.

From Robert Niles on July 20, 2012 at 9:40 AM
Nice one, Andrew.

Actually, the front desk host at Walt's was multilingual (as are many of the cast members at DLP). We were noted in the reservation system as English-speaking, so we were given English menus and assigned an English-speaking waitress.

That said, my daughter takes French, and she helped us learn enough of the language to order entirely in French at the counter service places.

From Russell Meyer on July 20, 2012 at 10:54 AM
40 Euros is actually pretty reasonable for any meal in Europe these days. When we were in Sweden and Denmark this past winter, even fast food meals were running us between $15-$20, so a nice sit down meal at 40 Euros is rather economical, particularly inside a theme park. I don't know why, but food in Europe has gotten seriously expensive over the past 10-15 years, and it seems that a good rule of thumb is to plan on spending 50% more more an identical meal in Europe than you'd spend on a meal in the US. Of course that doesn't even include the drinks, which are single serve in Europe compared to their bottomless counterparts in the US.
From Dominique Mol on July 20, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Russel, you are right, food has gotten more expensive, but do realise that in Europe the service is included in the prices you see. Besides that it is amazing to us Europeans how cheap food is in the States and especially the enormous portions you get for your money.
From Anthony Murphy on July 20, 2012 at 9:23 PM
The facinating thing I always found about DLP was the amount of American food they try to emulate in the parks. Its almost freaky.

Anyway, the food at DLP (and France) is usually pretty top notch. I actually like, god help me, Chicago Steakhouse. As a native Chicagoian, I was impressed. The service at the place was outstanding!

From Caroline Davis on July 21, 2012 at 5:06 PM
I love Walt's. Been there twice, shame the menu isn't as good as it was about 5-7 years ago. It's still a hidden treasure in the park, but when I first went there it was spectacular.

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