Monsieur Paul has been one of the best signature restaurants in Walt Disney World since it opened in December 2012. Sitting almost hidden in the France pavilion at Epcot, the restaurant is found behind the Chefs de France restaurant, up on the 2nd floor of the building. Since its opening, Monsieur Paul has offered guests a culinary adventure into traditional and modern French cuisine.
Now, before we go any further, I do have to address a personal bias. I figured I would put it out there right off the bat so you know where I’m coming from. Monsieur Paul is my favourite restaurant at Walt Disney World. There’s something about the atmosphere, the food and the overall experience that has made it my favourite (which I’ll get into in the 10¢ section). I’ve been lucky enough to dine here a few times and I can honestly say that, even with my expectations high, I’ve never been disappointed.
So that should give you some perspective on where I’m coming from for this review. If you’d like to skip ahead to the final verdict, scroll down to our Disney QUIPS below. Now on to the good stuff!
Paul was actually a real person. Master chef Paul Bocuse was a large part of defining French cuisine around the world for more than 50 years. He was also one of a trio of French chefs, alongside Roger Vergé and Gaston LeNôtre, to open Les Chefs de France in Epcot in 1982. On the quick success of Les Chefs de France, a signature dining restaurant, Bistro de Paris was created upstairs on the 2nd floor in 1984. Showcasing a gourmet French menu, Bistro de Paris remained open until July 2012 when it was to be reimagined as Monsieur Paul.
Monsieur Paul, as we know it today, paid homage to Paul Bocuse’s global influence on the French culinary culture. The current restaurant is led by head chef Nicolas Lemoyne, who honed his skills at one of Paul’s restaurants, l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges. Paul’s legacy continues with this restaurant, as his son, Jerome, owns the company behind Monsieur Paul.
Monsieur Paul is one of the few restaurants at Walt Disney World to be open only for dinner each day. Guests can reserve a table as early as 5:30pm each day and typically as late as 8:30pm.
There is a loosely-followed dress code where men are encouraged to wear khakis, slacks or dress shorts and collared shirts. Women must wear Capri pants, skirts, dresses or dress shorts. Ultimately, the restaurant recognizes that guests may have spent the day in the parks, but it is still signature dining and they have an atmosphere to maintain. Just don’t look like a slob and you’ll probably fit in just fine.
The menu at Monsieur Paul currently offers guests a choice of dining à la carte or two distinct prix fixe menus – a four-course “prestige” menu or a seven-course tasting menu. Regardless of which direction you choose, you will be treated to classic gourmet French cuisine.
The exterior of Monsieur Paul is quite subtle. In fact, you can’t see the restaurant from the walkway around the World Showcase Lagoon. You have to enter the France pavilion, pass Chefs de France and turn around before you’ll see the double doors with the signature black awning overtop.
Since being reimagined, Monsieur Paul has a slightly less formal feel to the décor, but that doesn’t make it any less elegant. While the exterior may be subtle, the interior has had a fair amount of attention paid to it. Upon entering, you’ll find the maître d’ who is there to welcome you and check you in for your reservation. The hallway straight in front of you leads into the back end of Chefs de France, but an intricate spiral staircase on the right is the invitation upstairs to Monsieur Paul. When your table is ready, you will be led up the stairs, past the various photos of Paul, into the main dining room.
Once upstairs, you’ll see walls of white and a tan/taupe colour. The carpet is a largely purple colour, approaching burgundy, with blue, green, tan and red lined-patterns woven throughout. The seating is a mixture of a wine-coloured purple and olive green. None of the colours are meant to be overpowering, but they do convey a sense of whimsy to the restaurant.
Again, this is an elegant restaurant, but I wouldn’t call it stuffy or full of itself. It has many elements of modern design to maintain the fine dining atmosphere, while in a comfortable setting.
The best feature of the restaurant is perimeter wall, which has many large windows, giving guests a glimpse over the World Showcase. If you have an opportunity to ask, the tables beside the windows are the best seats in the house.
Looking at the cost at Monsieur Paul, you have to keep a few things in mind. Firstly, this is considered a signature dining restaurant. That means that you are paying a premium for excellent food and service. Unless money is no option for you, Lauren and I would consider dining here as a special event. We dined here after our engagement and on our honeymoon. Unfortunately, it’s not on our must-do list for every trip to Walt Disney World. It’s certainly on my want-to-do list every time, but alas…I’ll just keep bugging Lauren until we can come up with another special event to justify celebrating.
The second thing to keep in mind is that, if you are on the Disney Dining Plan, Monsieur Paul will require 2 table-service credits (or just 2 credits if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan Plus or Deluxe Dining Plan). Breaking down the costs (which I love to do), Monsieur Paul is actually one of the restaurants where it is a good use of 2 credits. Just make sure you plan the rest of your dining accordingly as you’ll be down an extra credit. It’s always worthwhile to ask your server what is included for your 2 credits as you can typically order à la carte and receive an entrée and dessert. It’s worth noting that you can also pay a small upcharge to use your credits towards the prix fixe menu as well, so make sure to ask your server ahead of time.
For those paying out of pocket, as I mentioned earlier, you have a few options available to you.
À la carte
Dining à la carte can get a little pricey, but it gives you the freedom to pick and choose which items look best to you. It’s also an opportunity to share an hors d’oeuvre or dessert among a couple people. In general, expect the hors d’oeuvres to be in the $15 – $20 USD range. Entrées are somewhere in the $40 – $50 USD range and desserts are $14 – $15 USD.
There is a Prix Fixe menu available, which currently sits at $89 USD per person. It includes three courses and a dessert. While your selection of dishes in each course may be limited, it does tend to offer dishes that you wouldn’t find à la carte.
Of course, if you do want to feel fancy, the Prix Fixe Tasting Menu offers 7 courses of pre-selected dishes for you to enjoy. That indulgence will set you back $119 USD, though you can take comfort in the fact that it pales in comparison to the 7-course meal at Victoria & Albert’s ($185).
One thing to note…none of the menu prices include alcoholic beverages, and Monsieur Paul has an extensive wine list to choose from. There are certainly suggested wines with each dish, but if you’re looking to indulge a little more conservatively, pick a single glass of wine you’d like to enjoy over the course of dinner.
This is where the review can get a little tricky. As a signature restaurant, Monsieur Paul routinely changes the menu based on the seasons and to avoid complacency. While you may be making your dining reservations 180 days out, the menu may not necessarily be the same by the time you visit.
That being said, the dishes on offer may change, but the techniques used to prepare them remain consistent in French cuisine.
Expect entrées that include a series of fresh fish dishes, at least one duck dish and, of course, some form of steak (filet mignon is French, after all).
For Lauren and I, we chose to share a Poached Pear and Endive salad, with Roquefort cheese and caramelized walnuts. Lauren loves a strong cheese and that Roquefort did not disappoint. I require that to be toned down a little and so the poached pears really balanced the dish. Lauren made sure to mention she would order that again in a heartbeat.
For our entrées, Lauren ended up with an Oven-baked Rolled Salmon, parmesan, butternut squash and a beurre blanc. I ended up with the Grilled Beef Tenderloin with a rutabaga purée, Brussels sprouts, a creamy sauce and beef jus reduction. I have yet to be disappointed by a dish at Monsieur Paul and both of these dishes delivered in terms of taste.
French desserts are an artform. Just a stroll through Les Halles Boulangerie Pattisserie will show you the breadth of this particular culinary art. For us, Lauren’s macaron with sorbet was the most delicate way to end the meal. I myself, love a little pagentry, and so I opted for the Milk Chocolate Sphere on a chocolate almond cake, praline and chocolate cream inside with a light hazelnut biscuit and chocolate ice cream. Once it reached our table, our server poured warm chocolate over top and the milk chocolate sphere melted away, almost blooming like a flower in front of me.
All this is to say that even though most of our dishes no longer appear on the menu, there are always a wide variety of dishes to choose from. Unless, of course, you choose the 7-course tasting menu. There are no substitutions there.
The single greatest meal I have ever had was at Monsieur Paul. Years ago, I had a Filet Mignon with a mushroom crust on top and if I close my eyes and think hard enough, I can still remember how it tasted. It was a perfect dish. Sadly, as the seasonal menus changed, it no longer graces the restaurant. I can only hope that someday, it will make its way back to Monsieur Paul, in which case, you’ll find me on the first flight down to Orlando to savour that dish one more time.
With the price point, this really can’t be an every-trip-type of restaurant. Sadly, it has to remain my favourite restaurant to visit…infrequently. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe visiting too often would set myself up for disappointment. Worse yet, maybe I would get tired of dining at Monsieur Paul. I can’t really imagine that scenario happening, but I’ll try to convince myself of that to soften the blow of not dining there every trip.
If you’re willing to splurge a little bit, Monsieur Paul does not disappoint. Be prepared for an authentic French dining experience from the moment you walk up that spiral staircase. This would probably make for the perfect date night dinner at Disney. I know that some families do visit, but I feel like the quality of the food would be lost on anyone young enough to order from the kids’ menu. Conversely, Monsieur Paul can be a great opportunity to expand a budding palate, provided you don’t have picky eaters.
I would highly recommend experiencing Monsieur Paul at least once. The sooner you do, the sooner you can realize what a hidden gem it is and you (like me) can start dreaming of the next time you’ll dine there.
Disney Dining QUIPS – Monsieur Paul
Quick – Signature fine dining, blending classic French cuisine with modern culinary techniques. Offering dishes à la carte, off of a 4-course Prix Fixe menu or a 7-course tasting menu, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Unique – Up on the 2nd floor, above Chefs de France, it doesn’t get more authentically French than Monsieur Paul. The cuisine, the atmosphere and the view over the World Showcase all to make this one unforgettable experience.
Impressions – A modern décor sets the stage for an elegant, yet relaxed meal. Asking for a table near the windows along the perimeter can make the difference between a great meal and a superb meal. Otherwise, anything on the menu would be a good choice. Dine à la carte if you plan to share, or the 4-course Prix Fixe menu if you’d like to try more (and you brought an empty stomach).
Palate – It’s hard to go wrong here. French dishes are prepared with such care and an entire history behind them. The menu plays to the strengths of French cuisine so bon appetit!
Skip or Stay – In a word…stay! In two words…definitely stay! In 8 words…why haven’t you dined at Monsieur Paul yet? Make it a must-do item at least once.