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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Did Disney’s “Be Our Guest” Restaurant Redeem Itself After All These Years?

 by Beth Keating



December 21, 2021


Be Our Guest has been a restaurant of extremes over the years – sometimes revered and sometimes reviled for its menu.  Despite its stunning theming, there have been great swings in both the quality and the content of the menu.  


Our first trip to Be Our Guest when it opened years ago was for breakfast. It was the only reservation we could get in an era when Be Our Guest reservations were extremely hard to come by.  We counted ourselves fortunate, though, and the fact that it was on the Disney Dining Plan made it both an excellent value and a pretty tasty meal.


Over time, we’ve tried the locale on a few more occasions, with varying results.  There was the dinner with elementary-aged kids, where the entrées had a more distinctly upscale French flair, and we spent a lot of money on meals the kids simply didn’t eat. Then there was a later trip, where the food was just “meh.”  We did like the hybrid sit-down quick-service lunch that was a mid-point between the typical counter service and a sit down meal that existed for a while.  You ordered at a counter, but your food was brought to your table via an adorable glass topped waiter’s cart. Then our final attempt was perhaps prophetic for us.  We were scheduled for breakfast, and just a few moments after our plates were delivered, fire alarms went off and the restaurant was evacuated. Needless to say, we’ve had a checkered past with Be Our Guest.


With things at many Disney World restaurants getting definite changes in the days following the COVID closures, we decided to give the restaurant another go.  As schedules would have it, we were able to dine at Be Our Guest twice, several weeks apart, at a lunch with one set of guests, and then a dinner seating with different guests.  Since both of those menus are identical at the current moment, we got a chance to see if the meals had changed, and whether the meals were consistent during different times of the day.  (Breakfast is not being offered right now, but our server assured us they are working on bringing it back soon.)


There are three dining rooms available at the large eatery. You can “dine in palatial splendor,” as the promos say, in the Grand Ball Room, with its bright, high domed, cherub-painted ceiling, chandeliers and Gothic arches, all accompanied by a view into a courtyard where falling snow straight out of the movie enchants.  The Beast’s West Wing study is dark and foreboding. Thunder rumbles, and Beast’s glass-domed rose waits in a corner.  In the Castle Gallery, a life-sized spinning “music box” featuring a dancing sculpture of Belle and Beast dominates Belle’s private library.  The sculpture is said to be a gift from her father, Maurice. 


Guests used to be able to meet Beast at dinner in the “before times,” but now Beast makes a few passes through the rooms to wave to guests throughout your dining experience. 


The meals are pay-one-price for both lunch and dinner, at an adult price of $62 and children’s meal of $37.  Guests get a choice of an appetizer, entrée and dessert.  The only difference between our two recent visits was the addition of a 50th anniversary specialty dish, the “Captain Nemo Octopus,” a seaweed salad, with cucumber, pickled beets, hearts of palm, tapioca crackers, beets mousse, and carrot-ginger silk.  Even our calamari-loving diner shied away from that option, however, so we can’t share much on that front.


Instead, our diners opted for the French onion soup, topped with loads of melty, toasty Gruyère and Provolone, and the Maine lobster bisque made with crème fraîche.  Both soups were excellent, and the lobster bisque received high marks from our seatmates for the amount of poached lobster included in their bowl.  The bisque was creamy, with just a touch of heat on the follow-through.  


The onion soup, the recommended specialty of the house according to our waitress, was distinctly flavorful without being overly salty. There were tons of onion ribbons in the rich, golden brown broth, and Lumière himself had melted the cheese on top for us, assured our server (wink, wink for a little movie humor).   


Along with our soups, a basket of rustic rolls with salted butter appeared on our table.  It was, perhaps, the least magical part of our meal because they were just standard rolls.  


If we had chosen to forego soup in the hot Florida weather, we could have also selected a plate of mixed field greens, or an assorted meats and artisanal cheese board, a simple yet tasty selection for which guests on our second visit opted.


Diners can select one of six different entrées for their meal, ranging from Herb-salted Pork Tenderloin; Vadouvan Spiced Vegetables; Center-cut Filet Mignon; Pan-seared Sea Scallops; or Poulet Rouge Chicken, a savory bread pudding and seasonal vegetables with a chicken glace.

At both of our meals, most of our diners opted for the Center-cut Filet Mignon. Served with creamy, smooth Robuchon Yukon Potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and cipollini-garlic purée with a red wine purée, the dish was substantial.  Our plates had an array of cherry tomatoes and a lightly dressed spinach alongside crisp green beans.  (Most of us felt the beans would have benefitted from a few more minutes of steaming). The consensus among guests was that the beef was excellently seasoned, and the cuts of meat were well chosen.  The gravy was not overly heavy, and did not detract from the flavor of the meat.  While not the finest Filet Mignon we’ve had on Disney property, no one was disappointed with their selection of the Filet. 

The desserts were delicious as well.  With the exception of the special 50th anniversary offering, the Ned Land Sea Cake, diners receive a tray with all three desserts to sample.  The 50th Anniversary Ned Land Sea Cake (a tip of the hat to the “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” attraction that used to be where Be Our Guest is now) is a lemon and strawberry shell cake and pistachio microwave cake with chocolate rocks, Grey Stuff, and Swedish Fish.  


For everyone choosing the traditional route, your plate will include a Lemon Jam Macaron; an uber-cute white chocolate "Chip" cup that looks just like Chip from the movie, filled with Grey Stuff and crispy pearl decorations; and a Dark Chocolate Truffle with Dark Chocolate Grand Marnier Ganache.  Our macron was chewy, yet unexpectedly light at the same time, with a hint of raspberry flavor.  The truffle was super rich and decadently soft and almost fudge-like.  The edible chocolate “Chip” cup was filled with really fluffy “Grey Stuff” cookies and cream panna cotta, which was delicious.  Don’t believe us? Ask the dishes.  (So sorry… it had to be said!)


We did not have any kids dining with us, but their choices include Grilled Beef Tenderloin or Pan-seared Chicken Breast served with a choice of an appetizer, two sides, one dessert, and choice of small milk, water, or apple juice.


The end result?  These meals at Be Our Guest were far superior to our earlier forays into the castle.  As big Beauty and the Beast movie fans, earlier jaunts to Beast’s home were simply to get the chance to see the inside of the castle (dining is the only way to do so), and the food was merely secondary to the experience.  Now we can add that the food is an enjoyable part of the visit as well.





Beth Keating is a regular contributor to DisneyBizJournal.


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