Last month I had the pleasure of good company and good food at Biergarten Restaurant in the World Showcase section of Epcot. The Germany Pavilion is one of the most popular locations in all of the World Showcase thanks to the popularity of a great smelling Werther’s Karamell Kuche shop and fantastic shopping. To top it all off, front and center within the faux Bavarian Village, stands the German buffet, Biergarten.
I’ve dined at Biergarten a handful of times since 2005 and while my first visit didn’t have me jumping up and down, I’ve since learned to adore the restaurant and I find that it’s constantly on my “must-do” list. It took a little growing up on my part to learn to be adventurous enough to try new things that aren’t typical American fare. In my opinion, if you’re looking for a dining experience that is a little daring but not too crazy, Biergarten is a great fit. Given that it is a buffet, you’re sure to find something that everyone in your party will enjoy.
The atmosphere is easily one of the best in all of Walt Disney World. From the second you’re welcomed into the restaurant, the liveliness and party-like atmosphere gets you feeling all excited for what’s to come. What I love is that when you come inside the restaurant, you’re actually stepping outside… into a German village’s Oktoberfest celebration. If your dining party isn’t big enough to fill an entire table (about eight seats), you’ll be introduced to your new dining comrades before you’re seated. The seating is tiered and curved in to face a center stage and dance floor where the entertainment takes place. Many people raise an eyebrow to the idea of dining with perfect strangers but most of the time you’ll end up sitting with very nice chatty people or folks that just keep to themselves. I’ve only heard of a few negative experiences with the seating assignments, so really, try not to be worried.
Our Advanced Dining Reservation time was at 5:30 p.m. and we only waited about five minutes before we were invited inside the restaurant. Luckily, Biergarten is one of the best places to get a last minute Advanced Dining Reservation since there are many tables to fill. So, even if you decide to dine there on a whim, you’ve got a good chance of getting in. My group of four twenty-somethings was seated with a nice elderly couple and their two grandchildren. My eyes got huge when I noticed that we were getting escorted all the way down to the lower tier of the restaurant, closest to the stage. I’d never been so close before! If being right up by the stage is something that is important to you, you may want to mention it to the hostess as you’re checking in for your reservation. I personally like to be where all the action is so being dead center had me pumped!
Our German waiter took our drink orders right away and answered any questions that we had. I decided to try the beer flight which I’ve always wanted. I absolutely loved it and felt it was worth the money. The two men in our group got the Oktoberfest. When the waiter asked if they wanted it “German size” the guys looked at each other with a smirk and said, “Yes!” Little did they know that “German size” is Biergarten talk for “Super duper size.” When the beers came out the expression on their faces was priceless. Our other dining partner ordered a glass of German Riesling. I assume it was good because it was gone pretty quickly.
The entertainment is on a regular schedule and the band started up just as we were heading up to the buffet line. The buffet is double sided with the same choices on each side starting on the outside and working inward. You’ll find salads, soups, and numerous cold salads (both tame and adventurous) at the start of the buffet. As you go further down the line you’ll come across the expected German foods such as herring, bratwurst, pork schnitzel, spaetzle, and my personal favorite… red cabbage. The great thing about a buffet is that if you aren’t sure that you’ll like something, you can just take a little and find out. The big hits for my group included the sausage, herring salad, salmon, and of course every human beings favorite… macaroni and cheese. The only negative comment that made its way around my group was that the infamous pretzel roll was too hard to enjoy.
After all that I can’t believe we actually had room for dessert. I find the dessert at Biergarten to just be alright but maybe it’s because my stomach was entirely too full to enjoy much else. My husband loved the creamy vanilla pudding while my friend could have eaten ten slices of Bavarian cheesecake. While I was finishing up my beer flight, I saw one of my male traveling partners FLY across the table. I looked up just in enough time to see Ben putting out flames that started when the elderly gentleman set his napkin on a candle. I live for total excitement like that! I’m sure when you dine at Biergarten now, you’re going to move the candle far far away from you in hopes of avoiding a possible mini bonfire. Definitely something I’d recommend.
For those of you curious about the entertainment at Biergarten, a wildly popular oompah band will delight you if you’re looking for some fun. If you want a nice quiet German restaurant to hold hands with your lover, this is not the right place for you. The band has you clapping and clanking glasses frequently. They do a little “beer ceremony” and numerous other entertainment acts. Children (well, adults too) are welcomed onto the dance floor to get their German groove on. I like this part because, well, I like laughing and pointing at others doing what I only wish I were brave enough to do.
Biergarten was a true hit for my group. None of us left there sober (duh) but we all left with huge overstuffed smiling bellies. While the food and lively entertainment aren’t for everyone, they normally pleases those who are looking for decent food and a good time. Keep in mind that the lunch and dinner offerings are just slightly different. If you’re paying out of pocket, go at lunch time to save some money. However, spend lots of money on beer. Prost!