This Is A French Restaurant…

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“This is a French restaurant.” That is what my server felt necessary to point out when I asked what the vegan options are at Monsieur Paul. A French restaurant? Really? I had no idea! The fact that it’s a) called “Monsieur Paul b) located in the France Pavillion at Epcot and c) a mere few feet away from a giant replica of La Tour Eiffel did not tip me off.

I realize that traditional French fare is not typically plant-centric. Being in a theme park and not traipsing around the 5th arrondissement, however, I figured I would be met with the typical Disney restaurant procedure: ask if anything is vegan, explain what “vegan” means, then usually talk with a chef about things that can be created, or menu items that can be modified. Instead, at Monsieur Paul, I was told that there was nothing available to meet my requests, but the server guessed they could make me a salad (a French salad, I hoped!).

Unfortunately, there was no vegan option for an appetizer, or an amuse bouche so I settled on sparkling water, until my entree arrived. The entree was good, and may deserve an extra bunch of kale on top of the rating given, but the journey to said entree was disappointing.

So, what did I eat? I was served hash brown potatoes, over grilled potatoes, over asparagus and carrots, over leeks, with a side of potato beignets. Yes, lots of potato. The presentation was pretty, and I must say the triple potato whammy was the best part. Though everything was a bit overly greasy and salty, in the end, I appreciated the effort and managed to eat every bite. 

 

For dessert, I was served raspberry sorbet, strawberry sorbet with raspberries.  This is a fairly standard vegan dessert option at just about every Walt Disney World restaurant, and is always a delightful end to any meal.

Now, I get it. I understand menus are written to please the general public, and not always with special diets in mind. I also am well aware that the vegan diet is not always the easiest to accommodate on the fly. I would have like to feel that someone was trying to give me a good dining experience, though. I’ve had good meals and bad meals while dining in Walt Disney World, but I was extra surprised at the lack of feigned effort at this restaurant. Best part of my meal? The swanky fizzy water.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant for vegans or vegetarians based upon this experience. Maybe we would have better luck in real France.

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Posted on January 15, 2013

67 Responses to “This Is A French Restaurant…”

  • It might not be classic Disney to be treated like that when asking after a vegan option but it was pure, classic French… Full marks for authenticity!

    • Being French myself, I have to agree with David’s comment. Vegans is a concept that doesn’t “exist” in France and most French think that vegetarians eat fish….

  • Be aware, we were told several times on our trip earlier this month that vegetarian soups and dishes contained milk! While I’m not overly familiar with vegan vs vegetarian, this rubbed me the wrong way.

  • Great job Emily! I was very curious about how a vegan would be treated in this restaurant, as I was sorely disappointed when I first saw the menu. The entree did look pretty good though…

  • That’s a bit of a snarky reply to a simple question. I’m not impressed. I already knew I wouldn’t be visiting this restaurant (I’m a vegetarian) but this seals the deal. I can’t stand attitudes like that.

    I have a friend who is a vegan and when she visited France, she was surprised to be accommodated everywhere she went. It took a little explaining, but they seemed to enjoy the challenge.

  • @MegAnn, if you’re not familiar with the meaning of the words vegetarian and vegan maybe you shouldn’t let it bug you that a vegetarian soup would contain a vegetarian ingredient.

    Vegetarians don’t eat meat, some vegetarians eat fish, oddly enough. Vegetarians do consume dairy and other animal products.

    Vegans consume no animal products whatsoever, no meat, no eggs, no honey, no gelatin, no leather, you (hopefully) get the idea.

    I would imagine that if one were to contact Monsieur Paul in advance its more likely they would have been better prepared. I doubt that many French people trouble themselves with dietary restrictions.

  • Oh the irony that a located-at-Disney French restaurant couldn’t manage a plate of ratatouille when asked for a vegan entree!

  • Exactly, Charles! I was just thinking ‘ratatouille’. Our experience in Paris was the same as Jen’s friend: a surprising amount of vegetarian restaurants to be found, and other places where crepes and ratatouille were avail. Sorry your experience at Epcot was disappointing.

    • It was a nice experience to enjoy with friends regardless. I appreciated the effort, and did enjoy what they made for me. I’m so glad to know that real Paris is an option for me now! Thanks for reading!

  • My question to the author would be, did you contact them ahead of time to tell them of your needs? I understand your frustration but I would understand your servers as well.. not to mention hello it’s a french restaurant, aren’t they supposed to be rude lol. j/k, I personally would have looked at the menu ahead of time and if it didn’t show that it didn’t offer any vegan options I would have chosen another place to dine. I can’t really fault the place for not being prepared, although it sounds like to me they did a good job of still fulfilling your request.

    • Hi Rachel! Yes, we did let them know ahead of time. It is often the case at WDW restaurants that even if there is not a vegan option on the menu, there is a regular item that the chefs will prepare upon request, upon arrival. I did see the menu ahead of time, so I knew what I was potentially getting into. I was prepared to eat lettuce, if that’s all they had for me. I was more looking forward to the experience than anything else. I appreciate your comment! Thanks for reading.

      • This is all great info. Thanks for clarifying. I think it is something to note in your next review b/c I know a lot of people who may not know this ahead of time. I would also like to know why it isn’t vegan friendly when you got a vegan friendly meal. Maybe I am missing your guidelines on another portion of the site.

        • I guess I just wouldn’t consider it vegan friendly because while they did end up making something that I enjoyed, it didn’t seem like something they would be adding to their menu any time soon.

        • I would say it is not very vegan friendly! The author let them know her needs ahead of time so it was noted on her reservation. No one let her know they couldn’t accommodate her and then she was told there were no vegan options. I worked in fine dining for years. Most fine dining establishments are prepared with veggie, vegan and gluten-free options. Not impressed with your service or the attitude.

  • I think saying that this is not a vegetarian friendly restaurant is a stretch. Creating a dish for vegetarians is often easier than creating a dish for vegans. They very possibly could have made a more acceptable vegetarian dish with eggs, cheese, and milk.

    As someone who eats vegetarian when not at home, it is frustrating when people don’t know the distinction or combine the two. The foods you can eat are different, so you cannot make an assumption for vegetarians based on your vegan experience.

    • thanks for saying that Lynn I wished she would have established that in the article. It’s much easier to do vegetarian than vegan. That is a very strict diet where I don’t think Crepes would qualify. I’m not sure what’s in ratatouille (think there are different kinds) but that might not be vegan friendly either.

      • Classic ratatouille is, from my understanding of the definition, 100% vegan. It’s basically just eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, pepper, onions, garlic, and oil. That being said, i don’t see any eggplant or zucchini on their menu, so it was likely they didn’t have any or didn’t have any prepped.

        As other have said, i would think calling ahead would be a wise idea if vegan. I think vegetarians are much more easily accommodated on the fly.

        • Well-said, Chris. A good ratatouille usually takes at least two hours to prepare. The vegetables are all cooked separately and layered, not unlike a very intricate lasagna. If it’s not on the menu, they haven’t been prepping it all day. So, it’s not a very easy dish to quickly whip up, like an omelet.

          • I think the point is if they had been alerted ahead of time maybe they would have had it ready to go for them. Making a kitchen do something so specific on the fly is asking a tad bit too much, even for a Disney restaurant.

    • Hi Lynn, thanks for reading. You’re right, the two are very different. I thought it would be helpful to combine them in the review because there are also no vegetarian entrees on the menu. Perhaps a vegetarian would have been offered more options, I definitely should have asked.

  • Meh.
    The server was technically right. Having just completed two French cooking courses, I can’t think of a single dish we made that was “vegan”. Even vegetable dishes are prepared using butter or animal fat. As Disney dining fans, we often gripe when World Showcase restaurants don’t serve AUTHENTIC food (Nine Dragons, anyone?). French people aren’t vegetarians, and like most of the rest of the world, they’re mystified by the concept. To the rest of the world, if comes off as picky and even wasteful. If you wanted American-style French food, you could have gone downstairs to Les Chefs de France.
    I am very sorry that I’m about to offend some people.
    A vegetarian or vegan is not someone with a special dietary requirement. It’s not someone who was told by their doctor that they need to cut all sodium, or that they’re allergic to gluten.
    “Vegetarian” is a fancy word for a picky eater. I know this upsets vegetarians because their reasoning is well-intentioned, admirable and very personal. I completely support their choice to eat or not eat whatever they want.
    However, they are CHOOSING not to eat what’s on the menu. The menu that’s available online. To the restaurant they made an ADR for 180-days in advance.
    I am not saying this to antagonize or lecture vegetarians or vegans; I just feel like sometimes they come off as being a bit entitled. Perhaps we should consider ourselves lucky to be born in a situation where we can turn down perfectly good, nay, AMAZING food for “personal reasons”. That being said, as someone who loves reading restaurant reviews – Disney and otherwise – it annoys me when I read a vegetarian or vegan dump all over a restaurant just because the restaurant THEY chose to dine at wasn’t able or willing to accommodate their picky eating habits. Sorry. I enjoyed the article, though!

    • While I completely agree with you. There are some that make the vegetarian choice for medical reasons at times but that still doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have contacted the place ahead of time. I agree wholeheartedly about the authentic food as well. If you’ve ever heard of Julia Childs you would know she did everything in butter. Lived quite a while too, because that’s what french cooking is. They have never apologized for it either. I know how dietary things are needed. My mom can’t have eggs because of an allergy and can sometimes not handle dairy or sugar but we always tell them ahead of time and they are great at accommodating. I just wish people would stop trying to change an entire menu to fit their needs. I for one would almost like to try this restaurant now b/c the picture above makes the food look delicious and my compliments for to the chef for his creativity.

    • Wow. I find your comment antagonistic and I’m neither vegan nor vegetarian.

    • I agree with Aydin. My son has a rare condition where his body fights most food proteins. His life (and my life) is very difficult. But I do not impose this on the restaurants that we dine at and expect them to meet his needs, and we have several ADR’s for our upcoming trip. In fact, I would be too afraid to trust the chefs to create a meal for him because if they made a mistake, it could cost my son his life. So we bring all of our own food for my son. This is hard when we are staying onsite for a week. But we make it work with the help of wegoshop.com. It’s hard to sympathize with people who won’t eat food because they’d ‘rather not’ and then behave with such entitlement when the restaurant doesn’t immediately have magical meals waiting for them. My son is very young, and he has already grasped this concept. Vegans and vegetarians may live a happier life if they could understand this, too.

      • Very well said. Like I mentioned above I can’t see where the restaurant did a bad thing. Aydin, I’m sorry for what your son is going through. I commend you are bringing him up to know that somethings are just the responsibility of the individual (though in your case I can see a review being needed). There are only a few that might cater to this need but that might be b/c there aren’t as many vegans as one might think, so is it really cost effective to cater to this one need? Unlike Aydin’s case, which is life and death. It would make more sense if this was an article on gluten free dining or allergy related or, if you wanted to deal with a moral compass issue, kosher. But most vegans are not really in it to do anything but make a statement for animals, which is fine but why impose that on a restaurant that has never claimed to be vegan friendly and than beat them up about it? I think it would just be better the list the ones that have vegan friendly menus from the beginning and THAN do reviews on how well they measure up to their claims. To me that would be a true review.

    • Love your response!! Well said

    • Hammer meet nail! Well stated and unfortunately, not often enough. I don’t understand why the author would dine there after viewing the menu ahead of time…unless it was just to disparage the restaurant for not catering to her self-imposed restrictions. Further, why is a “vegan” or “vegetarian” writing restaurant reviews? Maybe she is responsible for investigating vegan adherence in Disney dining, but that seems a bit too specialized of a job description.

      • OK, so evidently it is NOT too specialized for TouringPlans.com. Where can we find other special interest columns such as the best fois gras throughout Disney?

      • Hey Keith, thanks for reading!

        Hardly any menus at WDW restaurants offer a vegan option in writing, but most have always been ready to make one upon request. I have, in fact, been told to just let my server know that I am vegan upon being seated and everything is usually handled on the fly.

        Why is a vegan writing restaurant reviews? Hath not a vegan eyes, Keith? But seriously, I am just here to share my experiences and, hopefully, help people out along the way.

    • Eating vegan is a special dietary requirement. I switched to a plant based (vegan) diet Halloween of 2011 and within 3 months my cholesterol dropped over 150 points out of the heart attack danger zone into the normal zone. There have been many studios done that show the health benefits of eating a plant based diet. The China Study comes to mind.

      So yes I turn down AMAZING food for “personal reasons.” Those reasons being that I get to live longer and spend more YEARS with my family.

      I’ve generally found the chefs at Disney to be excited about cooking something off the menu, I imagine they get bored at their job just like we do sometimes.

      Your points about the menu and such are valid but your comments about picky eaters are off the mark.

      • Congratulations on your success, Buddy!

      • Buddy, congratulations on your success. As someone who is working hard to get healthier, I am in awe of your progress!

        That being said, being vegan is a decision you made, albeit for health reasons. With all due respect, that it the DEFINITION of being a picky eater. Not as an insult, but as a matter of fact – you are PICKING what you will and will not eat. It’s purely for admirable, positive reasons, but let’s be fair; one can also lose weight and lower cholesterol by eating white poultry meat and lean fish, while cutting serving sizes, excess carbs and sugars. You weren’t forced into never having 1% milk or egg whites again – you chose that as your path to success. Which is fine!

        See, I don’t use the term “picky eater” only for people like Len Testa, whose OCD-ish symptoms don’t allow him to eat food that is ‘touching each other’. Or only for people who don’t like raw onions, so they ask to have an onion-free salad.
        The term picky eater applies to anyone who asks the waiter to modify the chef’s creation for ANY reason other than allergic. Some people ask for sauce on the side, some ask to have pepper or cilantro omitted, some ask for vegetable oil instead of butter, some ask to substitute proteins or side dishes.

        Whatever the reasoning, be it admirable for health reasons, or annoying for OCD reasons, whenever you ask the server to make a change, you’re sending a message to the chef. And having many chef/line cook friends, I can tell you that they’re not thrilled when they get these special requests. They have spent months perfectly crafting a dish with well-balanced flavors, and strive to make it consistently perfect. Now, they’re being asked to send it out “wrong”, knowing that they will be criticized for the result – after making something they never advertised! But I digress…

        Buddy, while you fall into a bit of a grey area, where you’re technically choosing what to eat for health reasons, you’re probably wise enough to know that fine French cuisine is among the richest, fattiest in the world, and you probably would not have expected to have a light, healthy meal at Monseur Paul.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Aydin. I understand what you’re saying about being able to enjoy “authentic” food around World Showcase. Any time I have dined at a WDW restaurant, I have been told that my requests for a vegan meal can be arranged upon being seated. There are typically not vegan options on the printed menus, but there is often something that can be made easily. I was simply surprised at the initial reaction I received when I tried to order, since I’ve become used to it not being an issue. Also, when the reservation was made, it was noted that a vegan would be in the party.

      People have a lot of different reasons for being vegetarian or vegan (medical, ethical, religious, etcetera). I wouldn’t consider myself a “picky eater.” Instead, I recognize that I have made a choice to be vegan, and that most of the time, I am lucky to have one option available to me on a menu.

      The intent of the review was not to dump on the restaurant, as I mentioned I enjoyed my meal. I just wanted to share my experience with those who might find it helpful.

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading the article. Thanks again for the comment!

      • I hope you keep writing Vegan restaurant reviews, as I have friends who are vegetarians or vegans, and I would like to know where I can take them if they go down to WDW with us!
        Of course, they won’t take the place of “normal” restaurant reviews, so I am all for different takes on restaurants, dependent on guests’ special needs.

  • I was with Emily at the restaurant and was the one who made the reservation. It was noted on our ADR that we had a vegan dining with us. They did know in advance.

  • There also seems to be an assumption here that “notifying the restaurant in advance” is always an easy thing to do. It’s actually not. For recent trip, I did notify special diets because I have a medically necessary “low-fat” restriction on my diet, along with a few different allergies. I received back a form letter by email, basically telling me that my concerns could be handled upon arrival at the restaurant. In some cases, that was wonderfully true. In many cases, it was most certainly not true. It was handled, but I ended up seeing a lot of plain grilled chicken. Strangely enough, that was something I had said in my original email to special diets that I specifically wished to avoid. In nearly every case, the chef I inevitably had to talk to said that they wish they had had a bit more notice because they could have done something wonderful, rather than merely acceptable. And I very much would’ve liked to have given them that notice, but I was told it wasn’t necessary. Except, obviously it was.

    • Thanks for the comment, Geannie! Which restaurants did you find to be most helpful?

      • Oddly? Ohana! They were TERRIFIC about it. They swapped steamed potstickers for the fried, baked rubbed wings for the fried sauced ones (both of which were tastier than the regular according to table mates) brought rice in place of the noodles, and offered plain veggies, and salad with dressing on the side. I stuck with just a little of the chicken and steak from the skewers (shellfish = death). And they brought me the former pineapple w/ a bit of Caremel for desert. Obviously, not vegan by any streach, but when you rule out both fish and shellfish and have to keep the fat down, it can get complex, since lighter go-to items are often seafood based.

        Strange as I sounds, I was expecting similar at Whispering Canyon. Meat based menu with sides, right? What a nightmare. I had been thinking just take sauces or butter off the corn and veggies, maybe bake a potato, and just have a piece of white meat from their regular chicken. WELL, I got 1 piece of corn and plain veggies, with a plain grilled chicken breast…over an hour after my husband got his food! When she brought the check, I asked about a desert for me and was told “oh, chef says all we have is fruit, sorry!” And then she walked off. I’d have taken the fruit had it been offered. But it had been over 3 hours so we paid and left.

        Chef at Via Napoli was also awesome. Custom veggie & chicken sausage pizza with less cheese and easy on the meat, plus a combined app (bit of one and bit of another to replace the shrimp that would’ve been on the first.) and a sorbet/fruit sundae that was one of the best desserts I’ve had, with or without restrictions.

  • So here’s my real question. Was the complaint about this restruant that the waiter was rude when asked about the Vegan request or that the food that was received wasn’t good. B/c the only thing I can see is that the waiter made a comment. Everything else seemed to be delivered upon. You got a beautifully presented meal in accordance to your dietary needs, why wouldn’t you recommend it?

  • and do you want them to go against the authenticity of their cultural foods? Or did you choose the restaurant b/c someone in your party wanted French food and you had to join them. I’m curious as to why you choose a eatery that didn’t conform to your style of food choices. ie I wouldn’t go to a soup and salad place and ask for a steak.

    • In my dream world, everywhere would have a vegan option, but I understand that’s not always feasible. Since WDW caters to so many different requests and needs, it has been my experience that their chefs can typically accommodate a vegan request on the fly. I’ve been told on many occasions to just let my server know that I’m vegan upon being seated, and even though there is rarely a vegan option on the menu, something can typically be made. I figured my past experiences, along with the fact that we let them know ahead of time would have ended with a different result.

      You live and you learn, right? In the end, I was able to enjoy a nice dinner in pretend France, in real Disney World.

  • Thanks for the blog post. There are definitely some restaurants which can accommodate vegans easier than others. We tend to keep eating at the same few just b/c I know that I can order something. I appreciate that you are trying other places and writing reviews from a vegan perspective. I know now to skip this one!

    • Phew! I’m so glad you found it helpful, Niki! When I used to vacation in WDW, I would also stick to the same few restaurants (Boma, Sanaa, Jiko). Now that I can dine here more often, I’m ok in the event of a less-than-perfect experience!

  • I think you did well compared to “real” France. Having been to Paris a few times with my strict vegetarian wife (she is Jain), it can be a struggle to find vegetarian food without doing your research. Casual dining can be a repeat diet of Croque Monsieur without the ham – ie a cheese toasted sandwich. The problem is spotting when vegetables have been cooked in meat sauces. We live in the UK, but find America great for food compared to Europe.

    I look forward to your meal report in Epcot Japan. When we went to Tokyo we had to say my wife was like a Buddhist to understand the concept of vegetarianism.

    Good chefs can cope if you give them warning of a strict dietary requirement, and often come up with a better dish than the set menu.

  • by Just some guy on January 16, 2013, at 10:34 am EDT

    Shorter Emily: I get to tell only my side of the story and color it to my benefit in a public forum. I get to be snarky while airing my faux indignation over my very narrow demands not being met immediately.

    This article may have been useful had Emily spoken with a manager and shared that response. Miscommunication and unfortunate results will happen anywhere, even at our beloved Walt Disney World. But when our first choice is to post a snarky blog instead of attempt to seek fair and appropriate resolution we simply add to the problem. Usually, touring plans.com is far, far above this kind of blogpost.
    It is a French restaurant in WDW. Go to France and find an English-speaking waiter who will happily prepare a vegan dish for you in the spot. Let us know how that works out.

    • Hi, Just Some Guy. How are you?

      Since it’s a blog post, and my personal review, I felt like I shouldn’t be telling anyone else’s side of the story. If you’re interested, though, I ate with two meat-eaters who really enjoyed their entrees. One of them didn’t much care for their appetizer. It had something to do with a runny egg, I think.

      What you read as snarky was just my attempt at humor, maybe it didn’t translate well or I’m just funnier in my own head.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Thanks much for your posts on vegan options at WDW.

    As it seems some of your non-vegan readers are unaware of why some people are vegan, it’s overwhelmingly for health or moral reasons or both, not flippantly for “personal reasons” or because they’re just “picky eaters”.

    Extensive and scientifically corroborated medical reasons for a non-animal protein diet, i.e. a “vegan” diet, are clearly and logically detailed in reports like the book, “The China Study”, and even in videos of President Clinton interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

    We’re eager to know of better experiences you’ve had finding vegan options at WDW besides at Sanaa. How did you fare at BOMA?

    • She gave a happy review of V&A

    • Agree with you completely. Vegan dining at WDW, have you seen Chef TJ at 1900 Park Faire? He is amazing! We’ve had his vegan course a couple of times now and it is really great. Last I saw he is working evenings Sunday through Thursday.

    • Hi GPG!

      Thanks so much for the comment, and for being awesome. Also, The China Study is quite possibly one of the best things I have ever, or will ever read in my lifetime.

      I can’t wait to share my other dining experiences with you! Boma, Jiko, other things that are awesome! Sit tight, I promise they are coming. Thanks so much for reading!

  • Thanks for the review Emily, always nice to know which restaurants are friendly than others for us veg folk.

  • Emily, I really appreciate your review. My son is vegetarian, but also does not eat animal products from sources that he cannot confirm came from ethically treated animals, i.e., access to outside, non-caged, etc. This means he is a vegan outside our home or the few organic restaurants we find. I love your reviews and am completely taken aback by the hostility from some of your readers. Great job rolling with the unjustified attacks. Keep up the great work of dining and reviewing for vegans/vegetarians.

  • I’m sorry, but I am the only one who laughed out loud after reading the first two sentences of this? Everyone seems to be taking all of this SO seriously, but I find it pretty funny, especially since the request was granted. I have a few French friends, and it’s just such a French response. That’s their culture, and we have to understand that too when we walk into their restaurants.

  • I know this was published awhile ago, but thank you for posting it! My husband and I are both vegetarians, so we obviously don’t get to eat at fancy French places ever, which is a little sad. Indian restaurants just don’t have that “romance” factor. I was considering bring my husband here as a surprise, thinking that fake France could make us a fake French vegetarian meal. But it sounds like they’re kinda jerks about it, so we’ll be skipping after all.

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