by Kristin Casagrand
This week’s featured restaurant can be found over a stone bridge surrounded by blooming flowers, before the majestic Canadian Rockies, and at the base of the replica of the “Hotel du Canada.” One of my favorites and one of the most requested restaurants on Disney property is the Le Cellier Steakhouse in the Canadian pavilion at EPCOT.
Many a times, my family has tried to get reservations at Le Cellier months in advance and has been disappointed to find the restaurant was already fully booked. We hadn’t eaten there in several years until we were able to get reservations again this past March for an early dinner. When you first enter the restaurant, it is rather dark with dim candle lighting and it feels like you are walking down into a wine cellar. Note: speaking of wine cellars, if you look closely, you will find a hidden Mickey made of wine bottles in the small wine room behind the check-in counter! The restaurant has stone arches with the rest of the decor mostly comprised of wooden structures. Metal candle racks hang from the ceiling to give a very rustic feel.
Upon sitting down for our dinner, we were handed menus that looked like regular old menus, but when you opened them, they were back-lit like an e-reader! Being an easily amused person, I thought this little touch was pretty neat. I started dinner off with a blueberry ice-wine martini. I had been told that ice-wine was a specialty in Canada and I was determined to try a drink with ice-wine in it. Expecting it to be dry since it was a martini, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was rather sweet and flavorful! My family shared the “assortment of artisanal cheeses” for an appetizer and I ordered the “Canadian cheddar cheese soup” as a starter. The cheddar cheese soup was phenomenal and definitely a must-have since it is also a specialty at Le Cellier. I won’t forget to mention that one of my favorite parts of this restaurant is the pretzel breadsticks they give you before dinner. I would shamelessly go to Le Cellier just for those. I ordered the “medallions of beef tenderloin” for dinner which came with fries. However, I swapped my regular fries out with my sister for her “poutine fries.” Oh my goodness, if you are a cheese and potatoes lover, you need to get the poutine fries! They come with Canadian cheddar, truffle salt, and red wine reduction. It was an interesting twist on a common side item. I also tried my sister’s white cheddar mac n cheese, which definitely got a thumbs up as well. The restaurant offers several other entrees such as broiled Alaskan halibut, pacific king salmon, and prime New York strip, to name a few. For dessert, we shared a “moose,” which was a chocolate covered chocolate mousse ball in the shape of a moose. Very cute and very delicious! At the end of the night we were happily stuffed and agreed that Le Cellier would make the list for many vacations to come. Another great part of the restaurant is that with native Canadians working as the wait staff, they are able to recommend items that are popular in the actual country. Our waitress even shared stories of her homeland, which made our Canadian experience even more authentic and special.
This week’s recipe was easy to pick– the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup! I know that it is the summer, but there is never a bad time to enjoy a yummy bowl of soup!
Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup
(From cooking with Mickey and the Disney chefs cookbook)
½ Pound applewood smoked Bacon (cut into ½” pieces)
4 Tablespoons butter
1 Diced red onion (about 1 cup)
3 Diced celery stalks (about 1 cup)
1 Cup all purpose flour
3 Cups chicken stock
4 Cups whole milk
1 Pound aged white Cheddar cheese (shaved or grated)
1 Tablespoon salt (to taste)
1 Tablespoon pepper
1 Tablespoon worchester sauce
1 Tablespoon tabasco sauce
1/2 cup warm beer
Chopped scallions or chives, for garnish
Make sure you cook the soup on low and slowly! Keep stirring so it does not burn. This recipe takes about an hour to make.
1. In a large soup pot (At least 1 ½ Gallon), cook the bacon. Stir over medium heat about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
2. Add the Butter and melt it.
3. Add the Onion and Celery and sauté until onions to start to get translucent.
4. Add the flour and mix to form a roux. Keep stirring until all of the flour has been incorporated.
5. Add chicken stock, slowly, while constantly stirring. Bring to a boil for a minute and then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. You are looking for something resembling a gravy at this point. It’s going to be very thick.
6. Next add milk, again slowly, while constantly stirring. This should significantly lighten up your soup at this point. Continue to simmer for 15 minutes, but do not boil.
7. Turn heat up slightly, it’s time to melt the cheese. Add cheese very slowly in small amounts, while stirring constantly. Allow each portion of cheese to melt away before adding the next. Keep stirring.
8. Now add salt and pepper. Be very careful with your salt. There is a lot of salt in your bacon, and possibly even in your chicken stock.
9. Next add worchester, tabasco, and beer. Keep stirring.
10. Turn down the heat slightly and let simmer or serve. You can garnish each bowl with some finely chopped bacon and chives.
Yield: 10 servings
Happy cooking everyone!