Restaurant Review: Bistrot Chez Rémy, Disneyland Paris Wednesday, Oct 21 2015 

The more cynical would assume that everything at Disneyland Paris is a rip-off, and truthfully, before visiting the Bistrot de Rémy at the Walt Disney Studios section of Disneyland Paris, I was expecting the same story again: overpriced, low-quality food in a place filled with screaming kids. Everyone’s dream, right?!

Either way, you have to book to get into this place – it gets booked up fast, and you can’t just walk in. (Tried it once. Failed.) It’s true that the picturesque setting appeals – it’s on the Place Gusteau, which also houses the Ratatouille ride and shop, and is convincingly set-dressed to replicate a traditional Parisian square. With cobbled streets, gilt-edged canopies over the restaurant door, authentic-looking road signs, and the massive Gusteau sign from the Ratatouille ride smiling down benevolently, it’s all very sweet.

Inside is a bit more chaotic. It’s true that there are vast cushy banquettes made of red leather to sit on while you wait, and plenty of Ratatouille memorabilia from the films adorning the walls for you to look at. However, even once you have given your name to the concierge and they’ve located your reservation, you still have to wait an inordinately long time to be seated, which leads to a backlog of families waiting and the subsequent generation of families’ worth of noise, making it difficult for wait staff to be heard when they do come to call your name. Add to this people walking in without reservations and taking a while to establish that they won’t be getting in without one, and you have one hot mess. They *really* need to streamline this whole process significantly.

IMG_2154Once you’re in, though, things look up considerably as you’re firstly struck by the creativity of the whole place. Seats really are made out of mock bottlecaps, the lights really are giant fairy lights, there are huge drinks parasols everywhere, and enormous plates form the partitions between booths, to name just a few touches. You really feel like you have stepped onto the set of the film and the overall feel is magical indeed. If you request a window seat when you book, you’ll also be lucky enough to see the Ratatouille ride (rat-shaped carriages galore!) gliding by as you eat.

The staff are also excellent – encouraging you to take pictures, providing exemplary service (even when you send food back, as a friend of mine did when the steak was not cooked to his liking), and even cracking the odd joke.

IMG_2152But what of the food itself? I’m happy to report that it, too, is of high quality. There are two choices of menu, and within that, two choices per course. The salad is made with fresh ingredients that in no way look tired or subpar, and the dressing is well-made, bringing the lively mixture of colours (lettuce, carrot, beetroot and tomato) together with zest. I’ve only sampled the steak for my main course so far (yes, I’ve been twice this year…!), but generally speaking it comes cooked to your liking, and is a good, tender cut of meat for your money. The pepper sauce is perhaps a little strong, but comes in generous portions – easily enough for your steak and your chips (which are perfect, for what it’s worth – crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle). Furthermore, it wouldn’t be the Ratatouille restaurant if it didn’t come with the signature dish – and this portion of ratatouille is full of flavour, and offers a variety of textures so that you don’t feel like you’re eating mush. On the frivolous side, it also comes with a tiny little plastic Rémy chip fork for you to take home with you 🙂

IMG_2156On the dessert front, you can go for cheese (which actually looks very nice by the way – a ficelle baguette served with a variety of cheeses and a pleasing-looking chutney), but as I have a sweet tooth, I have gone for the apple tart both times, which is about the size of my own face and comes with a stick of chocolate and plenty of custard. No regrets!

Your menu also includes bottled water (your choice of brand, or just tap water if you prefer), and you may also wish to sample the Lanson champagne made especially for the restaurant, which is light, effervescent, and again, of equally high quality. Failing that, you can go for the house red or house white, which are comparable in standard to that found in any genuine Parisian bistro. Coffee is decent too – and I say that as someone who has a machine at home which grinds the beans for them.

So atmosphere: tick. Food: tick. But what about the price? So far I’ve found that the €40 Emile menu (starter, main course, dessert and drink) more than suits my needs in terms of quality and quantity – you don’t pay a lot less in some of the buffet places at Disneyland Paris, and the €40 for three courses and a drink even compares very favourably to a standard Parisian bistrot. I’d even say you get better service at the Bistrot Chez Remy than in the city of light itself – the servers are friendly and swift.

I’d said to myself before going for the first time that if I didn’t think the €40 menu was good enough quality that I’d switch up to the €60 Gusteau menu for better food (the menu includes foie gras and premium cuts of meat and fish), but so far this hasn’t been necessary given the scope of choice even within the Emile menu. If you don’t want to eat that much, you can order à la carte (even though this is worse value) or try the two-course menus (Linguini, €46, or Remy, €30 – neither of which include drinks). There’s also a children’s menu that’s a frankly bargainous €17 for 3 courses and a drink.

On the whole, this might be one of the most magical and best value places to eat at Disney. Book your seat now – and go on, have some Disney-branded champagne while you’re at it, as you pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

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Restaurant review: Le 7 Sunday, Sep 18 2011 

For a modern 30th birthday celebration within the family, the chic and vibrant younger brother of the 3-Michelin-starred Le Pic, Le 7, seemed the perfect venue. In the heart of Valence, the bistrot is located within the Hotel Pic complex (where rooms start at €290 a night), as is the €210-menu Le Pic restaurant. The Pic name also lends itself to a cookery school, a consultancy, and a shop (a physical one just down the road, and also an online one). Such a culinary dynasty, with Anne-Sophie Pic (this year named the World’s Best Female Chef by San Pellegrino) at the helm, commands immediate awe and respect.

Modernity is certainly at the heart of the bistrot’s decor, with red plexiglass chairs and industrial metal finishes perhaps challenging people’s traditional perceptions of what a Michelin-starred chef should be doing. At €29 a menu, too, it’s also appropriate for visiting recession-busters. The menu itself takes the form of a road map that has to be unfolded, and the bread, cooked in-house, comes in the traditional paper sleeves that are familiar to many a boulangerie. The bread itself was surprisingly disappointing due to its chewiness, but all was forgiven thanks to the rest.

We were invited to dunk breadsticks in a pleasing aubergine dip, which fused creaminess and saltiness with panache. A watermelon gazpacho starter was both innovative and traditional, with the melon adding just a hint of a twist to the age-old concept (although the anise it was also promised to contain was not detectable; arguably it was working to add cohesion that’s not necessarily obvious), while around the rest of the table, a simple rocket and mozzarella salad was enjoyed for its high-quality ingredients. Around us, a lively and casual atmosphere was developing, including the sounds of a surprising number of children for a restaurant of this type (although the restaurant is child-friendly in the respect of providing high-chairs, I can’t think what they would eat: there is no trace of a children’s menu to be found among the sophisticated dishes on offer). Booking is recommended; I know it was a Saturday lunchtime, but it was full to the rafters.

All five of us enjoyed a main course of slow-cooked veal, whose tenderness did not go uncommented upon. Served with perfectly-cooked beans, it went away from the modern twists that we had got a hint of during the starter. In short, it was certainly satisfying, but perhaps lacking in creativity for a place with Anne-Sophie Pic’s name on it.

This was all accompanied with a selection of local wines by the glass – a 2001 Hermitage La Petite Chapelle (Jaboulet) was selected by Jean-Marc, who found it to have a profound nose characteristic of the area, but to be a bit too dry in the mouth. I chose a 2009 Crozes-Hermitage Cuvée L (Combier), which wowed from the moment of its arrival at the table with its purple frothiness and deep scent. In the mouth, too, it did not disappoint, proving fruity and fine. Also on the table was another 2009 Côtes du Rhône, this time produced by the Domaine Jamet – an affordable offering from a star producer. Fruity and fresh, a full bottle costs a mere €14 at the Pic Boutique. Price-wise the boutique is offering good value: a Puligny-Montrachet from Sauzet, spotted at €37 near Paris, is priced at €32 here.

The sequence of events that followed our main course was so very right, yet so very wrong. For dessert, we had the choice of ‘finger croustifondant au chocolat Manjari avec glace menthe-gingembre’, or a raspberry boule concoction which came out pink, luminous and jelly-like, with a contrasting creamy centre. Torn, I had gone for the crunchy fondant chocolate ‘finger’, and with its deep rich chocolate, range of pleasing textures and the combination to die for of mint and ginger in ice-cream form, I was not disappointed. It was what came next which made me wish I  had chosen the raspberry dessert instead.

My inlaws had, when booking the restaurant, told Le 7 (when they asked whether it was for a special occasion) that we were coming for my husband’s birthday. Unbeknownst to them, or any of us, the restaurant arranged a surprise complimentary birthday cake – a really nice, personal touch. Equally unbeknownst to anyone, it was a chocolate extravaganza with thick, soft dark chocolate icing and golden embellishments.  It was delicious, and we could not have wished for a higher-quality birthday cake. However, it would have been a lot more delicious had I not just put away another plate of chocolatey goodness.

Following this, we asked for coffee, which was brought with petits fours (as you would expect of a fine establishment such as those run by Anne-Sophie Pic). The petits fours would have been the star of the show thanks to their melty, fondant centres – had they not also been…yep, you’ve guessed it…another chocolate-fest! Now, I enjoy chocolate, and I accept that all three of these events coming in such quick succession was just bad luck or coincidence, but there is such thing as overkill, and it surprises me that more variation could not have been offered by the restaurant, at least on the petits fours front (surely anyone who has just ordered the chocolate dessert off the €29 menu will not be as ecstatic as they could be about chocolate petits fours?).

Nevertheless, none of this stopped the bistrot from being extremely good value for money. Service was slick and near-faultless, especially in such a busy setting; staff were discreet; the settings, right down to the toilets, were stylish and well-maintained; and the food, even if it was at times a little lacking in creativity, at times showed astonishing innovation and was, at all times, cooked and presented to a very high standard indeed. Would return.

285, avenue Victor Hugo 26000 Valence

telephone: 04 75 44 53 86

http://www.pic-valence.com