Some of you may have scanned my list of Disney World's best table-service restaurants, seen Be Our Guest listed there, and are now wondering what's up. Let me explain. Yes, the lovely New Fantasyland dining spot located inside The Beast's castle has an elegant (if pricey) dinner menu. But at lunch the restaurant is transformed into a quick-service eatery with significantly lower prices. It's an intriguing dual-purpose dining space that is something of an innovation from Disney.
The lunch and dinner menus are virtually entirely distinct from one another. Midday entrees include Croque Monsieur, a gooey sandwich filled with carved ham, gruyere cheese, and béchamel that is similar to the famous Monte Cristo at Disneyland's Blue Bayou. Other choices are braised pork, French onion soup, and vegetable quiche. Ooh la la.
While the food is tres magnifique, the ordering system is tres unique. Instead of ordering at a counter, waiting for the meals to be prepared and delivered on a tray, and then wandering around the dining room in search of a table (which is the norm for most of the other quick-service eateries at Disney World), guests order their meals either at a self-service kiosk or with a Disney cast member and are given a "magic rose." Guests place the GPS-enabled device on their table (which allows servers to match the meals with the patrons), and their food is delivered to them. It's a pretty nifty concept.
At least half of the fun of dining at Be Our Guest is marveling at the richly detailed Beauty and the Beast themeing, which includes the cavernous ballroom and more intimate seating in the Rose Gallery and the West Wing. The great thing about coming for lunch is that you could enjoy the ambiance (and savor the delicious food) without having to pay royal prices.
Judge Robb Alvey of Theme Park Review loves Be Our Guest (as does nearly every other participant on the panel), which is doubly impressive given that the restaurant opened soon before I conducted the survey. He heartily recommends the French onion soup and the cupcakes (which includes "The Master's Cupcake," a chocolate sponge cake topped with "grey stuff").
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Next up: Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie