20 July 2011

Guest Review: Biergarten

Please welcome Eric Allen as a guest reviewer to Cooking with Mickey. Eric is host of the SorCom Review on Sorcerer Radio, a Disney Vacation Club member who makes several trips to Disney a year and a Disney Cruise Line veteran. He'll be sharing his experience at Biergarten in Epcot's Germany Pavilion.


Germany Pavilion
No matter what time of the year you visit Walt Disney World, you can always get a taste of October -- all you can eat of it in fact -- at Biergarten.

Biergarten entrance
Snugly nestled in the Germany pavilion at Epcot, Biergarten carries on the tradition of Oktoberfest that started waaaaaaaaay back in 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig (later to be known as “Mad King Ludwig” -- maybe he was simply “Slightly Off Ludwig” at that point) celebrated his wedding with a huge festival outside the Munich city gates.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room
Guests leave the Florida sunshine behind as they enter Biergarten and find themselves in a Bavarian village -- featuring flags of the sixteen German Länder, or states -- just as the moon is rising behind the waterwheel (which really works, by the way). They are then seated at long tables not only with their own party, but if their party is 4 or less then it's possible that other parties may be seated with them as well (this has happened to us on several occasions -- and every time we've met some great people).

Buffet Bar

Carving Station
Biergarten, like several other table-service restaurants on Disney property, is an all-you-can-eat buffet with different stations serving authentic (well, if it's not totally authentic it's the most German-tasting German food I've ever had) German fare:

Salads: mixed green salad, sausage salad (I'm not joking, they actually have sausage salad), picked red beet salad, warm German potato salad, bean salad, cucumber-dill salad, and tomato salad with fresh basil (I'm not a big tomato-eating person -- I don't even do a lot of ketchup -- but woe be unto the management if I come for some of this and it not be available). Also available at this station are assorted cold cuts, cheeses, a seasonal soup choice, and miniature loaves of pretzel bread (similar to what you can get at Le Cellier... provided of course you can actually get an ADR there).

Hot Buffet: rotisserie chicken, pork shank, pork roast, baked veal loaf, veal sausage, roasted potatoes, spaetzle, schnitzel, assorted sausages, sauerkraut, frikadellen (meat patties in a red wine sauce), carrots, red cabbage, sauerbraten (pot roast), and more. Obviously, if you're a vegetarian you might want to skip this establishment and head on over to the Land's food court instead.

Dessert: Bavarian cheesecake, apple strudel, Blackforest cake, Florentiner cookies, and more (although honestly, I rarely even pay attention to the 'and more' part as the cheesecake/Blackforest cake dominate my attention).

And of course, what would a place like Biergarten be without BEER (well, aside from just plain ol' “garten”)? Several different kinds of German beers are available in both bottle and draft -- and when I say “draft,” I mean in terms of both 1/2- and 1-liter sizes! If beer isn't quite your thing, however, there are also selections of German coffee drinks, schnapps, and wines.

Oktoberfest Musikanten
Whatever you're drinking, be ready to hoist it and toast with your tablemates once the live entertainment takes the stage. Biergarten's very own polka band performs several times a day -- and while they certainly play polkas they also feature performances on lesser well-known instruments like the Holzanes G'Lächter (also known as the “wooden laughter”) and the Alphorn. Guests (and occasionally members of the wait staff) are encouraged to come out onto the dance floor during the livelier numbers.

More Cowbell?
Side Note:
My wife and I first tried Biergarten as we were working our way around the various Epcot restaurants -- and this place had me from “Willkommen.” I'll admit I'm the type of person who prefers meat over vegetables 11 times out of 10, so the meat-heavy menu seemed like the ultimate playground for my inner carnivore. Biergarten quickly became a must-do on every trip we could; one of the servers (a wonderful lady named Renate) actually told us she considered us among her regulars. The overall quality has been very consistent as well; in well over a dozen visits (I've lost count, so I can't say exactly how many) I've never had a bad experience with the food, drink, or wait staff.

When dealing with all-you-can-eat buffets, my philosophy is to take small samples of as many different offerings as possible and then go back for seconds on what appeals most. In this case the decision can be rather difficult at times. My usual favorites are the schnitzel (topped with hunter sauce) and the tomato salad, but honestly depending on my mood almost any of the selections save the frikadellen will do. My other personal favorite is a nice 1/2-liter of draft beer (I'm more of an amber kind of guy, but the occasional dark beer is nice too).

Alpenhorn
What may be my favorite facets of Biergarten may not be the food or the drinks, however, but the setting and entertainment. The long tables encourage interaction with other guests, which is always fun for me as I enjoy meeting new people. The live music makes it almost impossible to come away from a dining experience at Biergarten and NOT be in a better mood than when you came in.

If there is any downside to this place -- aside from personal taste, of course -- it's that the cost of $32.99 per adult makes it a little bit pricey for dinner. As a result I would recommend making this a lunch reservation instead; at only $19.99 per adult (”only,” he says) it's a much better value even though the dinner menu has a few (very few) more items.

All in all, I would heartily recommend Biergarten to anyone looking for a positive dining experience. It's a great place to beat the heat and enjoy the spirit of Oktoberfest the whole year through -- and you never know when you may make a few new friends at the same time.

4 comments:

  1. Great review! Makes me really excited for our ADR.. now, my question - everyone talks about the beer.. is it included in the buffet cost??

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  2. No, unfortunately the beer isn't included in the cost. The liter is $11 I believe and if you can't drink it yourself, share it with someone. :) It's the best price for the amount.

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  3. I'm a vegan and this is one of my favorite EPCOT eateries. The Chef will walk you along the buffet and let you know what the ingredients are. So no worries, vegetarians.

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  4. I've recently become a fan of the beer flight: 4 different beers with different (yet all good) tastes. Only downside is the glasses are the 5oz. size -- which has made them seem like oversized shot glasses to me. :)

    ReplyDelete

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