Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie: More Than Just Dessertsby Roan Poulter, contributing writer
My daughter discovered Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie for us. Its location, holed away behind the exit gift shop of the Impressions de France attraction, caused us to miss this gem multiple times. In the mad rush to avoid the escaping crowds from the high capacity film attraction, it was our custom to hurry through the gift shop and out into France. It was fortunate for us that she saw a line of people and went to investigate.
Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie is listed as a Quick Service bakery serving French cuisine. This description might invoke images of decadent desserts, as it should and does, but the offerings are substantial enough that it also deserves consideration for a relatively healthy lunch or a light supper.
There is almost always a line, but before you let that dampen your hopes of a speedy meal, know that the line splits into two, with mirrored choices on both sides. It has been our experience that even fairly long lines don't take more than ten minutes or so.
The Main Courses
The fresh baguette sandwiches are excellent and provide a better than average value at the park. If you're looking for the ultimate grilled cheese, try the Tartine aux Fromages; the pungent swiss, parmesan, and goat cheeses contrast nicely with the hearty country bread and tomato sauce.
The Dinde B.L.T. adds turkey to the standard bacon, lettuce, and tomato, but it's the garlic aioli that makes this a stand out.
A healthier option is the Brie aux Pommes, which wraps Brie, apples, and cranberries in multigrain bread. This sandwich lacked the savory component for me; if they made a prosciutto add on I think this might move closer to the top for me.
The Poulet au Pistou (Chicken) is more standard sandwich fare, though the Pesto gives it a nice herbal component.
But for us, the standout and favorite is the Jambon Beurre, a simple ham and cheese sandwich with Dijon mustard butter on a demi-baguette. The bread is the best you can get in any Disney park east of the sourdough facility in Disney California Adventure. Keep your teeth sharp, as this sandwich takes some effort to bite through. For the ultimate, ask to have your sandwich heated, where the cheese softens and the oils break up a little on the ham. The bread is just a little softer with the heat also.
A different take on the ham and cheese is the Croque Monsieur, a toasted ham and cheese with Bechamel sauce, where there is also cheese broiled on top.
The Bisque de Homard (lobster bisque) was good if not great. I thought it was bland and uninteresting.
The salads looked like they had been sitting behind the glass for some time. Freshness may vary by day.
The quiches and soups looked interesting, but alas, there was only so much room and sandwiches won the day. We reserved our evening stomach space for the sweet side of the bakery. Note that breads are also available if you opt for a soup. I believe a demi-baguette and Vichyssoise may be on the schedule for a future lunch rendezvous.
The Crème Brûlée is a show stealer. After all who hasn't dreamed of using a flame thrower in the kitchen? I can report however that this treat is not only a joy to watch. Breaking the browned sugar shell revealed a rich, lightly sweet custard underneath, allowing the broken bits to drive the sugary rush.
The Napoleon was recommended by the staff; it was sweet and decadent like the custard from the Crème Brûlée but I thought it was on the bland side, lacking any stand out ingredients.
The Mousse au Chocolat was excellent, though heavy. I thought the Duo was the best of the mousse and cake worlds.
The macarons (made from almonds, not coconut) are incredible, but expensive. Try not to think of them on a dollars per bite scale.
The Framboise, a raspberry mousse cake, had a nice raspberry flavor to it on the first bite, but felt a little forced by the last bite.
The Fraises—vanilla cream topped with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries—was excellent, in no small measure due to the exceptional berries. Give them all a hard look and pick the one you want. Not all berries are destined for greatness.
There is a full service coffee shop in the bakery; you can order from the line, or you can order from a separate line on the left side.
The standard Disney fare is available, some even with fancy sounding French names. The coffee and cappuccino are on the better side of average, and work in a pinch, but I prefer the selection and quality in the Morocco pavilion. The fact that they don't offer the most French of coffees, the Café au Lait, is quite possibly a crime and certainly a poorly considered decision.
Dad (41): 3.4 of 5 – If you are gluten or lactose avoiding, don't go here; it will just make you feel bad. If you decide to indulge in those things, it's a decadent ride down. Dislikes the lack of seating available in France.
Mom (41): 3.5 of 5 – Loved the Jambon Beurre (hot). Thought her husband ordered too many desserts.
Daughter (17): 4.5 of 5 – Loved the Jambon Beurre (cold).
Son (15): 3.5 of 5 – Loved the Jambon Beurre, but had to share the Brie aux Pommes (he drew the short straw). Thought the desserts were good, but that many of them tasted about the same.