Bonjour from the France Pavilion! I had the opportunity to check out L’Artisan des Glaces Sorbet and Ice Cream Shop which just opened at the end of May 2013 in the France Pavilion at Epcot. I tend to avoid the France Pavilion as it has a reputation for being horribly unaccommodating for special diets, but I decided to give it a chance since it had been a while. As a writer over at Chip & Co., I reviewed this with my friend Krista from Disneyways, who thankfully was able to review it from a non-allergy perspective which was great. I was hoping that since they had sorbet, I'd at least be able to have one dessert option there (which wasn't necessarily the case). Here's what I discovered when I went.
First off, the setting is beautiful. I love the decor and the entire setting in the pavilion makes you feel like you are in France. The decor inside the shop is charming and so well done. Imagineers did a great job at paying attention to every detail--from the milk jar chandelier to the pitchers for milk--it was all perfect. The colors in the shop are gorgeous pastels, very soothing and make for a pleasant almost rustic environment. Also, there is a fair amount of space in there, which I can imagine with summer crowds will be much appreciated (especially since there's no indoor seating). If you don't have a food allergy this is a great new place to visit and one to make a new tradition.
|What a cute chandelier!|
|Glass cases as you enter the shop|
When you want to get dessert, you have to go to a counter to pay per scoop (one or two at a whopping $3.99 to $6.10), then you go to another station to pick either a cup or cone and then your flavors. Weird. So, what I decided to do was go to the order station and ask about the sorbet. I explained that I can't have dairy or gluten and the cashier brought out an allergy book. From there, I was able to look at the sheets. Unfortunately, I was only to get 2 very bad photos before I got yelled at to stop taking photos. Whoops! Just call me a gluten free/dairy free renegade!! Here are the two I was able to get:
Here's where things went downhill...
The cashier snatched the book from me, and yes I wasn't able to look at it again (there I am again with this GF/DF renegade thing!). He explained to me that while the sorbet was technically dairy free, they use the same machines to make it. He said they wash it well, but that traces of dairy could still exist. Wait? What?! Seriously...after all the time to make this location, they couldn't be bothered to have a dedicated sorbet machine? Sighs... On top of that, some of the ice cream contains gluten in it (profiterole flavor has pretzels in it), so it's not even a 100% safe place if you're just GF. Double sighs...
|Sorbets are located in the middle...|
Worse yet, they keep everything together in the front (sorbets are in the middle surrounded by all the dairy). When asked if they used dedicated spoons, they said no. They use the same spoons for everything and just dip them in water to clean them. I asked if they could use a fresh scoop and fresh batch of sorbet from the back to serve to me. This did not go well. The server literally argued with me for many minutes and told me it didn't matter it was all the same. Holy smokes!! Way to exceed my customer service expectations in France...yet again. :(
And then I did something that I have no clue what possessed me to do (other than sheer blind judgement), I actually decided to try a scoop and see if another server would accommodate my request. Well, she did. I
went for a flavor that I figured wasn't that popular--strawberry (people seemed to be going for the other flavors). And so I got my first and only scoop of sorbet at L'Artisan des Glaces Sorbet and Ice Cream Shop.
In terms of the taste, it was nothing special. It was good but the flavor wasn't out of this world. I will say it had great texture. Very smooth and creamy. So that was where the sorbet here would stand out. The other strange thing was that it sort of tasted freezer burnt. I asked Krista who got the profiterole ice cream and she said it didn't taste like that to her, so maybe it was my taste buds or just the sorbet.
Save your time, money, and effort and go to someplace Disney owned where you can get terrific desserts and safe ones too. The Sanaa raspberry mint sorbet and the strawberry / mango sorbet from Brown Derby blow this sorbet out of the water. Yes, it's a great addition to Epcot but it's just not a great place for folks with special needs.
While I can't really recommend this location for special dietary needs, I will say (despite the rotten service), I had a terrific time with Krista. We felt like we were in Paris strolling through the streets and enjoying an afternoon snack. We had a blast but that was only because I enjoyed hanging out with a friend and didn't let the crummy allergy accommodation ruin my time (besides I had sushi that night, so I didn't miss out on enjoying great food!).
Overall though, I give this a big fat 2 out of 10 for special diets.