We’ve dined at Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany pavilion on several locations, and we recently revisited while some out-of town friends were visiting. Being part German, it’s always a favorite of many members of my family, so Matt and I typically find ourselves dining here around once a year.
Biergarten is open for lunch (noon-3pm) and dinner (from 3:30pm). Entertainment begins at 1pm.
As with all of our trips to Biergarten, we started our meal off right with a couple liters of beer! I ordered the Radeberger Pilsner (foreground) and Matt had a Hovels.
Since it’s been a while since I’ve taken pictures of the buffet itself, let’s take a look, shall we? There are two buffets featuring the same items and they meet in the center where the carving station and dessert station are located. The first section of the buffet is an assortment of cold salads.
There was also a warm section featuring Nudel Gratin, Red Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Vinaigrette, Potato Dumplings, and Pot Roast Bavarian Style, but the photo came out so incredibly blurry it’s not worth posting. Sorry!
I wasn’t very hungry when I arrived after work (one of the many reasons I don’t like buffets: I never have an appetite to get my money’s worth, especially at dinner!), so I only ended up getting essentially one plate of food. I was excited to try the Beer and Cheese Soup since the last time the option was Borscht. Matt loved it, but I found it so salty it bordered inedible for me. It was a bit better used as a dip for the pretzel bread, which didn’t have much salt at all sprinkled on it. The texture was slightly grainy, so it had a bit of texture on the tongue. I only made it about halfway through this small bowl.
I grabbed some Tomato Salad, Cucumber Salad, Sliced Pickles, and a piece of Bratwurst with Sauerkraut. The tomatoes were a bit mealy, but edible. The cucumber salad was a nice change from the vinegar-based version I make at home, instead tossed in a creamy dill sauce. They had a nice crunch to them that I appreciated. The pickles had a very slight sweetness to them, and while I prefer the sour side of the spectrum, I enjoyed these.
The famous pretzel bread tasted a bit on the dry/stale side, which I found hard to believe since I imagine they have a fairly steady stream of it coming out. It was after 7pm by the time we made it to the buffet though, so who knows how long the bread had been sitting on deck out back. The bratwurst was fine, but I wish I had grabbed some mustard for it.
Next up, we have the desserts!
For my dessert, I just grabbed a Red Berry Compote and some assorted cheeses to eat alongside the pretzel bread. Matt, on the other hand, grabbed a Vanilla Pudding and his absolute favorite, Bavarian Cheese Cake! He was devastated when the adjacent Sommerfest quick service removed it from their menu when they revamped it a few months ago!
There was a bit of an issue with the check-in process when our friends arrived at the restaurant. We had a party of 11: 8 adults and 3 children, all under age 4. They arrived 15 minutes early to check in (isn’t that Disney’s recommendation?) for a 6:30pm reservation, and everyone was there except me. I was stuck in traffic on I-4 (SAY WHAT?!), driving from Downtown Orlando. They mentioned they were waiting on one person, but were refused the ability to check in because not everyone was there. Matt tried to explain the situation to the Cast Member to no avail, and a nearby manager who seemingly heard what was going offered no assistance.
I had just parked at the first check-in attempt and was walking over. When I hit the turnstiles, our friend got back in line. Just as I made it to the waiting area at 6:35, he checked us in. Then we proceeded to wait another 15-20 minutes until we were seated. In the freezing cold. With a pre-school ager, a toddler, and an infant.
Now, I know the new reservation system charges for no-shows/has a 24-hour cancellation policy, but I think these ADRs were booked prior to that. And I see the importance of having your entire party there due to the fact you will be sat with other guests at the same table. It’s not like you have a table for 4 at a “normal” restaurant and only 3 show up. That 4-seat table is going to be used for your party regardless. At Biergarten, if you have a reservation for 4 but only 3 show up, there are still 5 seats that can be filled either with other guests. Trust me. I get it.
My issue was this: the tables fit 8 adults – fairly comfortably – which we had. We also had three children with us, two of which required high chairs. Even with 10 seats at the table, one child in our group still had to be held. The fact that I was running late would have had no impact with the exception I would have had to ask the server for a beer when I arrived. They’re not taking food orders, preparing individual meals, and serving it. It’s a buffet. It was one of those situations where a bit of understanding and care would have been greatly appreciated.
Overall, we had an enjoyable experience once inside the restaurant. For me, it was mostly for the atmosphere, entertainment, and spending time with friends, as I definitely didn’t get my money’s worth from eating (I recommend going during lunch if you’re not a big eater). Matt did a much better job than I, and it remains a top buffet for him on property. And, of course, we both love the liters of beer!
Let us know of your experiences at Biergarten. Do you have a preference of lunch or dinner? Let us know in the comments!
*Note: We’re cruising from January 25-February 1, 2014, and comments will be reviewed and posted once we’re back. Thank you for your patience!