Editor’s note: TPG’s Ashley Kosciolek was hosted by Disney Cruise Line for a sailing on Disney Wish. The opinions expressed below are entirely hers and weren’t subject to review by the line.
If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s fancy. On any given day, you’ll find me in leggings and a sweatshirt, and the only time I dress up is on cruise ship formal nights. Culinary pretense is completely lost on me, and I’m almost always that person who ends up wondering what all the fuss is about as she munches on pizza and burgers, savoring every bite with her unsophisticated palate.
When it comes to food, I struggle at upscale restaurants — especially French ones, where I often feel that chefs take scraps and try to morph them into something expensive that turns my stomach. I’m also not big on most meat, particularly if it comes from organs. And what’s with all the courses that take hours to eat?
I recently sailed on Disney Cruise Line‘s newest ship, Disney Wish, and let’s just say I was less than thrilled to find out that I had been booked at Enchante, a pricey, adults-only French eatery that’s new to the fleet. In addition to sea urchin, one of the courses that sounded most unappetizing to me was pigeon. Until I looked at the menu, I didn’t even know pigeon was something people ate. And the kicker? A standard meal at Enchante costs $125 per person.
Whether fancy fare makes you squeamish or you’re having trouble swallowing the per-person price (see below for more specifics), I’m here to set the record straight: After dining at Enchante, I have a whole new appreciation for swanky sustenance.
For more cruise news, guides and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter.
The brainchild of chef Arnaud Lallement — who also created the menu for French restaurant Remy on Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy — the upscale eatery is loosely themed after the Lumiere character from “Beauty and the Beast.”
It occupies a light and airy space on Deck 12 aft, tucked away past the Rose Lounge (which, as you might have guessed, is also based on “Beauty and the Beast”), and it serves up a tasting menu of small dishes at dinnertime. For-fee brunch is also offered.
Reservations are required, and there’s a dress code, with formal or semi-formal preferred. (Don’t show up like you’re going to the buffet. Unfortunately, I didn’t pack any formalwear for my sailing, but I did wear my formal Minnie ears to make up for it.)
A warm welcome
When you reach The Rose, a member of Enchante’s waitstaff will greet you with a glass of complimentary Champagne before escorting you to your table.
A long, dimly lit hallway leads to the elegant dining space, which features round tables for anywhere from two to about six people. Some, located directly in front of the venue’s sweeping windows, have chairs, while others are booths against the back wall facing the windows. (The booths are more comfy, but they’re awkward if you’re eating alone like I was.)
Enchante is not only Disney Cruise Line’s most expensive extra-fee alternative restaurant, but it’s also one of the most expensive at sea on any cruise line. (It’s definitely affordable compared to some of Disney’s land-based fine-dining establishments. Looking at you, Victoria & Albert’s.)
There are three ways you can choose to dine: a six-course menu for $125 (add $115 for wine); a nine-course menu consisting of chef-chosen dishes for $195 (add $140 for wine); or an a la carte menu with individually priced items so you can select exactly what you want and spend a little less.
The menu, a plastic, wave-shaped slab that’s placed on a holder so it stands up by itself, is somewhat awkward in its design, although it was nice not to have to hold it while I decided what I wanted.
My waiter came by shortly after I sat down to set it up for me and to take my order as I weighed the options. I went with the six-course menu for $125 with no wine. (I’m not a big drinker, so the Champagne was enough for me.)
However, there was some confusion. When the sixth course arrived, and it wasn’t dessert, I wondered if he was giving me the nine-course menu instead. That would have made sense except, in the end, I got only eight courses. (I never saw the sea urchin, and I’m kind of glad about that.) I’m unsure if the additional courses were intentional or an oversight. Either way, by that point, I was invested and happy to keep going.
Oddly, a charge for $184.58 showed up on my onboard bill. I did include a tip, but I still don’t know how they arrived at that number, which made sense for neither the six-course nor the nine-course options. I suppose it’s possible they gave me the six-course menu and tacked on a couple of a la carte dishes. (In the end, the line ended up removing the charge since it was a media sailing, but I would have been annoyed about the extra charges otherwise.)
After my waiter took my order, he brought out each course one at a time. But first, he placed a single hunk of mouthwatering warm bread on the table with butter and a selection of salt to top it off. (I know this will underscore the fact that I’m not a foodie, but the tiny spoons are the cutest.)
Next, three tiny nibbles arrived as an amuse bouche. They included a tartlet filled with greens, a small falafel and a cheese tartlet. The falafel was my favorite, but the cheese tart was a close contender.
“So far, so good,” I thought. No weird meat. No strange consistencies.
Course number two was a crispy honeycomb adorned with edible flowers and a type of cold lemon soup. The two paired well, and the colorful presentation was delightful. Although the honeycomb bit was interesting, the star of the show was the soup, with the former serving as merely a cracker for dipping. This was one of my favorite dishes.
Course three consisted of a tomato quartet: half of a butter-poached soil-grown tomato confit garnished with greens and edible flowers; a type of soft tomato paste; tomato vinaigrette with a soft bread block for dipping; and a glass of tomato water.
The vinaigrette was my favorite and seemed like a more French version of the bread and olive oil you usually find at Italian restaurants. My least favorite? The tomato paste. (I’m sensitive to textures, and that one didn’t sit well on my tongue.)
On to the fourth course: a stone crab tartlet with langostine jelly. Friends, I was seriously worried about this one. I’m picky when it comes to seafood, and I swear off anything that isn’t crab or lobster. Given that this dish contained both, I was OK with it, but anything with a jellylike consistency is a no-go for me, nine times out of 10.
Ultimately, I’m so glad I tried it because the thin jelly film over the top was balanced out by the consistency of the rest of the dish, so much so that I barely even noticed the wiggle. It was one of my favorite courses of the entire meal.
Fifth, I received a plate with a small cube of halibut that was expertly prepared. A light crunch on the outside led to a tender inside, and the flavor was incredible, paired with onion accompaniments. It was tasty but otherwise not super notable.
The dish about which I was most curious was the Squab Pigeon Fermiere. Although I knew squab was pigeon, I didn’t realize it was, specifically, young pigeon until after I had eaten. I have a thing against eating baby animals (no lamb or veal for me), so I feel guilty about liking this course so much.
The squab was presented in a puff pastry, cut in half, with foie gras, dried tomato, spinach and pancetta, along with turnip accompaniments. The very concept of foie gras makes me sick (yes, I’ve tried it, and I don’t like the taste, either), and I hate dried tomatoes (in my opinion one of the most overrated additions to any trendy dish). So, for this one, I simply removed the squab and tried it with a bit of the pastry. Based on its appearance, I was expecting it to be rubbery, but it was surprisingly tender and tasted like chicken.
It wasn’t my favorite course, but I was proud of myself for trying something new and not hating it.
A selection of French cheeses was presented next, as the sixth course, and I was able to choose up to six of them to try with dried fruits, nuts and honeycomb. They were wonderful, as cheese always is.
Dessert was preempted by petit fours, including white chocolate domes, a coffee-flavored tart and fruit jelly scrolls that resembled fruit rollups. The coffee tart was exquisite, and I did enjoy the fruit jellies.
But not to be outdone was an absolutely out-of-this-world bar of soft chocolate that was buttery smooth and just the right amount of sweet. Along with the honeycomb with lemon, the tomato vinaigrette and the crab tartlet, this was one of the best parts of my dinner.
Until my dining experience at Enchante, I didn’t know it was possible to have a physically euphoric reaction to food. The meal was, perhaps, the closest I’ve come to a spiritual experience while not in church.
I was expecting stuffy food that I wouldn’t want to eat. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find that each dish was so whimsically prepared I was convinced to try it — which I would have done anyway, given my “I’ll try any food once” rule — and then ended up liking it.
Whether you’re a foodie who’s looking for a special night out in an upscale atmosphere, a couple wanting to reconnect away from the chaotic vibe found on the rest of the ship or someone who usually doesn’t care for fancy food but who’s willing to be converted, Enchante might just be worth the extra cash.
Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:
- The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
- A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
- The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
- A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
- 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
- 15 ways cruisers waste money
- 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
- The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise