L’Chaim Review: Epcot Holidays Festival
L’Chaim Kitchen at Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays brings a Hannukah-inspired menu to Walt Disney World. Located between France and Morocco in World Showcase, this food booth has a fairly interesting and varied lineup. In this review, we’ll share photos of the snacks and desserts on the menu, and offer our food reviews & tasting notes from L’Chaim.
One thing that I think is interesting (and odd) about L’Chaim is that Walt Disney World indicates these are Jewish-style and Hannukah-inspired dishes, but they are not kosher. While I wouldn’t expect Disney to go out of its way to add a kosher designation to every menu a la the vegetarian, vegan, and ‘kid approved’ listings, it does seem appropriate to have the one menu focusing on Jewish cuisine to be kosher.
Perhaps the ingredients would cost extra? I’m not particularly knowledgeable about sourcing kosher products, but I’d think that there’s a sufficient market for kosher items to have a single booth at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays with kosher items.
Here’s what’s on the food menu at the L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen:
- Pastrami on Rye with House-made Pickles and Deli Mustard
- Potato Knish with Herb Sour Cream (Vegetarian)
- Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup
- Black and White Cookie (Vegetarian)
Now our photos and reviews of each item…
Pastrami on Rye – A staple of Jewish delicatessens, this pastrami on rye is delicious. The portion of meat fairly generous, and it’s nicely seasoned but not overly salty–nor is it too dry.
If you’re looking for a relatively straightforward sandwich, this is an excellent option. It’s nothing incredibly ambitious, but it’s a classic option that gets the fundamentals right.
Potato Knish – Once again, I wasn’t paying attention and misread the scene while playing ‘potato or no’ at Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays. I figured this was a puff pastry when looking at it, but when I picked up this dense potato knish, I quickly realized that was not the case.
This item is fine to the extent that you’ve got delicious herb sour cream for each bite, and after that (so less than halfway through), the wheels fall off. All of the flavor is courtesy of that sour cream, with the knish itself just being vaguely potato-y material. This would be both good ‘stomach filler’ and a reasonably good value if you ask for extra herb sour cream. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t bother.
Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup – Another Jewish holiday staple, I’ve been vaguely aware of Matzo Ball Soup for a while, but somehow have never tried it.
Based on the taste here, I’m guessing what Epcot is serving is not exactly an exemplar of Matzo Ball Soup, as this was basically thin chicken stock with a single matzo ball in it. The ball itself was interesting, although a bit bland. As far as flavor and seasonings went, salt was most noticeable.
Black and White Cookie – I don’t know what this is supposed to be, but good it was not. Looks-wise, it’s the most interesting of the cookies, and the only one that evokes memories of Seinfeld, so that’s a big plus.
Taste-wise, it’s definitely the worst. I think there’s a shortbread cookie–or something dense–under the layer of hard icing.
Here’s the L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen drink menu:
- Egg Cream: Milk, Chocolate Syrup and Seltzer (non-alcoholic)
- Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Lager
- Blue Cosmo Cocktail
Overall, L’Chaim is a mixed bag. I really wanted to like the Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup since it’s a Jewish holiday staple, but it turned out to by my least favorite item of the bunch. (Well, not counting the cookie, because those aren’t really anything.) The Pastrami on Rye is an excellent option and the Potato Knish is potentially a good and filling option, though, so it’s not as if the L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen is a total loss. Perhaps next year Epcot will offer some traditional Jewish offerings that are delicious…and kosher. Until then, L’Chaim is just fine.
Check out our Food Guide to the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays if you want to see and read more about every Holiday Marketplace this year, what to eat & avoid, and other tips for making the most of the culinary side of the event. As this event isn’t just about the cuisine, you’ll also want to read our full Epcot International Festival of the Holidays Tips & Tricks post for info about the non-culinary side of the festivities. That covers Candlelight Processional, the Illuminations: Peace on Earth tag, Holiday Storytellers, and more!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think of the L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen? Have you tried any of the food items at this booth? What did you think of them? If you’re more familiar with Matzo Ball Soup, how do you think Epcot’s version stacks up? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
My complaint is that none of this is really Jewish ‘holiday’ food, just Jewish deli food. WHERE ARE THE LATKES?
Kosher keeper here.
I’m not one to see OFFENSIVENESS (is that a word? It should be) everywhere. But the fact that Disney is putting out Jewish inspired cuisines and effectively barring (kosher observing) Jews from eating it is ridiculous.
The ingredients would certainly be more expensive than their non kosher counterparts, there is no question. But since when has cost-prohibitedness (another should-be word) ever prevented Disney from doing something? Obtaining kosher supervision for the booth would really not be that complicated. We’re talking about the organization that has fake snow in Orlando, right?
This is something they could have easily done, but they just chose not to. Which wouldn’t bother me that much to begin with- as a kosher consumer, I am used to having to plan meals differently on vacation- except that this is a booth serving “Jewish” food. If you’re not going to make it kosher, why do it at all?? A very disappointing choice.
I was so disappointed to see a Jewish booth that’s not kosher. Disney, come on… While we are not Jewish our dear friends are. Feels like a slap in the face to me .
Generally speaking for the food industry, kosher ingredients don’t cost too much more, but kosher certification does. So they might be using kosher ingredients but the kitchen isn’t certified.
It’s like the difference between Champagne and champagne, except instead of being geographically dictated, it’s financial.
Kosher means ‘clean’. To be Kosher requires food preparation under specific conditions and certification to insure observant people are able to adhere to the strict dietary code. Basically, dairy and meat never prepared nor served together, animals must be slaughtered in a prescribed manner if they are to be consumed, certain animals and seafood are not acceptable and there are procedures for keeping the food prep area ‘clean’. In a nutshell, a bernaise sauce would never be served over a tasty slice of beef and shrimp would never make an appearance on any kosher plate. Even the dishes used for dairy are never used for serving meat. Fruits and vegetables are neutral – neither meat nor dairy. To offer kosher-only offerings would complicate things significantly at a fast food booth. It just makes no sense. Israeli dishes are similar to Middle Eastern foods and likely why the booth was offering more traditional deli foods. BTW, a Jewish deli is not necessarily certified kosher. In fact, most are not.
Great post. After attending my first F&W festival this past fall during the festival of Booths, Sukkoht, my biggest disappointment was the lack of a Jewish and Israeli presence (the two are not necessarily the same), so I find this information heartening. For the F&W festival, an actual sukkah would be a great addition.
In very simplistic terms, in order for L’Chaim to be a kosher restaurant (or counter service), it would need to be supervised by a kosher certification organization. This would include that the cooking facilities met specific standards at all times, that all of the ingredients were kosher and other rules. Furthermore, it would probably need be closed on the Sabbath as well (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown).
Prices of kosher food is often the same as the same food that is not kosher (ignoring the effects of brand name, marketing or other issues).
It is quite possible that some/many of the ingredients are kosher. Many food manufacturers manufacture their food products in kosher certified facilities in the USA, Canada and elsewhere. If you looked at what is in your own kitchen, you may be amazed how many food products are certified kosher.
I regularly see packaged items in WDW that are kosher. Several years ago, you could buy kosher Santa Claus and other Christmas gingerbread cookies at the American Adventure (I have always been amused by that one), kosher “oyster” crackers for your chili at Columbia House and more.
WDW does offer kosher meals for those who require compliance with kosher rules. They are offered at all table service restaurants and some counter service restaurants, but should be requested 24 hours in advance by calling (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463. See https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/en_CA/faq/restaurants/kosher-products/
Some blogs have indicated that kosher food is available at certain counter service locations without requiring advance notice.
From what I have been seeing all these Holiday food fares appear to be more delectable then what we have seen at the Wine and Food in September.
It is disappointing that they couldn’t bother to source these items from a kosher supplier. While I’m not familiar with all the specifics, (I’m not Jewish, so maybe someone else with more information will chime in) I do know that it requires special preparation as well as the blessing of a Rabbi so in general prices are higher. (For example, Farmer John All-Beef hotdogs are notably cheaper than Hebrew Nationals)
On the positive side, that pastrami on rye looks fantastic.