Eating in a French Brasserie!


Contents

    On the menu of a Parisian brasserie you will maybe find a few dishes that you were not expecting or you don't really know what it means. Follow the guide, I'm pleased to help you!

    But first what is exactly a brasserie?

    The word brasserie is also French for "brewery" and, by extension, "the brewing business". By extension now it means a French-style restaurant that serves cheap and simple food. Originally where workers were going. Some are not cheap anymore we have to say. They still serve traditional French cuisine.

    Do not trust too much those who have a menu of 10 pages and serve absolutely everything… Not homemade for sure.

    In France usually people take time to eat a quick but filling lunch, they need to recharge their batteries for the afternoon working hours, most of us are finishing work around 7PM and are not going to be back home before 8 to 8.30, so lunch is usually around 1PM and consists in: A main course, desert and expresso coffee.

    French Brasserie

    French Brasserie

    Little advice from a local about what to taste...

    Starters

    Oysters

    Normandy is not far and the river Seine was an easy way of transportion for sea products. So, don’t be surprised to see oysters in many restaurants. Some French oysters such as Marenne, Utah, fine de Claires…are very famous, more or less salty. Always pair them with a glass of fresh, mineral white wine.

    Hard-boiled eggs & mayonnaise

    Can also come as Oeufs Mimosa (Mimosa cocktail doesn’t exist here, don’t push me on that I’m from Champagne region and it should not exist anywhere 😉), local name for Devil eggs! So typical of old school French brasseries when workers were searching for cheap filling dishes. Best in town are supposed to be in Restaurant Le Voltaire.

    Onion soup

    Just the dish every tourist wants to have in Paris! Touristy restaurants even managed to call it “French onion soup”, ok… Maybe… but choose a very good place to pick it and enjoy it, most of touristy places will serve you something over salted, and not homemade, basically a tasty powder in hot water and tons of cheese to hide it. This famous Onion soup is also coming from the worker world, in les Halles district when the market was finally set after hours of manutention, “les Forts”, the strong boys where craving for this light, but filling soup. Truth is we actually don’t do it at home and for most of us, last time we had one was in a situation of hangover.

    Onion soup

    Onion soup

    Marrowbone

    Also, a “strong boy” tradition, cheap but tasty, not the lightest starter. People actually really eat that, on toasted bread with rocky salt.

    Leeks, French dressing and hazelnuts

    Delicious Grand Ma starter, simple but soooo good! Real family food.

    Snails & parsley butter

    Best of it is the butter. Let’s be clear about that, whatever would be soak in garlic, parsley and butter would become much more appealing.
    Yes, we actually eat escargots, No we don’t eat that every day!
    If you want to taste them in a nice place, l'Escargot Montorgueil made his reputation on that.

    escargots

    escargots

    Smoked herring & potato salad

    Ho Yes ! Another simple so good starter!
    Best memory in Chez George.

    Foie gras, onion or fig chutney

    Yes we do love it ! No Christmas is not Christmas without this, and yes you should try because it is part of French culture.
    Every duck recipe comes wonderfully with a touch of sweet, don’t be surprised if a little chutney of fig or onion comes with.

    Blue cheese, walnut and chicory salad

    Again, easy things are the best sometime, another family starter or light diner.

    Farmhouse Terrine, toast & pickles

    Made of pork, pair it with a glass of Bourgogne red wine, delicious. On a board it can come with “saucisson”, local Salami, all these pork products are named Charcuterie. If you want to experience all that, take a cheese board, and a “charcuterie” board and share it! Some great spots such as O Chateau have real good farmer’s products.

    Charcuterie

    Charcuterie

    Main dishes

    Burgundy beef stew or beef Bourguignon

    A real winter warming dish, usually coming with mashed potatoes, cooked hours in a red wine sauce. Good and easy to taste even for kids.

    Beefsteak & French fries

    Classic, some restaurants are very famous for a good steak frites. You want a great address: go to le relais de L’entrecote, they have different restaurants in the city, a staff exclusively feminine, no choice, steak and frites for everyone! Don’t take veg people with you they would find no alternative.
    Personal advice: to avoid to line forever, go early, before the French people so at 7PM.

    Beef tartare

    Steak tartare is a meat dish made from raw ground (minced) beef. It is usually served with onions, capers, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings, often presented to the diner separately, to be added for taste. It is often served with a raw egg yolk on top of the dish. And french fries.

    Duck confit with Sarladaise potatoes

    Duck is everywhere in menus, French people are eating so much duck, when we travel it is among the things, we miss the most…
    Duck confit, literally means duck leg canded (in fat), it turns it melty inside and crispy outside, yummy! Even kids will ask for more.
    Sarladaise potatoes, specialty of Sarlat, south west of France, gorgeous small town where so many duck specialties are produced, it means potatoes roasted on duck fat with garlic and parsley. Not such a light dish but very good.

    Quiche and salad

    Can be an easy, tasty option for a light lunch, this savoury tart exists with so many different fillings, and usually has a veg option.

    Croque Monsieur

    Warm ham and cheese toasted sandwich, served with green salad. Favourite of kids lost in front of a french Menu.

    Sausage and purée

    Traditional, basic and tasty. Take care about the sausage named Andouillette AAAA, which is a pork intestine sausage, very strong in taste and maybe not so adapted to foreign palates.

    Sole Meunière or fish meunière

    Means fish in a butter lemon sauce. Created in rue Montorgueil, by Les Halles, still a classic of fish restaurants or fancy brasseries.

    Black pudding and mashed potatoes

    Even kids in France are used to eat black pudding, sometime little bit spicy if it comes from Les Antilles (WestIndies). Delicious one in la Fontaine de Mars.

    Pot-au-feu (boiled beef stew)

    Nothing better than this light brothel, vegetables and variety of meats, mustard, with French baguette and a glass of red wine. Comfort family French food.

    Rolled calf’s head, gribiche sauce

    It is what it is, a calf’s head, if you feel like tasting the hardest part will be the texture, taste is actually soft, coming with a mustard dressing, well peppered.

    Veal blanquette, pearl onions

    A veal stew in a light lemony creamy sauce, served with rice, comfy, easy to begin with French cuisine, kids will love it!

    Pig’s feet

    Same it is what it is! Problem: it looks like a foot! At the pied de cochon they serve it prepared in a kind of sausage, truly a great idea to discover it and enjoy it.

    Omelets

    Because we prefer our eggs under the shape of an omelet for a lunch or lazy diner, served with green salad and stuffed with potatoes, mushrooms or cheese. Parisian brasseries are very willing to serve it with fries…

    Summer will also push you to our huge salads, very filling, complete and fresh!

    Cheeses

    We eat cheese plate with a glass of wine when we feel lazy, or, and more often between main course and desert with a green salad. So many varieties, I will make a whole post about French cheeses a bit later!

    wine and cheese

    wine and cheese

    Deserts

    I know I will take back your attention with deserts coming! So many but you will notice tasting it that they are not extremely sweet, tastier than sugary.
    Portions are not huge, not many people would go to a restaurant without finishing by a sweet note. Some of us (I would not give names) even choose their main course after their desert.

    Here some classics:

    Rice pudding, salted butter caramel

    Family Grand Ma desert, that you find easily and even more in dairy regions of France such as Normandy.

    Crepe Suzette

    A crepe flambee in Grand Marnier, great from the show, the pic and the taste.

    crepe

    crepe

    Soufflé

    To order usually at the beginning of diner because it takes time to cook, it is so delicious to eat a chocolate (or other flavor) cloud! If you want to push the experience go the Soufflé restaurant, a cheese soufflé with salad is to die for!

    soufflé

    soufflé

    Floating island

    Soft Meringue floating on custard cream and covered with a bit of caramel.

    Pink praline (candied nut) tart

    Amazing but so hard to find, this one is really sweet by the way.

    Chocolate Profiterole

    Chou pastry stuffed with vanilla ice cream, covered, no not covered, soaked in melted chocolate and whipped cream. No more to say, you will never see the world the same after that and ask for French nationality.

    Mont blanc

    From the name of the highest mountain in the Alps. A chestnut cream and soft meringue cake, one place turned it in an art: Ladurée!

    Rum Baba, whipped cream

    Some people crave for a Rum baba, some others will never understand this cake, pick you side!
    A sponge cake soaked in a syrup of rum and sugar, with whipped cream and some time raisins in Rum too.

    Lemon pie

    A classic, really tasting like lemon, sometime comes “meringuée” and become sweeter.

    Lemon tart

    Lemon tart

    Personal advice

    Many foreigners are expected to have butter coming with their bread, it is not always the case in France, if you really want to, you can ask for it.

    Waiters can look weird at you if you order a cappuccino or coffee with your lunch, for us it is a morning thing.

    We tip waiters in France, actually more in big cities than in the countryside.
    No percentage is expected and it is not mandatory. Still if the service was good, the waiter will highly appreciate a tip.

    If you have a sensitive stomach you better drink mineral water during your stay.

    Lemonade on a French menu is not a great mix of fresh lemon, sugar and water, it is just a soda. You might be disappointed. If you want a real one, ask for lemon juice and sparkling water.

    When you will enter in a café, the waiter will ask you if you want to stay at "le comptoir", the lunch counter, seat in a table in the main room, or outside in the "terrasse". Prices can be diffferent.

    What you sould not do is to choose "take away" and then seat, as taxes are different fro the two services that can make them not so happy.

    And finally be curious, we are famous for eating pretty well, pizzas and pastas are not our specialty, italians do that much better and you can discover so many amazing dishes during your stay!

    And you what have you experienced in France? What was your favorite food discovery?

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    Written by My_Paris_Tour_Guide
    Hi, I'm Céline and I would be very honored to share my travel tips about Paris with you ! I'm an licenced official tour guide in france, working in the city of lights since 15 years, ready to follow the guide ?

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