Whether you’re a foodie or just a hungry traveler, a gastronome on a mission or a hearty eater on a moderate budget, eating out will be one of your most memorable adventures in France. The food and drink writing on this site is devoted to those adventures and to the characters that people them. We seek neither to sell the star system nor to tell you how to maintain a slim budget, and we prefer to leave the merely trendy to the merely trendy.
The editor or guest writers or contributors to France Revisited have personally tested, and in many cases retested, the establishments described here.
The personal nature of these choices will be clear to you as you read them. Along with the table, the dishes, the wine, the service, the atmosphere and the decor, what leads us to appreciate a place or dish or drink is the adventure and the experience of eating and drinking in various setting with various people, and sometimes alone.
Wherever we eat, it’s the people at your table who make or break the meal. Good company, even if that company is yourself, will save a bad meal, but a good meal rarely makes up for bad company—though good wine helps. That in mind, you will encounter here a smorgasbord of food-friendly co-testers in these reviews, from faithful sidekicks to notable professionals to curious travelers.
Some of these restaurant writings may even read as interviews as much as reviews—call them restaurant intereviews.
There are no “must eats” on the Paris restaurant scene or in the various regions of France, only wise, personal selections. The wise hungry traveler knows that there’s a time to spend more for quality and a time to spend less for character, a time when you want to luxuriate in the view from the high road and a time to sit down to hearty tradition, a time to go regional and a time to go foreign, a time for a brasserie and a time for a café, a time to make reservations and a time to carry bread and cheese to the park.
If you want what are generally considered the elite of French restaurants you need only head for the stars in the Michelin Red Guides, a major influence of the reputation of restaurants of haute cuisine in France. We love haute cuisine with the right company, on the right expense account. We highly recommend the experience and the luxuriance. However, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you choose a restaurant by its ratings or polling results, whatever guide you may be consulting.
More than any specific restaurants, it’s variety that we recommend. It isn’t where you should be eating in Paris that counts, but where you will find your personal blend of enjoyment and gratification, perhaps with a touch of adventure and discovery.
A sophisticated palate is a nice arm to have in your traveling arsenal, but eating out in France shouldn’t be approached as an intellectual exercise or some form of X-Game in which only the strongest stomachs survive. Instead, this adventure calls for exploring the rich variety of eating experiences available in France (and this is particularly true of Paris): outdoor markets, cafés, bistros, brasseries, cuisine bourgeoise (serving polished classics), regional cuisine, gastronomic restaurants, foreign restaurants, wine bistros, and wine bars. You’ll find that variety—and variety within that variety—among these reviews and intereviews.
We am a hopeful, optimistic reviewers. We hope that every restaurant we test will excite us in some way, that we can recommend it as a perfect place for romance, family, friends, celebration, negotiation, onion soup, duck, fish, apple pie, etc. So we enter each restaurant wanting to believe the promise that led us there in the first place—its situation, its menu, its décor, its name, an advertisement, my own previous meals there, suggestions of friends, acquaintances, strangers, chefs, restaurateurs or fellow restaurant writers. By the time we leave we want to feel that we’ve discovered (or rediscovered) something, even if what we’ve just (re)discovered has been known and written about for years.
Of course, that isn’t always the case, so don’t expect rave comments about every dish and drink mentioned here.
Add to these reviews and writings your companion(s) for the meals, your taste and mood at the time, and the hazards of dining out, and you come away with your own restaurant adventures in France.