No one takes food more seriously than the French. But the truth is, not every famous dish should be ordered in a French restaurant.
People often talk about famous French dishes. However, most restaurants and bars still tempt visitors with plain classic dishes – dishes that the French themselves would never order in a restaurant. Do not let your trip to France become “clumsy” just because of the waiter’s sweet words. Here are some dishes you should never order in a French restaurant.
7 dishes you should avoid ordering at French restaurants
A Café au Lait
You never see a Parisian ordering a cafe au lait, or rarely ordering anything but a little espresso, whether it’s the first morning of the week or a late-night dinner. For the French, white coffee is for drinking at home.
Instead, order a coffee crème. Similar to cappuccino, but it is much smoother and more glossy. This is a key product in the “new life” cafes in Paris.
If you need a bigger push, call two-shot grand crème at a coffee shop like Coffee Spoune, which “forbids the door” of the laptop for you to fully immerse yourself in the taste of coffee.
The best of French cuisine is the worst when you order in a cafe. Apart from the fact that croissants are not actually of French origin (they were brought to France from Vienna in the 1830s), the only place where the French find croissants is a local bakery and ideally 10 am.
If you’re having breakfast, order tartine, a traditional half-baguette served with salted butter and jam. Over time, tartine became increasingly sophisticated, especially at the end of the day. In Pimprenelle, Lyon, France, you will find tartine has extremely diverse topping, from smoked salmon to goat cheese and honey.
Escargots (snails) may be a classic Burgundia dish, but elsewhere, they are not and are mostly on the menu just to satisfy foreign visitors.
In return, there are many delicious alternatives. Try French tradition, starting your dinner at apéro (happy hour), when the bars have a snack menu to sip with wine.
No matter what region of France you travel to, calling rillettes is never wrong. French shredded meat (be it pork, poultry or fish) in Normandy or Nantes are equally delicious.
Bacon makes meals more delicious. So why order a simple salade verte (vegetable salad) when you can have aperitif with frisée aux lardons (bacon salad)? It is even more perfect if you combine it with a slightly heavy red wine, partially covering the flavor of the sauce. Frisée salads are too classic but increasingly popular with the revival of traditional beer and wine bars. Ordering in Bouillon Chartier Montparnasse, Paris is too standard.
Coq au Vin (Chicken braised with wine)
Like escargots, Coq au Vin (Chicken braised with wine) is a specialty of Burgundy. That means, if you go to other regions to order this dish, you have enjoyed a “bug version”. Unless you have dinner in Dijon city.
However, other regions also have their own version of casserole. In Alsace, look for lighter, softer coq au Riesling at cozy French restaurants like Chez Yvonne. It is made with white wine, reflecting the city’s proximity to Germany, served with spaëtzle instead of potatoes.
Farther south, in Jura, you’ll find coq au vin jaune that carries the region’s famous oxidized wine flavor. To go west, to Champagne, keep an eye out for coq au champagne. Of course!
France may be the place that makes the best butter in the world, but it’s not advisable to order butter to spread on bread. As this may change the butter texture. Even Brittany’s most famous artisans should not waste butter with bread.
Just put a slice of butter on the bread instead of using a spatula as this can change the texture of the butter. Or there is another way to make avocado for dinner: sprinkle the salty caramel butter sauce on the crêpe, another famous Brittany dish. There, there is no place to enjoy sweeter things than Crêperie Le Tournesol, on the coast of Saint Malo.
Bouillabaisse (Fish Soup)
Bouillabaisse may not be what you expected. Some are quite familiar with the Americanized version – simple fish and seafood soups – that are very expensive due to the reputation of being “foreign”. The original Bouillabaisse is in Marseille, which includes broth with garlic bread and sauces, plus four or five types of fish presented separately. It has a very characteristic taste, the sweet, dark fennel seed, the cool sweetness of the cumin, tomatoes and the fragrance of orange zest, saffron.
There are some great alternatives, even in Marseille. The excellent Le Peron restaurant offers one of the most elegant dishes: soupe de poissons de roche soup, made with the same fish as bouillabaisse and served as an appetizer.