Thursday, January 31, 2013

Restaurant hopping in La Belle France!!

Its every foodie's dream come true to eat their way through France, and this wonderful dream came true for me this December. Four cities in France, starting at the south with Montpellier, moving slowly northwards to Lyon, then on to Paris and then to the border of Germany to Strasbourg!! Every day, at every meal I swore that I would eat light/skip the next meal because I had stuffed myself at this one, only to hear a little voice in my head say 'God knows when you will be in France again'. So I ate..and drank wine..and ate some more.

Of the many many meals I devoured, my most favourite was the Christmas extravaganza at the home of the Martin family. But for those of us who do not have access to the Martin family dining room, here are my five favourite restaurant experiences in France.

1) La Girafe- Montpellier:-
 A beautiful restaurant in an old medieval building, it has the unique quality of being cosy and intimate for a romantic meal, or fun and vivacious for a lunch with the ladies. If its the former you are interested in, ask to be seated upstairs under one of the gorgeous arches, while you savour their impeccable food. All the ingredients are fresh, locally sourced and treated with the love and respect they deserve. We had the tartare au boeuf with the side of the most creamy mashed potatoes I have ever tasted. Divine!! For dessert we had a cinnamon shortbread with a lemon curd. Im not a huge fan of lemon/lime flavours,  but this was the perfect balance of sweet and sour. Food was excellent, service impeccable and ambiance perfect!

2) Le repalation - Montpellier
 This is one of those tiny, little places that you may never go to unless you are with someone who has lived in this city, and I was lucky enough to go. What this place lacks in ambiance it makes up for in personality. Filled with gifts, postcards and bottles of alcohol brought back/sent by their regular customers from their travels across the world, coming here is in a strange way like coming home. The food is simple, delicious pizza made from the freshest ingredients, literally right before your eyes, brought to your table with a warm smile and light banter. Gorgeous, gorgeous desserts. One of the best tiramisus I have ever tasted.

Very apt graffiti near Le repalation ' The best pizza in the worst world'

 3)Bouchon de l'opera- Lyon

I walked in and I was smitten. Rustic, hearty Lyonnaise food is what this place is known for. There is a sign on the wall that says 'You kill it, we grill it'. Its a family run place, with the dad in the kitchen and the daughter handling the service. The lovely lady handed us the menus and explained all the regional specialties to us.We however, let her choose for us and were delighted. The 'gratin d'andouilette au St. Marcellin' was outstanding. Beware while you order as the portion sizes are large and the food is rich. We lingered over our meal for a long time, chatting and laughing with our hosts. Each customer was made to feel special, their needs tended to and wine glasses refilled at the appropriate times. Overall was a wonderful experience, and a must visit if you are in Lyon.

4) La cloche a fromage - Strasbourg
The best culinary experience I had in France, I might even go as far as saying , the best culinary experience I have ever had. Unequivocally fantastic!! I have never before been in a place where the staff are so passionate about the cheese they make, the dishes they serve, the wine they pour. Their only mission is to ensure that you celebrate every bite and every sip you take. The memory of Thibaut, the maitre fromager (loosely translated as cheese master) guiding us through France using the cheese platter is forever etched in my heart. Needless to say, the food is top notch. I would make the trip from Paris to Strasbourg just to eat here again!!
PS: They also hold the Guiness Record for the 'Worlds biggest Cloche a Fromage' which holds over 100 varieties of cheese

PPS: The BEST Tiramisu ever!!

The biggest 'Cloche a fromage' in the world

The famed Tiramisu

My favourite cheese; Roquefort

5) Clown Bar - Paris
Of all the many restaurants there are in Paris, it is so hard to decide which ones to eat at, when you are there for a short while and want to make the best of every meal. So we relied on the expertise of a long time Parisian, and he took us to Clown Bar. It is located close to the CIrque d' Hiver and retains the circus theme in its decor. The restaurant has an eclectic personality, as does the owner who loves to regale his customers with fascinating tales about his place. The menu is limited,but the food is brilliant. Traditional French cuisine made with fresh, local produce. Perfect!!

France really brought out the 'gourmand' in me. I delighted in every bite and savoured every sip!!


  1. Yum. The post made me want to travel back in time and visit these beautiful places or travel back to France to visit the places I haven't been to! Sigh.

    1. Lets go! I am dying to spend everyday looking for the next yummy meal!

  2. I shall ensure I go to all of these places at some point in my life. I wont be worried about anything because a wonderful critic just gave her stamp of approval :D:D....

    1. Hahaha! Im glad you feel that way!!:D

  3. The French cuisine always awesome! in Vietnam also have many French brand.
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  4. Having been spoilt by your creations in Blore thanks to Nidhi I just wanted to drop in and say thanks .. your chocolate cake would've made Nigella very proud :) and wow! The food trip looks lovely.. all the adorable french whimsy added to enticing food!

    1. Arpita!! Welcome to my blog!! Your comment has just caused me to float 4 feet off the ground!!

      The french are awesome and so wonderfully cuckoo about food!!