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Beginners’ French: food and drink
Beginners’ French: food and drink

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2.1 Types of restaurants and menus

You can find all sorts of different restaurants in France. There are Italian restaurants and pizzerias in practically every town; Vietnamese restaurants are also common. North African immigrants (from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco) brought couscous (a grain related to semolina cooked with mutton, vegetables and spices), merguez (a spicy lamb sausage) and taboulé (a cold salad made with bulgur wheat and flavoured with mint and lemon).

‘Fusion’ cuisine, which makes use of a combination of international cooking styles, is on offer in a small but growing number of restaurants in France. However, it’s not easy to find vegetarian restaurants.

Le menu or la carte ?

Both le menu and la carte can be translated as ‘menu’ in English. French people will use either to request the menu in a restaurant. However, le menu is always used to refer to set menus. These are normally printed on a separate page in the menu . la carte ) or advertised at the entrance of the restaurant. Set menus can be advertised as, for example, menu à 21 €, menu gastronomique, menu touristique . The expression à la carte is used when you order your dishes from the full range of what is on offer. In brasseries and sandwicheries you may see the word formule instead of menu .

Figure 4

Activité 9

Look at the following pictures of restaurants and match them to the descriptions below, according to the type of cuisine they offer.

(Click on the photos or the words ‘View larger image’ to display a larger version of the photos.)

  • a.un restaurant grec
  • b.une couscousserie
  • c.un restaurant kebab turc
  • d.une pizzeria
  • e.un restaurant de cuisine française
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The correct answers are:

1 b 2 e 3 a 4 d 5 c

Activité 10

You are in a café-brasserie Le Bistro du Musée, deciding what to order. Look at the food items below and match the English dishes with their French equivalent.

Described image
Figure 6

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. a starter

  2. rabbit in mustard sauce

  3. apricot tart

  4. today’s special

  • a.plat du jour

  • b.une entrée

  • c.tarte aux abricots

  • d.lapin à la moutarde

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = b
  • 2 = d
  • 3 = c
  • 4 = a