Famous for crepes, fine chesses and frog legs, French food is characterised by its great diversity. Each region in France has its own very distinct tastes so don't be surprised if the menu at a French restaurant in the UK is packed to bursting with a wide variety of dishes that evoke each of the different regions.
French restaurants - Flavours to savour
There are many different flavours to savour when it comes to French cuisine, so don't worry if you're not a fan of frogs legs, there are plenty more dishes to choose from. There are some very distinct tastes in French food, from the olives and seafood of Provence to the butter and roasts of Tours, food is central to culture and society in France.
You will find that both wine and cheese are hugely important in French food, as both accompaniments and ingredients, so if you like these then you'll probably enjoy French cuisine. However, olive oil, herbs, garlic, butter and cream also play fundamental roles in French dishes, so expect to taste these in your meal too.
In most cases, a French meal begins with hors d'oeuvre and is followed by soup, a main course, usually consisting of meat and vegetables, a side salad, cheese, and dessert.
French restaurants - First visit food
If you're heading to a French restaurant for the first time then you're going to want to order a meal that allows you to taste the diverse range of cuisine the French have to offer. However, you will also want food that you know your taste buds can handle, so frogs legs may be best saved for the second visit!
Why not try a soup or tomato and mozzarella salad for starter, followed by Beef au Poivre, which is sautéed beef in peppercorn sauce, or Chicken Cordon Bleu, which is breaded chicken stuffed with ham and cheese. For dessert you could have an old favourite such as profiteroles with fruit and cream.
Get a feel for French restaurants
You will probably find that most French restaurants in the UK will have traditional decor, such as wooden floors, chandeliers and white tablecloths, and, of course, candlelight. So if you're planning a romantic dinner for two to celebrate an anniversary or special occasion, then you can't go far wrong with a trip to a French restaurant, as even the minimalist modern versions have candlelight and soft romantic music.
Find French food in the UK
If you're looking for a top rated French restaurant then you'll be pleased to know there are many to choose from, particularly in London:
Chez Bruce, London - Still popular some 10 years after it first opened, this restaurant offers a regularly changing menu with classic French favourites and new dishes with Mediterranean influences.
Belvedere, London - With a mix of modern British and French dishes, this restaurant has a very romantic setting at Holland Park in a building that was once home to Karl Marx. There is seating on the terrace area so you can enjoy your French cuisine in the summer sunshine, just as they do in Paris.
Almeida, Islington, London - This bar and restaurant serves an array of French and vegetarian dishes in a brasserie-style setting.
Embassy, London - A favourite on the celebrity scene, this restaurant, bar and nightclub has stylish interior and offers exquisite French-influenced cuisine.
Things to look out for at French restaurants in the UK
There are a number of things to remember when it comes to eating out in a French restaurant. The first thing is that vegetarianism is not widespread in France and therefore most French dishes are meat-based. Vegetarians may find their choice is limited in a French restaurant, although some UK restaurants now offer French-influenced vegetarian cuisine.
French people consider cooking as a part of their culture and so they do not like to take shortcuts when preparing a meal. This means you will get proper home-cooked French cuisine in a restaurant, and you should allow plenty of time for the meal because the French don't like to rush dinner.
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