French Restaurants

Hey guys! This week we’re going to be talking about French food! And to start off with, we’re going to cover French restaurants. First, we’ll cover French etiquette since this is huge in France! Then I’ll talk about my experience at a French-inspired restaurant here in San Diego. Sorry, for anyone who thought I might talk about the French restaurants I went to in France. I was fifteen at the time, and it was ten years ago so my memory isn’t the greatest.

I’ve mentioned this multiple times but I’ll say it again, the French care about etiquette! They don’t eat a lot of snacks so every meal is a family-style sit down meal. According to French culture, it’s not okay to:

  • Order just an appetizer
  • Split a meal with someone else (that’s an insult to the chef who proportioned it for one person)
  • Ask for a substitution/replacement (unless you have a food allergy, the chef will feel insulted)
  • Ask for something that’s not on the table (if there’s no butter/salt/pepper/etc. then it’s because the dish, in the eyes of the chef, is so tasty that it doesn’t need it… you want to tell the chef otherwise?)
  • Don’t expect bread to be served as an appetizer (often bread is served to absorb sauces served with your meal)
  • Don’t ask the waiter to run separate tabs (French waiters aren’t like American waiters, from the U.S., they don’t have the saying “the customer is always right” and lean more towards the customer is always wrong)
  • Don’t leave a tip (the tip is always included in the bill so if you leave more money, you just look like a snob)
  • Don’t ask for leftovers (the French look down on “doggie bags”)
  • Don’t place hands or elbows on the table
  • Don’t Instagram your food

Things to do:

  • Feel free to ask for tap water in a carafe (they’ll try to push bottle on you but don’t feel obliged to drink bottled water)
  • Have wine with your meal (but don’t feel obliged to)
  • To order coffee whenever you want (the French drink it with breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Use your utensils more than your hands (there’s very few finger food)
  • Dress up a bit (in general the French dress up more than us here in the U.S. – especially us here in CA)
  • Pay attention to the time you eat (most French people believe lunch should be between 12-2pm and dinner is 8-10pm)
  • If you’re a non-French speaker in France: don’t assume your waiter speaks English/Spanish/etc. (always ask)
  • Accept the aperitif (pre-dinner drink) even if you want it to be non-alcoholic
  • Feel free to make reservations (recommended for small or fancy establishments)

First of all, my husband and I are pescatarians so anything that we buy/eat are going to be vegetarian (or fish). However, if there is anything that I convert from a meat dish to a vegetarian dish, I’ll include both recipes. We went to this place in Mission Valley called Mimi’s Café which is a really cute French-inspired restaurant.

For lunch, I had coffee and split a shrimp pasta dish with my husband. It was AMAZING! And then we each had our own bowl of tomato basil soup. Once again, so good!!! And we got a basket of bread for the table (DELICIOUS!). I loved everything about that meal!

But then we had the birthday crêpe cake… and it was just wrong. Everything about it was wrong. It tasted like sugary toothpaste on sponge cake. And probably was more American (U.S.) than French but the dish we ordered wasn’t available so they brought us that instead. DO GO HERE, but for dessert, stick to the muffins. I didn’t have one cause this month’s is pineapple and I’m allergic to pineapple but they smelled good.

We loved Mimi’s so much that we went back for breakfast! This time my husband had the coffee while I sipped on a mimosa. Yummmmmmmm! And we both had the egg, spinach and cheese crêpes with potatoes. Two thumbs up!

Here are some recipes close to what we ate:

French bread:

Tomato basil soup:

Shrimp Pasta (for this recipe: replace the last three ingredients with fresh basil, broccoli and tomatoes):

Birthday crêpe cake (for those of you who think you can do better):

Egg, Spinach and cheese crêpes:

Mango mimosa:


Bon appétit!


P.S. This might be weird but I’m really impressed whenever a restaurant has a decent bathroom, and the bathrooms at Mimi’s Café are really cool!

2,243 thoughts on “French Restaurants”

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