Paris dining for Chicagoans

The Louvre Palace and the Pyramid, France

The Chicagoan’s Guide to Dining in Paris

What’s even better than eating at a French restaurant in Chicago? Eating at one in Paris, of course.

Caution: once you eat at Maison Parisienne, you may want to immediately book a trip to France. Here are some dining-out tips to help you out once you’re there:

– Chicagoans who are used to having a fantastic array of restaurants open nearly round the clock may be surprised to find that French restaurants typically serve lunch only from approximately 12:00-2:30 p.m., and dinner from about 7:30-11:00 p.m.

– If you have 7:30 reservations at Café des Architectes on Chicago’s Gold Coast, it’s best to arrive a few minutes early. However, if you have 7:30 reservations at Le Grand Véfour in 1st arrondissement, you might stroll in several minutes later. Don’t worry, your table will be there (of course you would have called to cancel if you weren’t coming, rather than just not show up).

– Many French restaurants use chalkboard or whiteboards to list the day’s selections, rather than printing them on paper. This not only allows the restaurant to change the menu frequently, but it’s more eco-friendly, too. More and more Chicago restaurants are following suit.

– You have to order water – it won’t be brought unless you ask – and specify avec gas (sparkling) or sans gas (still). Don’t expect ice in beverages. Europe had a long ice age once, and we’ve been averse to the stuff ever since.

– All French restaurants add a 15% service charge to your bill, so you don’t have to leave a tip. You don’t have to leave a tip in American restaurants either, but if you don’t, it best to keep your coat over your head on the way out.

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