When most of us order take-out food, it’s pizza or chicken chow mien or something like that: tasty but not what you’d call elegant.
By contrast, restaurants with Michelin stars serve food that is the epitome of elegance—Duck à l’Orange presented on fine china, that sort of thing. Not what you would imagine being sold “to go.” Until now.
With the coronavirus in France forcing restaurants to close their doors, even those with Michelin stars have had to get creative to pay the bills. Some are now offering takeaway food for prices well below what they usually charge. Instead of meals costing hundreds of euros, these restaurants are offering dishes for as little as 8 euros! Prepared by the great chef him- or herself!
Near the Palace of Versailles is Le Numéro 3, where chef Laurant Trochain offers a daily plat du jour “to go” for an astonishingly low 11.50 euros. Lamb Shank Confit with Cumin and Roast Pork with Sesame and Onion were two of his recent mouthwatering dishes. “It’s not the same level of cuisine,” says chef Trochain, “and we don’t include expensive items like saffron and truffles, but we still use local ingredients of high quality.”
Let’s take a tour around l’Hexagone and see what’s cooking.
In Reims, the capital of the Champagne region, we find the French/Japanese restaurant Racine. Chef Kazuyuki Tanaka is currently offering salads for 8 euros and “bento boxes” with dishes like Pigeon with Mushrooms for 15-20 euros. Chef Tanaka says, “Even though it is not the same as my usual cuisine, I prepare quality dishes that are well seasoned and well cooked. The fundamentals are the same.” It makes you wish you were in Reims right now, doesn’t it?
In the Alsatian town of Rixheim, chef Laurent Haller of Le 7eme Continent offers takeaway dishes priced at 8 to 20 euros. The menu changes every few days and one of his recent offerings was Freshwater Fish and Frog Pie—this being France, after all.
On the shore of beautiful Lake Annecy, Restaurant Jean Sulpice offers weekly three-course menus to go for 35 euros. One recent offering was “Spring vegetable salad with herbs from my garden and a caraway condiment; Lake fish soup infused with tansy; and Breton shortbread covered in chocolate, with honey from our own hives.” In a creative twist, the restaurant is also selling wines to go at attractive prices.
Sunny Provence is home to l’Auberge la Fenière, the world’s only entirely gluten-free restaurant with a Michelin star. The mother-daughter team of Reine and Nadia Sammut have created a special weekend takeaway menu with dishes like Octopus Salad with New Potatoes for 10 euros and Chocolate Mousse with Roasted Hazelnuts for 5 euros. As a bonus, Fenière will deliver in the local area.
Les Jardins de L’Opéra in the “pink city” of Toulouse has a daily plat du jour to go for 15 euros. One recent dish—Roast Veal with Mushroom Risotto and Truffle Juice—was so popular that it sold out in minutes. “I offer hearty dishes,” says chef Stéphane Tournié, “that are not necessarily gourmet, but I give them my touch and I have fun!” Chef Tournié also donates meals to local hospitals and posts videos of easy recipes for people looking to cook something new.
The Basque Country
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In the ritzy beach city of Biarritz, L’Atelier de Aexandre Bousquet offers three-course takeaway meals for 25 euros with dishes like Pork Filet Mignon with Basque Blue Cheese. “My goal is to keep in touch with my customers during confinement,” says chef Bousquet, “and bring them pleasure and conviviality.” With food like this and such low prices, there’s no doubt that he is.
Restaurants everywhere have had to get creative to survive the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Consider ordering takeout from one of your favourites—restaurants need our help to make it through this difficult time.