You’ve probably heard of the French Paradox by now. It’s just one more reason to hate the French. Well, hate may be a little too strong of a word, maybe envious is more like it. They drink lots of wine and eat baguettes and other high-fat foods like creamy sauces, red meat, butter and cheese and still stay slim and have less heart disease
than we do. So what is the secret? Some think it’s because the French eat real food, not processed food like chips, fast food, and soda. They eat a variety of fresh foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, and they don’t eat a lot at one sitting. They value quality over quantity. They also view eating as an indulgence, a slow leisurely pleasure, something to be enjoyed with good conversation and plenty of time. Americans, on the other hand, have a different relationship with food that often excludes pleasure and tends to overindulgence. Americans eat 10% to 30% more per sitting than they need to. It’s a half of a pound of pasta or a pound of steak. So there you go. You no longer have to think about eating at a French restaurant as a high-fat guilty pleasure. Do as the French, take your time, have a glass of wine or two before dinner and savor the experience, you might just lose some weight. Here are a few of the better French restaurants to do that in around St. Louis:
CafÃ?Â© Provencal 26 N. Meramec. (314) 725-2755 The menu here changes regularly though pate, escargot, and cured salmon are usually available and usually very good. Like practically every restaurant in France, CafÃ?Â© Provencal has a cheese course. They are also available as appetizers or a dessert. The wine list consists of mostly small importers of European wines and they are modestly priced and well matched with the food. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff about what they would recommend. The French onion soup here is outstanding as well as the pistou and the vegetable soups. French country dishes like daube, a rich beef stew, are well spiced and delicious. The steaks are good and the bÃ?Â©arnaise sauce here could make anything taste good. The salmon with a little Pommery mustard was excellent and be sure to check out the chicken de Bergerac. Desserts here are French with a touch of Americana. Try the raspberry Bavarian or the dacquoise, which is a nut meringue, loaded with lots or whipped cream.
Chez Leon 4580 Laclede Ave. (314) 361-1589 Expect traditional French dishes here served up with unconventional meats like frog’s legs, skate, and wild boar. The French classic sauces like bÃ?Â©chamel, veloute, and hollandaise are expertly prepared. The walls are adorned with vintage cognac posters and a mural depicting an expanse of pitched rooftops. The tables are draped with the requisite white linen and set with silverware that is, well, just too big and bulky. Your waiter will bring you an amuse-bouche from the chef, which is sort of a teaser. Then you can order and enjoy your meal course by tantalizing course.
The Melting Pot 294 Lamp and Lantern, Town and Country. (636) 207-6358 Ok, not really a full service French restaurant per se, but what’s more French than fondue and this little place certainly is a lot of fun. Each booth is equipped with its own tabletop fondue pot. You can start with a cheese fondue with an assortment of breads, fruits and veggies for dipping. Entrees include lobster, fish, chicken and vegetarian selections. For dessert try the flaming turtle, a mix of chocolate and caramel that is flambÃ?Â©ed tableside and served with nut-covered marshmallows, fresh fruit, pound cake, brownies, and cheesecake. Yummm.