There is lots to love about the French but especially their sense of abandon. America's French chef, Julia Child, captured the sentiment when she said, "If you're afraid of butter, use cream." Americans are coming to understand the French Paradox of eating: choose quality over quantity and indulge in buttery croissant, paté, a rich stew, a juicy glass of red and macarons. And many still hold tightly to the belief that the French produce the best food on the planet.
French cuisine can be sophisticated or of the comforting peasant variety but it's all generally well-balanced, flavorful and composed of local and high-quality ingredients. A trip to Paris may be a little rich for most of us, so the next best place to have a mean Coquilles Saint-Jacques or Coq au Vin is at any of the authentic French eateries in Chicago.
Celebrating 20 years in Chicago, Mon Ami Gabi offers expertly prepares French classics in warm surroundings in Lincoln Park and Chez Moi is like a holiday visit to your French uncle's place. The food and atmosphere at intimate Le Bouchon is inspired by the Rhone-Alpes region of France; Brindille is a modern model of Parisian sexiness; and Margeaux Brasserie takes culinary revelers to 1920's Paris.
Not all blow your budget, either. Café Marie-Jeanne is casual, friendly and an affordable find for French food fans and La Sardine offers a $35 prix fixe menu - an outstanding value.
Even though you may never have a munchie attack for tarte au pistou on a Saturday night, just remember where the almighty French fry originated. Experience frites and more at any of the c'est manifique French restaurants in Chicago.