Le Menu | French conversation topic for beginners

A list of questions, keywords and expressions for starting and maintaining a conversation in the French language on the topic of ordering food.

Learn the meaning of the different words you would typically find in a French menu. Here is a list of words, with their definitions, which you can typically find in a French food menu. 

Ask each other those questions

  • Quel est ton restaurant préféré?
    • À quelle fréquence y vas-tu? Quel type de plats sert-t-il?
  • Préfères-tu manger à l’intérieur du restaurant ou en terrasse?
    • Pourquoi?
  • Au restaurant, prends-tu un apéritif pour commencer?
    • Qu’est-ce que tu commandes?
  • Commandes-tu souvent le même plat principal ou essaies-tu différents types de plats principaux?
    • De quoi sont-ils composés?
  • Si tu décides de commander une entrecôte, comment préfères-tu la cuisson pour celle-ci : bleue, saignante, à point ou très cuite?
  • D’habitude, qu’est-ce que tu prends comme dessert?
    • As-tu déjà dégusté des desserts français typiques?
    • Quel est ton dessert français préféré?
  • Prends-tu une boisson avec ton repas? Qu’est-ce que tu prends?
  • Laisses-tu habituellement un pourboire si le service t’a plu?
    • Comment le calcules-tu?

la carte a menu with a selection of individually priced dishes which you can choose from. When you order from this menu, then you order à la carte
une dégustation a tasting menu which includes different types of dishes, with an option for a drink pairing, served in several courses


Un apéritif  an alcoholic beverage served before a meal
Un amuse-bouche derived from the verbs amuser (to amuse) and bouche (mouth), it is one to two bites of flavour that starts the dining experience.
Une entrée from the verb entre (to enter), it is the appetizer or the starter of a meal. (In other countries like the US or Canada, this can mean "main course".)
Le plat principal the main course and the main event of the meal.
Le fromage  the cheese course. In France, cheese is served after the main course and before the dessert. Sometimes, it also replaces the dessert.
Le dessert 

a sweet course eaten at the end of the meal

Le café coffee that is served after the dessert
Un digestif an alcoholic beverage served after a meal


Food categories
La viande meat
La volaille poultry
Le boeuf beef
L’agneau lamb
Le porc pork
Le poulet chicken
La dinde turkey
Les fruits de mer seafood
La poisson fish
Les legumes vegetables


Popular French dishes
la soupe à l’oignon onion soup
le coq au vin chicken braised slowly in red wine and brandy
la salade niçoise salad that typically has anchovies, tuna, olives, tomato, and green vegetables
le bœuf bourguignon slow cooked beef braised in red win
le foie gras fatty liver of a goose or duck
les huîtres  oysters
les coquilles Saint-Jacques scallops
le poulet basquaise chicken stew with tomatoes and red pepper sauce
la blanquette de veau veal stew in cream sauce
l'escargots à la bourguignonne snails cooked in garlic and herb butter
la ratatouille vegetable stew made with eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onion, and garlic seasoning
les moules marinières mussels and onions cooked in white wine
le confit de canard a whole duck marinated with herbs, spices, and preserved using duck fat

la bouillabaisse

seafood stew cooked with olive oil and different herbs, particularly saffron. 
la tartiflette baked potatoes with reblochon cheese


Ordering your steak
Bleue Very rare. Cooked on a very hot grill for one minute on each side.
Saignant Bloody. Still very rare but cooked slightly longer on the second side compared to «bleu».
À point Rare to medium rare.
Bien cuit Well done but with a very slight pink still remaining at the center.
Très bien cuit Very well done with all of the meat and juices brown.


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