Understand the menu in French 

A short French-English Glossary of  essential restaurant  terms.  

Translations of the main expressions found on French menus
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On this page:  Entrées Main courses
Desserts Methods of serving Various

Entrées / Starters

Andouillette: roast spicy tripe sausage.
Mediterranean fish soup.
cold meats
a thin soup
bits of deep-fried bread, or fried or grilled bread with chese.
selection of vegetable salads
Cuisses de grenouilles:
frogs' legs
puff pastry wrap
Jambon de montagne, jambon cru:
cured, uncooked ham.
ground meat or liver paste.
Paté de foie gras:
very rich goose liver or duck liver paté.
fingers or dumpling of ground white meat or fish, usually served with a creamy sauce;
Salade composée:
mixed green salad
Saumon fumé:
smoked salmon
Terrine: Paté,
cold meat

Plats principaux / Main courses :

a) Fish & seafood:

Brochet: pike (see quenelles above)
Cabillaud : cod
Crevettes: shrimps
Daurade: Sea bream
Flétan: Halibut
Fruits de mer: selection of shellfish and crustaceans
Homard: lobster
Loup (Loup de mer) : Sea bass
Moules: mussels
Poulpe: octopus
Raie: Ray
Rouget:  Red mullet
Truite: Trout
Saint Jacques (noix de..) : scallops
Sandre:  Sander or pike-perch
Saumon: Salmon
Saumonette: dogfish
Thon: Tuna fish

b) Meat:

(see also methods of serving below)
Agneau: lamb
   Carré d'agneau: rack of lamb
    Navarin d'agneau : lamb hotpot
Biftek haché: hamburger steak
Boeuf: beef
  Boeuf bourguignon: beef casserole in a wine sauce
Canard: duck  
    Magret de canard: duck's breast
Chèvre: goat
Chevreuil: deer
Dinde: turkey
Lapin: rabbit
Oie: goose
Porc: pork
   Filet mignon de porc: pork tenderloin
Poulet: chicken
Sanglier: wild boar
Veau: veal.
    Ris de veau: veal sweetbreads (made from a calf's pancreas)

Methods of serving ...

 ... and describing:
These terms can be applied to various meats, vegetable or fish dishes.

Béchamel: in a white creamy sauce
Beignets: fritters
Côtes de ...  chops
Chasseur: In a rich gravy, with a variety of mushrooms.
En daube: in a stew.
Escalope: filet (veal or turkey)
Farci: stuffed
Fermier: fresh from the farm
Forestière: In a rich wine based sauce, with mushrooms and onions.
Gratin de..  baked in a creamy cheese sauce
Aux Lardons: with chopped bacon
Pané: breaded
Poêlé: pan fried
Provençal: served with herbs and mediterranean vegetables
Rôti: roast

Cooking times for steak:
Saignant: rare
A point: medium
Bien cuit: well cooked.

Potato dishes

Aligot : creamed potatoes with cheese mixed in
Pommes de terre en robe des champs : potatoes in their jackets
Tartiflette : A potato gratinee  with onions and melted cheese

Desserts and cheese:

Beignets de ...: fritters of ...
Coupe .... Generally a fruit and ice-cream or sorbet based dish.
Crème brulée: caramel custard
Flan: custard tart
Fondant au chocolat: warm soft-centered chocolate pudding
Mousse au chocolat: chocolate mousse
Tarte tatin: caramelised apple tart
Tarte aux pommes : apple tart
Plateau de fromages: cheeseboard. See French cheese guide


Fondu savoyard : (Fondu comtois, fondu de fromage) a pot of melted cheese, in which diners twist bits of bread.
Fondu bourguignon: A pot of hot oil, in which diners cook small pieces of tender beef.
Raclette: A tabletop grill, under which diners grill cheese and slices of charcuterie. Served with hot potatoes, gherkins & pickled onions

See also: Understand the menu in Spain


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