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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 13:01 GMT
Paris bids adieu to British restaurant
Fry-up
British fry-ups are not popular in continental Europe
By Paris correspondent Jon Sopel

The food may look delicious, and it certainly smells good.

But the trouble is that Bertie's restaurant has been running on empty for months, only a dwindling band of customers tempted through the door to sample British cooking.

So the hotel chain which owns Paris' only eaterie devoted to British food is shutting its doors - and reopening, serving international cuisine instead.

Roast chicken
Bertie's British food must make way for more international dishes
The restaurant needed to attract 100 customers a day, but was only managing to pull in around 40, said Jean-Paul Lespinasse, the managing-director of the Accor hotel group.

French food writers - always veering towards the dismissive about anything that isn't French cuisine - are not surprised.

This is a country of gourmands they say, and British food - well - it doesn't cut the mustard.

One food critic for the influential Gault and Millaut restaurant and hotel guides says Parisiens are not much interested in eating things like steak and kidney pie or fish and chips.

Best of British

But at the British embassy, where the food is superb, they would beg to differ.

The ambassador's wife, Sylvia Jay, has been such a champion of top British food that when she is not supervising the kitchens at the embassy, she spends her weekdays in London heading the British Food and Drink Federation.

Beer
The British pint is still as popular as ever
She says that, whilst the reputation of British cooking suffered immediately after the war because of rationing, British chefs using British ingredients are among the best in the world.

The other problem that Bertie's restaurant faced was that it simply couldn't attract any British customers - either people living in the city or on holiday in Paris. After all you come to France to eat French food.

The same is not necessarily true of people's tastes in alcohol. British pubs in Paris are doing a roaring trade - a pint and a packet of cheese and onion crisps are as popular as ever.

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01 Feb 01 | Talking Point
Is British cuisine inadequate?
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