an englishman eats american food in paris

April 5th, 2011 / by / in: travel / 1 Response

I don’t usually do restaurant reviews, but one of my favourite people asked about doing a restaurant review as a guest post. He lives in Cambridge, England, but was in Paris recently. Here is his review of Katz’s Diner. It’s funny (to me) because he’s a non-American eating American food in a non-American city.


Katz’s Diner, the “American diner in Paris,” is located in the 5th arr., on rue Mouffetard. I was staying close by for a conference and every evening Hampton and I would walk past on our way to other, more French, cuisine. On my last night there, sans Hampton, I decided to give it a go. After all, I’ve had a fair amount of French food in the US — I wondered how the French would do US food.

From the outside and the inside, it looked pretty much like any diner or fast food place. I felt very self-conscious going in, and only then realised why Hampton didn’t want to go in. Everyone else in the restaurant was French (aside from the chefs, who I watched prepare all the meals, who were speaking Hindi as far as I could tell). I hoped they didn’t think I was American, that I came all the way to France to eat some good ol’ American grub. I wanted to wear a sign saying “I’m doing this for the kitsch value! Honest!” (Except in French, of course.)

The menu was weird. Lots of pictures of American “things” (Statue of Liberty, Marilyn Monroe) with red lips. The menu also had a dubious claim: “Healthy burgers, healthy living!”.

Anyway, I glanced at the beer selection and saw the usual American suspects, but with the inclusion of Desperados, the Tequila flavoured beer. At first, I believed this to be an American beer, but only later found out it is actually French! Strange.

(That’s about what I expect from an American diner.) I ended up choosing a pint of Heineken for €3. Happy hours in Paris are insane.

To start, I got buffalo wings and onion rings. They were both pretty decent and definitely reminded me of food I’ve had in the US before. The dip for the wings was particularly good – some kind of creamy roquefort thing.

I polished both of them off pretty rapidly. (I took a regular picture of my leftovers, but they looked kinda gross. To the rescue, Hipstamatic!)

Next, I got an avocado burger, which was pretty tasty. The meat was cooked just enough. (Despite being all-American, there were a lot of signs saying how their beef is “100% French”…) The bun, however, sucked. It was too dry and fell apart as I was eating the burger. Not good. The fries weren’t particularly good either.

Oh, and they used cheese slices! Urgh. As much as I appreciate the desire to be as American as possible, COME ON. This is the last thing I expect in France.

For dessert, I got an Oreo cupcake. It looked pretty:

But tasted awful. So dense and chewy. It was possibly the worst dessert I’ve ever had in Paris. Stick to the macarons, guys.

So, in conclusion… Katz’s Diner was pretty authentic. Plastic cheese, Bud on tap, buffalo wings. But it missed the mark in quite a few ways. I guess I was expecting it to be all the good bits of the US, with some French additions (proper cheese, decent bread) to make it amazing. Ah well.


3, rue Mouffetard 75005, Paris

01 46 33 59 92

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