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French restaurant where the waiters speak French?

Here's an off the wall question: My daughter--a 7th grader in Berkeley--is looking for a French restaurant where the waiters speak French. Her French class is studying food words and is interested in going to a restaurant to try them out. So she needs French speaking waiters/servers and a place that's willing to handle a substantial number of middle schoolers. Berkeley or East Bay would be best, but San Francisco would be possible. Thoughts?

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  1. How about contacting La Folie and see if they could arrange something for them? The regular waiters don't speak french (at least I don't remember that they do), but the sommelier and ? his wife (hostess) do and it wouldn't hurt to explain the situation and see if they'd do something special for the young ones - maybe a special lunch (when they are normally closed).

    3 Replies
    1. re: estnet

      La Folie is one of the most expensive restaurants in town. How about Chapeau/Clementine? Or Cafe Claude? I haven't been for a while, but Fringale used to have French waiters.

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      Chapeau!
      126 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

      Clementine Restaurant
      126 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

      Cafe Claude
      7 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

      Fringale Restaurant
      570 4th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Yes La Folie is expensive but I was suggesting a one off the menu experience (eg a special lunch) which perhaps could be done at a more reasonable price... or maybe not but it wouldn't hurt to ask.

        I think the problem is to find french speaking wait staff - I recently ate at Chapeau (and unfortunately wasn't too impressed with the food but that is another story) - and while the owners speak french it was not clear that the wait staff do. Not a surprise given the economics of being a waiter vs other jobs one could get being bilingual--- but I was thinking that the trick might be to find an owner who would think it was fun to do something like this for the kids and maybe not charge too much.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I was just at Fringale the other night and had a good meal. The waiters were speaking French to each other and some ex-pats seated at the bar. I tried the asian pear and apple salad, the crab napoleon (very fresh crab), the moules frites (yummy), and the seafood basquaise. The service was on top of it without being overbearing. It was what we were looking for. Our table also loved the French onion soup, but I didn't get to try it (it looked great though). Prices are reasonable w/ entrees ranging from $17-mid twenties at dinner.

          You could also try Chez Papa/Maman in Potrero.

      2. I haven't been there, but from rworange's report, I think the people at Cafe Saint Honore in Albany speak French. It's not expensive and in the East Bay, so it may be worth considering. Also, the rather attractive waiters at Plouf in Belden Place in SF are French, I believe.

        1. L'Petit Laurent might meet your requirements, with good food to boot. If price is a consideration, check out their neighborhood menu.

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          Le P'tit Laurent
          699 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131

          1 Reply
          1. re: intomeat

            yes, servers I've had at L'Petit Laurent definitely speak French, and in fact I think they prefer it if given a choice, so it is an excellent choice in that regard. However, unfortunately they are quite small and I don't think they could handle a group of any size. Might be worth a call though. One advantage: they are very easy to get to from BART, just across the street from the Glen Park Station.

          2. Chouchou

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            Chouchou
            400 Dewey Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94116

            1. L'Ardoise in the Duboce Triangle area of SF, neat the F-Line (Noe) and a metro stop (N-Judah). Also Le Garage in Sausalito, perhaps? LeGarage serves lunch. It's on the waterfront near the Bay Model.

              1. I have eaten at Clementine on multiple occasions since the first of the year. I believe most if not all of the wait staff there speak French.

                1. Cote Sud in the Castro. Very cute little place, decent prices and great food. All of the servers there speak French. Bon Appetit! 4238 18th St, San Francisco, CA -
                  (415) 255-6565

                  1. You might also want to look into Chevalier in Lafayette, where many (if not all of) of the staff speak French. I have only been there once but the food was well done and very traditional French. They are on the web.

                    1. Café Bastille. Probably no problem handling a big group of kids for a late lunch or early dinner. Inexpensive, not far from BART.

                      http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/laur...

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                      Cafe Bastille
                      22 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Also next door at Plouf, though beyond "moules" there aren't many food words needed there.

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                        Plouf
                        40 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

                      2. Don't know about the size you'll need. Pretty sure everybody at Restaurant Jeanne d'Arc speaks French. It's at 715 Bush, pretty close to Union Square.

                        1. Basque Cultural Center in South San Francisco. Super old school in a banquet type room. Really solid traditional french homestyle dishes, relativly inexpensive for what you get (all entrees come with soup, salad, entree), unpretentious, shitty wine list (but hardly marked up), inexpensive corkage. I get the Magret, Duck Confit with frites, or Lamb.

                          1. I used to have an irascible French speaking waiter at South Park Cafe. It had a relaxed atmosphere when I was there last and I would think it tween-friendly. This waiter goodnaturely tapped my aunt on the head with a menu when she asked too many questions about Lillet.