French Fridays: A Table in Paris

Cover of John Donohue's A Table in Paris.

“A visual exploration of the Paris dining scene, with stories, guides, and recommendations from everyday patrons and famous aficionados alike”. This is how John Donohue’s latest book was described in an email from the publisher – how could I NOT want a review copy?

From the publisher:

Paris is a city like no other, beloved by travelers the world over for its incomparable architecture, atmosphere, arts, and, of course, food. The restaurants of Paris are rich with history, culture, and flavor. Whether you’re a frequent visitor to the City of Light with memories of your favorite meals or an armchair traveler dreaming of the cuisine you could discover there, A Table in Paris will take you on a delicious visual journey through the arrondissements that you’ll never forget. In his signature loose and evocative style, artist John Donohue has rendered an incredible sampling of the iconic institutions, hidden gems, and everything in between that make the Paris dining scene one of a kind.

Guided by recommendations from a breadth of locals, visitors, and experts, you’ll discover the places one must visit and the dishes one must sample in pursuit of the perfect Parisian meal. The book also offers space for your Paris dining bucket list, food memories or dreams from each arrondissement, and notes on the establishments featured. Restaurants hold a powerful place in our hearts, and A Table in Paris is a must-have for anyone with epicurean visions of Paris in theirs.

This is an absolutely enchanting book and will draw you in, even if you’re not planning a trip to Paris anytime soon (because, let’s face it, most of us aren’t/ can’t). I love an illustrated book and this is no exception. Donohue tells us he works in ink, without corrections (adding colour later) and that each illustration takes about 20 minutes to complete. They capture a moment in time with the objective of  capturing “something essential and ineffable about a place, letting the viewer’s mind fill in the details from a memorable trip or, per- haps, whetting an appetite for a future feast.” So, how did he choose which restaurants to include in this unique “guide”?

When planning this book, Donohue, a frequent visitor to Paris, reached out to “people who know and love the city, including chefs, restaurant owners, food writers, journalists who live there, and world travelers”, looking for recommendations for places to eat. Though there are a LOT of guides to where to eat in Paris, unsurprisingly, Donohue found personal recommendations are where it’s at to find the true hidden gems. As he puts it, “one of the best meals I ate on my trip was at a small place, Quinsou, that has yet to really register on travel websites or make its way into guidebooks. I learned about it from the waitstaff at two well-respected and delicious restaurants—Clown Bar and Verjus.”

What he ended up with is an eclectic list of places to eat (restaurants but also bakeries), roughly organised by area, some with an illustration and reviews ranging from one liners (i.e. of Le Relais de Venise l’Entrecôte, he simply writes “The original place for steak frites, special sauce, and nothing else, not even a menu (and don’t even think of asking for ketchup).”) to anecdotes from either Donohue himself or well known names in the food world (in Paris and elsewhere) like Ruth Reichl, Lindsey Tramuta, Alec Lobrano, Melissa Clark, Oliver Gee and more…

The book includes:

  1. Tips for dining in Paris (yes, mostly you’ll need a reservation)
  2. An explanation of the different types of restaurants and what to expect (do you know the difference between a Bistro and a Brasserie?)
  3. An important disclaimer: “It takes a special magic to run a successful restaurant. Under the best of circumstances that spell only lasts so long. Given the changes in the world since my visit in 2019, a few of these places may have closed, but they will forever remain enchanting.”
  4. An alphabetical list of the restaurants
  5. A map of the arrondissements
  6. SO MUCH inspiration for your next trip!

If all you can do is dream about travel right now, this is a great option. If you’re a food lover, on your next trip to Paris, this could feasibly be your ONLY guide book.


Cover of John Donohue's A Table in Paris.Buy “A Table in Paris” for yourself!

You can find A Table in Paris on Amazon (this link should bring you to the Amazon store geographically closest to you). Or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository.


Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. This post also contains affiliate links for The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!


Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of A Table in Paris’ from the publisher for review purposes. I was not asked to write about this book, not am I being compensated for this post. All opinions are my pwn and I only share products/ books I truly love and think readers will be interested in.


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