The forgotten history of the world’s first restaurant

From the rise of click on and accumulate to the creation of dark kitchens, the very idea of the restaurant is present process main modifications. Even earlier than the pandemic hit, shoppers have been transferring away from the bodily location of the restaurant, a metamorphosis which has solely been accelerated by coronavirus. These new methods of consuming query the very id of the restaurant itself, and invite us to research its origins.

The history of the restaurant is entwined with the history of France, its birthplace.

The phrase restaurant as we perceive it right now was accepted by the Académie Française—the physique that governs the official use of the French language—in 1835. Till then, the “restaurant” additionally referred to as “bouillon restaurant” (restorative broth), was a dish composed of meat, onions, herbs, and greens. A broth with medicinal and digestive properties, its intention was to revive folks’s power.

The time period restaurant due to this fact initially had a medical connotation, and the locations that bought this therapeutic broth in the 1760s have been additionally referred to as “well being homes.”


The first restaurant

The first restaurant as we all know it right now opened in Paris in 1765 on the Rue des Poulies, right now the Rue du Louvre. On the entrance of the store is engraved the Latin phrase from the Bible:

“Venite advert me omnes qui stomacho laboratis, et ego vos restaurabo.”

This interprets as, “Come to me, these whose stomachs ache, and I’ll restore you.”

The proprietor’s title was Mathurin Roze de Chantoiseau. Different writings talked about a sure Mr Boulanger. The institution bought “restauran” dishes equivalent to poultry, eggs, buttered pasta, and semolina muffins, whose mild shade was stated to have well being advantages. It first loved culinary success because of its signature dish of poultry with rooster sauce, which was famend all through Paris.

The thinker Denis Diderot mentions the restaurant as early as 1767 in a letter to his correspondent and lover, Sophie Volland:

“If I’ve acquired a style for the restorer? Actually sure; an infinite style. The service is sweet, a bit costly, however at the time you need . . . . It’s great, and it appears to me that everybody praises it.”

The author Édouard Fournier additionally describes it in his e book Paris démoli: Mosäique de Ruines (Paris Demolished: Mosaic of Ruins), printed in 1853:

“Close by, in the Rue des Poulies, the first Restaurant opened in 1765, which was later transferred to the Hôtel d’Aligre. It was a broth institution, the place it was not allowed to serve stew, as in the catering commerce, however the place poultry with coarse salt and recent eggs have been served with out tablecloths, on small marble tables.”

Roze de Chantoiseau is claimed to be the first to suggest the modern idea of serving meals and not using a mounted schedule, at a person desk and providing a alternative of dishes, the value of which was indicated upfront, on the outdoors of the constructing.

At the moment, in pre-Revolutionary France, the solely place to eat outdoors the residence was in a tavern or inn. However these locations solely supplied tables d’hôtes (visitor tables) with a single dish, at a value that was not mounted upfront, the place folks solely got here at a hard and fast time. The high quality was not at all times good—individuals who went to those locations did so to eat and to not take pleasure in the style of a dish. Roasters and caterers who have been additionally current at the time might solely promote complete items and never particular person parts.


This new manner of consuming was an ideal success, and this style of restaurant spread and evolved. The notion of the pleasure of consuming turned predominant, gastronomy developed and, to a sure extent, turned extra democratic. Earlier than then, the solely individuals who ate very effectively in France have been the members of the courtroom at Versailles and different nobles who had their very own private cooks.

The beginning of the menu

On the eve of the French Revolution, many of the hundred or so eating places in the capital have been very well-known. Prospects got here to those locations to pattern dishes that happy their style buds, not merely to sate their starvation.

The restaurant of the time was an opulent place that might be discovered primarily in the Palais-Royal district of Paris. Right here lived an prosperous, elite clientele succesful of affording meals, which, though now not reserved for aristocrats, have been no inexpensive for it.

The nice novelty of the time was the introduction of the menu. Eating places usually supplied an enormous choice of dishes, so, as historian Rebecca Spang notes, diners have been normally invited to select from a smaller choice of these, displayed on a menu (derived from the Latin minutus).

Extract from the menu at Véry, 1790. [Bibliotheque de la Ville de Paris]

Antoine Beauvilliers, a former officer of the kitchen of the Depend of Provence, brother of the King, was the first personal prepare dinner to depart his grasp and arrange his personal restaurant enterprise in Paris. In 1782, he opened Le Beauvilliers in the Palais-Royal district on Rue de Richelieu.

This very luxurious place rapidly turned an enormous success as a result of it supplied its prospects—primarily aristocrats—the probability to eat as in the event that they have been in Versailles. The setting was magnificent, the service impeccable, the wine cellar very good, and the dishes beautiful and punctiliously introduced on magnificent crockery. For a few years, its delicacies was unmatched in Parisian excessive society. Le Beauvilliers is thus thought-about the first French gastronomic restaurant.

The art of cooking, by Antoine Beauvilliers
The artwork of cooking, by Antoine Beauvilliers.

In the years earlier than and after the French Revolution, many cooks who had beforehand labored for members of the the Aristocracy adopted Beauvilliers’ instance and opened their very own eating places. High quality delicacies primarily based on recipes, rituals, and new methods of consuming moved from the personal kitchens of the aristocracy to the public kitchens of excessive society.

French gastronomic eating places emerged, and well-known and opulent manufacturers equivalent to Véry, Les Trois-Frères Provençaux (which imported brandade de morue and bouillabaisse to Paris from the south), or the restaurant Le Grand Véfour, which remains to be in service, have been created.