The restaurant as we know it today was developed at the end of the Ancien Regime, ironically, for those who considered themselves too sensitive to digest normal food and could only drink a “restoring” broth.
When the Revolution of 1789 drove aristocrats into exile, their chefs survived by opening up eating houses where this delicate elite could exhibit its superiority in the theatre of public dining. By the end of the 19th century Paris was filled with every type of dining experience from bistrot to brasserie where art, literature, politics, espionage and prostitution thrived.
SYLVIA SAGONA is an internationally recognised specialist on 19th century French society. She retired from the French Department at The University of Melbourne to work on historical documentaries for French and Australian television and is currently researching a book on the invention of the restaurant in Paris in the 18th century.
interior of Le Grand Véfour, Paris