SPOTTED DICK, S'IL VOUS PLAIT by Tom Higgins

SPOTTED DICK, S'IL VOUS PLAIT

An English Restaurant in France
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A light, likeable look at a British couple's successful attempt to establish an English restaurant in Lyons. After a dinner-party guest compliments the author and his wife on their tasty meat loaf in pastry, the two are inspired to follow their hearts, chuck their jobs (as translator and doctor, respectively), and open a restaurant. They move to France and assume the unenviable task of making English cuisine (considered by many to be an oxymoron) palatable to perhaps the country's most discriminating palates--those of the Lyonnais. Adopting the good- natured attitude and rueful wit of a man whose idea is largely regarded as a bad joke, Higgins encounters stubborn bank officials, skeptical neighbors, endless bureaucracy, great expense, and even rats. His wife and principal chef, Sue, speaks little French, and they have a one-year-old child, an out-of-the-way location, and no idea what the menu will feature less than a week before their grand opening. But within three short months, Mr. Higgins (as the restaurant is named) is up and running. The oddity of the only English restaurant in a French ``gastocracy'' begins to lure crowds of curious diners. The English breakfasts on weekends are a smash, and their hillside location becomes increasingly popular as the neighborhood is yuppified. After eight years, Higgins concludes, ``So far, I seem to be relatively charmed''--and so is the reader, or at least pleasantly entertained, though once it's apparent the restaurant will thrive, the narrative is at times reduced to observations about the price of local produce, the occasional troublesome customer, and disagreeable neighbors. (By the way, one off the dozen recipes included does reveal that ``spotted dick'' is a traditional English pudding.) Overall, a whimsical and unlikely success story.

Pub Date: May 11th, 1995
ISBN: 1-56947-032-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995




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