There’s a rather good French restaurant in London called Brasserie Zédel – if you’ve never been it’s worth popping in for a quick look at the restaurant which is in the basement. Brasserie Zédel was once part of the Regent Palace Hotel, built by T. Lyons & Co. and designed in the Beaux Arts style by Messrs. Henry Tanner, F.R.I.B.A, F.J. Wills and W.J. Ancell. It opened on Wednesday, May 16, 1915; the largest hotel in Europe at the time, with 1,028 bedrooms. According to Architecture Today Magazine, the interiors are ‘probably the best and most authentic series of 1930s interiors in this country’.

The menus are in French.

And herein lies the rub. If you can’t understand this very French, very simple menu you just might find yourself inadvertently ordering something which, when it arrives, you find a little, shall we say, discombobulating. For example, the Andouillette sausage. Of course, a hot sausage (la saucisse) to many British palates sounds a wonderful thing. But this one, as restaurant critic Jay Rayner once memorably described, ‘Smells like a farmyard. Before anybody has bothered to come along and clean it’. It is an acquired taste. Now that’s okay in Zédel, because the waiters are knowledgeable and kind and, for those with little or no French language skills, will provide you with an English version of the menu and gracefully guide you around its pitfalls.

If you’re in France though in a small town or village, the chances of an English speaking waiter and/or an English menu are less likely. Very much less likely, so that Andouillette could be yours. Or perhaps something else equally less than lovely.

Avoid the menu traps and come to la Academia – we offer crash and beginners’ courses in virtually every language you can think of so that you can choose confidently from those menus. Email and find out how you too can become a gourmet abroad – or even in London.