Imagine yourself sitting at the Napoleon and Josephine’s favourite table, or in the corner where Simone de Beauvoir would discuss ideas with Jean-Paul Sartre, enjoying the foie gras de canard that was so beloved by Maria Callas, or even, more recently, sitting in a brasserie with the American fiancés Gil and Inez, the characters in Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen, which was presented at last year’s Cannes and is one of this year’s top Oscar contenders.
And you can do all of these things in a single place, located on a Paris rue whose name is already promising (rue du Beaujolais), in one of the city’s chicest restaurants, Le Grand Véfour. This is just one in a long list of addresses worth writing down in that notebook, where true foodies keep the names of places where they want to eat at least once in their lives, possible with their cinephile friends with whom they can muse on famous quotes or the big screen dishes.
This is filmatic tourism, joined with the gourmet world: after all, a restaurant that was even casually chosen as the location for a memorable movie scene, often end up becoming a cult destination. And sometimes, they even deserve to be famous, thanks to the intuition of a talented director, screenplay writer or location scout.
Going to a restaurant as a customer after seeing it on the big screen is a strange and new sensation that rewards your sense of taste, smell, sight and makes you feel special – as if you were starring in your own personal movie.
For example, if Paris happens to be too far, try heading to Canada and making a visit to the favourite haunts of Barney Panofsky, the leading character of the wonderful novel and movie, Barney’s Version. . In Montreal, there are entire itineraries dedicated to eating and drinking in the same places as Barney and his father (played onscreen by Paul Giamattiand Dustin Hoffman). And if you only have time for one location, it should be a dinner at Le Mas Des Oliviers, with a menu featuring specialites from the South of France, featuring both meat and fish, soups, and a great selection of wines and cheeses. Because Montreal was the truly the beloved city of both the character of Barney, and his creator, the writer Mordecai Richler.
For everyday lunches and quick snacks, pay a visit to this historic, always-bustling eatery with its formica tables and kosher meats. Try the world-famous pastrami sandwich - that you can see in the picture at the top - at Schwartz’s and take a satisfying trip into the atmosphere of the 1950’s, which already had a retro appeal even for Barney.
A trip to the Old Continent could include a hefty portion of Greek moussakaserved in the tavern that was made famous from one of the most interesting independent, foodie-themed films from the recent years: Soul Kitchen, whose title comes from the cinematic name of the Greek restaurant owned by Zinos, the young protagonist who hires an ingenious chef who has his own particular way of dealing with the customers. To try the atmosphere and recipes from the Soul Kitchen movie for yourself, pay a visit to Sotiri, in the centre of Hamburg, whose owner is a friend of the director. Order a glass of ouzo and a plate of spinach with a goat cheese sauce and take a look around, as the film was entirely shot inside of the restaurant.
But it’s the city of New York that seems to be the true big screen inspiration when it comes to bars and restaurants. Food, along with fashion and design, played a huge part of Sex and the City, whose addresses make up a tour guide in and of itself. One not-to-miss place is Brasserie 8 ½, with its French cuisine, the spectacular staircase, Henri Matisse artwork on the walls and the memory of Carrie modelling for Dolce&Gabbana. Or else there’s the Italian restaurant in Times Square, Da Marino, where Mr. Big declared his everlasting love, or else make a stop atThe Modern, within the Museum of Modern Art, where Carrie finally told her friends about her long-desired engagement with Mr. Big.
Of course, the golden crown of New York restaurant scenes has to go to the world’s most famous faked orgasm by Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. The café in which the scene was shot still exists: it’s called Katz’s Deli, which has been serving sandwiches and quick meals since 1800 also features a single sign that tells customers when they are sitting at “that” table. When it comes to New York’s Little Italy neighborhood, there have been a plethora of scenes shot right on Mulberry Street, especially at the hundred year-old Mulberry Street Bar where scenes were shot from the film Donnie Brasco, The Godfather Part III, 9 ½ Weeks and The Sopranos.