America’s Independence Day is a fine holiday, if you like burgers with a side of patriotism. But nothing stirs the cash register for American restaurants like that fine national holiday of France, which is celebrated on Thursday: Bastille Day.
Across the country, French restaurants as well as restaurants that serve anything vaguely inspired by France, are hosting Bastille Day promotions, special dinners and festivals that, in many cases, far surpass what was done for July 4, when Americans tend to favor their own back yard grills.
It helps that celebrating France generally means eating and drinking well. And what could be more fun than a revolution?
As a result, Bastille Day is being embraced by the French and non-French alike.
Zpizza, for example, a 90-unit chain based in Irvine, Calif., is by no means is a French concept. Still, the chain has long offered a Provençal pizza made with roasted garlic sauce, fresh mozzarella, capers, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and fresh basil.
In part to remind guests of the unique flavor profile, free samples of the Provençal pizza will be available on Thursday.
“It is kind of funny that we didn’t do a promotion for July 4, but here we are doing it for Bastille Day,” said Brandi Babb, Zpizza’s vice president for training and franchise relations. “July 4 is a backyard or a beach holiday for us, it’s all about bonfires and barbecues.
“But Bastille Day falls on kind of a quiet week. There’s nothing really going on, except the women’s World Cup soccer,” she said. “It gives us an opportunity to reach out to guests.”
Some concepts are using the French holiday to remind guests of their gallic roots.
Mimi’s Café, for example, is a French-inspired casual-dining chain based in Irvine, Calif., but owned by Bob Evans Farms Inc. The 145-unit chain is kicking off a new menu Thursday — and a chance to win a trip to France by liking Mimi’s Facebook page. The menu includes new chocolate mousse muffins, which will be offered for free with purchase and valid coupon — available at www.mimiscafe.com — in honor of Bastille Day.
Mimi’s is launching a series of regional menus, the first of which is the Tour de Provence, including dishes such as cinnamon brioche French toast, Le Grand Bleu burger, chicken Provence and Provençal glazed shrimp and asparagus ravioli.
Breakfast entrées range in price from $3.99 to $8.99. The two-course lunch menu is $10.99 and a three-course dinner is $13.99.
France, of course, also is known for wine, offering opportunity to promote the fruit of the grape.
Pierre Loti Wine Bar, with three units in New York, for example, is cutting the price on any bottle or glass of French wine by 25 percent for Bastille Day.
At La Cachette in Santa Monica, Calif., the focus is on crêpes.
Guest chef Pierre-Loic Denichou from Brittany — who has been making crêpes as a Wednesday night special through the summer — is making traditional crêpes to order for dinner on Thursday. La Cachette also is featuring a special oyster bar, as well as the regular menu.
Many French restaurants are offering prix-fixe dinners on Thursday.
Fig & Olive, the New York-based chain that recently opened in Los Angeles, is offering a two-course prix fixe dinner for $50 per person, including the concept’s signature fig and gorgonzola tartlet with prosciutto, walnuts, tomato and arugula on a puff pastry, along with striped bass papillote with zucchini, eggplant, fennel, tomato, thyme, scallions and saffron and served with Arbequina olive oil and chive mashed potatoes.
Jacques in New York, however, is planning more of a festival with a whole-roasted pig, corn on the cob and mashed potatoes, along with an amuse-bouche cocktail for $17.89 — the year of the French revolution.
Downstairs at the bar 1534, the party continues with absinthe as a sponsor, featuring burlesque performances promising to “shake up the nouvelle vague,” along with anise liqueur popsicles, absinthe fountains and a green fairy, according to press materials. Guests must wear a mustache or red lipstick to enter.
Ooh la la.
Too risqué? In SoHo, Barolo Ristorante is hosting a petanque tournament, from noon to 6 p.m., with a French menu for the occasion.
Petanque is similar to bocce ball of Italy. The tournament will consist of 24 teams from the restaurant industry, including one representing Barolo Ristorante.
In Boston, a festival in Harvard Square is free on July 17 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. including Sandrine’s Bistro, where chef-owner Raymond Ost, who is originally from Strasbourg, will be grilling Alsatian sausages on the grill.
Sandrine’s will offer a $25 three-course menu on Thursday and Sunday, but the festival on Sunday will also feature dancing, a traditional waiter’s race, local artisans and an international beer garden.