Love this place, if for nothing else than their bread. Their baguette is BY FAR the best in the city (yes, I've tried the others). Sure, it's not perfect, but this is Kunming, not Paris or New York.
The service isn't always great, but 99% of restaurants in Kunming have service that Westerners wouldn't like. I've been coming here for years and always been happy. If you notice your food taking too long, walk 10 feet to the bar and ask about it. This has worked for me LITERALLY every time.
Not everyone likes their coffee, but I'm quite partial to their Americano and have been drinking it regularly for ages.
Yeah, some of their sandwiches leave a little to be desired (e.g. the coldcuts are crap, but that's all that seems to exist in Kunming.). The grilled cheese is pretty good *for China* though.
We went there to have a beer and snack during the day and it was quite a calm and relaxed place
The beers were good, but the beef sandwich could do with a bit more filling. It mostly tasted like bread.
It would also be nicer if the waitresses smiled a bit more
Very nice place, when I was living in Kunming in 2010 I went there almost every day.
About the people: Nice landlords and staff. I really dont understand how some people had problems with them. I had really nice time here, playing chinese chess with chinese friends I made there.
About the food: good enough, very nice cakes,breads and croissant (all made byt the landlords)
About the coffee: Maybe not the best, but it absolutely worht it
About the smoke: Chineses smoke EVERYWHERE, so get use to it.
I put 4 stars because nobody can be perfect ;)
I don't understand why some people are so harsh with French Cafe.
I go there from time to time, and I've always been served correctly.
Everytime I say hello when I'm coming in, and talk friendly with fu wu yuan,even with the landlord lady.
No problem to mention. The food is good,and prices correct.
About smoke, I'm a non smoker, but I know where I put my feet, and I'm not complaining about. If anyone does'nt like, there are enough places around available.
There are few places in the area which,in my point of view, are completely overrated. But it seems polically incorrect to criticize some of them.
I wrote this place off more than a year ago. One a whim I went back last week. The food was good and came out quickly. Yes the waitresses seem a bit grumpy, but they aren't there to keep me company. Three stars for my meal and an extra for their brown bread, which is always excellent.
Personally, I don't think it's out of line to boycott a place for having an unfriendly policy. If there are obviously seats to spare, please don't ask a friend to leave because they have already had lunch. I like company when I eat, and in fact I do enjoy the food at French Cafe, but it just seemed unnecessarily rude, or at the very least unreasonable. Now neither I nor my friend are as likely to return. You can only make so many "anti-customers" before they swing their groups to go elsewhere! Not an injustice, just an inconvenience. Reason enough not to go somewhere in the CUSTOMER SERVICE industry. Too bad though, I have enjoyed a lot of time reading and chatting there; just one experience ruined it.
Aside from the heavy smell of smoke inside while we were trying to eat, it's OK. It would be great if people could smoke outside though, it really ruins a meal.
Both the price and the food are pretty average. I would say the potato chips are one of the best in Kunming. They're nice and thick- real chips!
Drinks are very small, and the hamburgers don't really fill you up though. I still believe the Samoana Cafe is the best place for a burger in the whole of Kunming.
The cakes look delicious there. Overall, it's not bad, but could be better. I'd prefer to eat where there's fresh air, however.
Great pizza and good baguettes and sallads in a nice milieu; the only big minus is the ridiculous pricing of the coke zero. Why, god why, is it 4 kuai more expensive than regular coke, when it's priced exactly the same in every other place in town? Not okay.
Another small drawback is the stone floor on the ground floor, which gives an off-putting, sterile feeling to the place.
Actually I usually go vintage cafe and french cafe, coffee break on this wenlin street, I dont want give any reviews about their food, cause I dont go for good, Just a break and relax time. Obviously vintage cafe is much more better,the gentleman nice,the boss nice,everyone work there very nice and polite, I use their adaptor for my computer if my battery is dead, But the weak is they allow somking after 8pm at night. Waitress in french cafe have no trained at all, even the basic skills. Maybe they are whole in a low level, go there just for the air better than vintage cafe in the evening.
Used to like this place. Still drop in when it is not too busy, since anything over six customers seems to overwhelm the staff.
Main issues is with service. Food is passable not bad for Kunming, but:
> on a day when my wife and I had to kill some time we went in (maybe two other tables had people) and I ordered a coke. The girl said we both have to order some thing. What the hell kind of policy is that? A French one? I have known French people in China and they all seem nice, but if this comes from the owner it is unacceptable. Seems like a joint policy between money grudging Chinese staff and there French master. We left and my wife has never been back except for the following time.
>Another time saw a Korean friend there. They were waiting on a friend and we sat for a moment with them. My wife made her only other visit to the place since the above debacle.
The waitress looks fidgety and nervous but I had no intention of ordering anything and was just saying hi to my friend, who had not yet ordered either. After a few minutes our friend get a call and the friend she is waiting for is lost. She is going to leave and go find her, the plan being to come back, but the waitress demands five rmb from each of us for sitting there. Right. We all let and they have not been back while I have dropped in now and then.
I have other examples of their rude service but those sum it up best.
That sort of behavior is pathetic and embarrassing. Any people here praise the place but I am telling to you proceed with caution.
Quiet atmosphere, Chinese+foreign public with a few familiar faces going there often. Decent food and great bread. Same staff over the years, giving the place a sense of continuity. Don't know whether they'll be able to keep the place going much longer, with relatively low prices in a context where prices rise ridiculously (including rents!) Enjoy it while it's there...
I LOVE the french cafe. Seriously, I am so tired of people blasting this place. How lazy and entitled are all of you? You know why I have always gotten good service at the French Cafe? When I need something, I use my feet to walk to the counter and ask nicely. Then—magically—it shows up on my table minutes later. Or, better yet, wait until the waitress walks by, wave your hand and ask nicely for that cup of water or coffee refill when she comes by. Stop behaving like arrogant children at Applebee's and maybe you will get decent service. I'm sorry that your lives are so difficult that you have to deal with the indignity of waiting for a few minutes to get your coffee. So, if you don't like it there, go somewhere else. Go find a real injustice in the world to boycott, rather than griping about the ONLY PLACE in the area that makes good French bread.
Good food and atmosphere. Sometimes takes a while to order, but all you need to do is shout Nihao! Fuyuan! And a waitress will come. Or you could just order at the bar or on the stairs, which is what I sometimes do.
Hate the stale cigarette smoke upstairs though, which is where i always sit because of the comfy sofas; that stuff makes my clothes smell almost as bad as a night out at Kundu, but anyway, this being China and especially Yunnan, means it might take a while before non-smoking restaurants become the norm.
Otherwise, the food is quite good though.
Had the same treatment as DanTheMan, came there to share a baguette with another person and both got kicked out in spite of the place was mostly empty, as far as I know it's the only place in km who has this kind of policy.
I guess management doesn't care because new random faces will often go there anyway, myself If I fancy western food I will head to Prague Cafe where quality and service are top.
Kicking out polite, quiet, elderly beggar (instead of just letting her make her rounds for 5 minutes and then letting her leave)= O stars
A few very nice and admittedly lazy servers = 5 stars.
At times nasty approach to customers by the other servers =0 stars.
Bad to mediocre food and drink =
Some decently priced items =3 stars.
Good bread =4 stars.
Everyone must order something no matter what, even if its not crowded, gets 0 stars.
Getting rid of notice board gets 0 stars.
Room for improvement.
I'm a frequent lunchtime customer and have spent a lot of money at French Café over the years and generally had good experiences.
So I was dismayed when I was denied service there a few days ago because I wanted to split one dish with another person and didn't want to order anything else. Apparently there is a rule that every customer has to order at least one item, even though I believe it would have been possible for each of us to order the cheapest item on the menu and still spent less money than we were trying to spend on our fruit salad with yogurt (17 kuai).
I pointed out to the waitress – whom I recognized and who I suspected recognized me – that I was a frequent customer and that we'd only be a few minutes. But she just kept on going on about how her laoban wouldn't allow it. So we left the half empty cafe without spending any money... and I don't suspect I'll be back to spend more anytime soon.
Mixed experiences with food but overall ok... nothing to write home about..... but 15 kuai for a can of pop (coke zero), reasonably uncomfortable seats upstairs in a congested smoke filled environment along with indifferent service on more than one occasion makes it very hard to choose this place...
My girlfriend and I went here for a lunch. The atmospfere is really cool, relaxed,the cafe provides cheap beers and has a good selection of coffees. The food is not so good though, the bread they used for the croque monsieur and sandwiches was old, and not all the right ingredients were on the sandwich. Furthermore the croque mosieur took very long to be made. Overall not too bad but, stay away from the food.
indifference and apathy of which you typify,
your loud hijinx and mindless chatter,
only the purest, most refined idiocy,
drilling into my brutally hungover mind.
Will you serve me? Will you not?
Alas, you finally do!
Then I wait... And I wait...
Purgatory! My bowels scream for compassion, but, no, zounds!
Insipid sandwich, could you satisfy anyone's soul?
Mr. Salad, could I have made you myself for a tenth of your cost?
Odd coffee, were thou brewed by one of sound mind?
But oh! Glorious bread!
Bread one can toast! Bread from which a fine sandwich could formed!
The bread a gentleman deserves.
in my opinion best bread and sandwiches in town. waitresses seem to be a little confused from time to time, but usually friendly.
Sadly sometimes stories like this happen: ordered a salad with egg. got one with tuna. gave it back. got the same salad again only with egg. still some tuna pieces to find in it. Wouldnt bother most people, but im vegetarian;-)
A little little better service and I would happily give them their 5th star!
The Cream Cheese is delicious!
Not too bad place with really nice atmosphere. The staff aren't overly helpful but I find to be helpful enough clearing tables when full and taking orders efficiently. A guitar is available, a good selection of books and some games if you want to whittle away some time! The food is pretty good I thought, particularly anything with bread. Have only had 1 bad experience after about 10 visits - a half full and half cold "hot chocolate"... hmmm...
The current rating doesn't really reflect the place I think - it always seems to be fairly full. People keep coming back for the atmosphere I guess, the coffee and bread.
Dreadful service and RUDE WAITRESSES last night. Took us 20 minutes just to order the food. Slow and poor service probably was due to the fact it was one of the few places still open before Chinese New Year and the place was a little packed. But still, no excuse. If you can't handle it then you shouldn't be in this business.
Sorry but I have lived in Kunming for now over 6 years and sadly the French Cafe has the worst coffee makers. The service is terrible and slow, that is when the girls are not talking to each other or on their mobiles.
I feel that the top review was correct in saying that the Chinese woman manager is so dam rude and does nothing... so I would personally say aviod this place and take a short walk to the Prauge Cafe were the service is so improved and the food really does taste excellent!!!! Their coffees are so much nicer than the french cafe also. live love and enjoy food.. cheers
This is a bit of an update from my previous review three years ago. I still enjoy coming here more than any other place in the area, and find it to be far quieter and much more relaxing than other places nearby.
I'm still going to complain about the service. This is the ONE thing that they still haven't managed to do correctly or consistently. It's not so much the girls working there...most of them do a good job and even smile from time to time. My main complaint lies with the incredibly rude "manager," a rather rotund, homely looking Chinese woman.
When I ask for an order of fries at 10:30 PM for my friends and I who've been buying drinks for the past three hours, I'd appreciate not getting a irritated smirk back. Don't feign looking towards the kitchen like it's such a chore you'd rather not bother. In fact, I had to ask her twice. The second time I said, "Can they be made?" to which I simply received a nod. No smile, no nothing.
Get rid of this woman and the place would improve and be even better than it already is. It's not the first time she's been rude or dismissive to us and we consider ourselves to be "regulars." She's a mass of pestilence that's ruining an otherwise great place here in downtown Kunming.
The food that I tried here was really delicious--nice crusty bread with a generous cupful of cream cheese, thoughtfully served with tomato and cucumber slices for a reasonable price. We didn't have any problems with the service the two times we visited, but I wasn't as impressed by the chai. The tarts are also ridiculously delicious but perhaps too pricey to eat; sidewalk seating is a nice touch.
Still the best street cafe on Wenlinjie. Some dishes are superb, most dishes nice to average, the only dishes that break that consistency are the so la la soups. Good hot and cold drinks and some nice authentic French menu items you can't find anywhere else in town make it an outstanding place. I would give it five out of five it they wouldn't have doubled the prices in the the last years and kicked out that PC to check your mail. But the price hike is also due the increasing rent and commercialisation of the whole uni-area. Still I love to hang out outside and drink my hot chocolate everytime I'm in KMG. Keep up the good work and think about franchising in other cities further north:)
Since no one has mentioned the desserts....they're awesome!
Everyone else is correct about problems with the service, etc. but the desserts are great and can be purchased at the restaurant on WenLin Jie or from a little dessert case next to Paul's on the other side of WenHua Xiang.
My favorite is the strawberry tart, but the lemon tart, the chocolate tart and the éclairs are all quite good.
Update: Recently I have tried several of the French Cafe's sandwiches. They have all been pretty good and they have quite a few to choose from. Probably the best sandwiches around the Wenlin area, in my opinion. The sandwiches are a better bet than the salads.
One of the reason I go to the French Cafe is for the Yunnan Coffee and the Cheeseburgers - the latter of which I think are the best in Kunming. The french fries are also pretty excellent! But then again, the staff and the owners are quite nice too.
I have made it a habit to order at the bar when I enter most of the cafes on WenLinJie. Otherwise, I just take it for granted that one will have to wait.
I really think that the French Cafe should definitely get rid of their WiFi (aka Why fry?) system though - since it can make people irritable. Recently, though, I have been getting better service there and the staff seems to be making an effort to be more friendly. Too much exposure to EMR (from cell phones and WiFi) can make people listless and irritable. Moreover, it is well-known - in some circles - that this is indeed most likely the cause of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) so for those who want to study in a WiFi cafe, you might actually be defeating the purpose of studying - since it can affect concentration and memory.
I like the French Cafe, but I am annoyed by people who lack consideration of those around them by frying the brains of those nearby them with their microwaves transceivers (i.e. cell phones) or by smoking. :(
The first cafe to make their establishment non-smoking on Wen Lin Jie will definitely attrack a nich-market of non-smoking customers. Many foreigners (and some Chinese) are extremely annoyed by this habit and often will get up and leave when someone near them starts smoking.
Often too, are people who come into one of these cafes to only order a cheap drink so that they can surf the Internet for hours. I don't see it really being profitable for the businesses to offer this "service" to attract customers - who in actuality are not there to eat, but rather to use the WiFi.
I heard that Lan Bai Hong had some crap staff, but they must have gotten rid of them, because I have had only good service. True, they're just plain old Yunnan nongmin and not college girls trolling for expat boyfriends, and they don't speak English or French, but they get the job done!
I must agree with previous reviewers that burgers and fries are excellent, as is coffee, WiFi connection and overall fengshui. Surprisingly good books in their library. A few too many French poseurs for my taste, but that's a hazard of life in Kunming!
Yes, service isn't good, but it's probably the only place in Kunming to get a (usually) decent (meat!) burger and great fries. Also good are the strawberry tarts (in season) with a milk coffee. Interesting to notice the division of clientele between FC and Salvador with very little crossover.
i don't know what those guys are on about. i came to kunming and a lot of people suggested that i go to french cafe, so i went. i thought it has a nice atmosphere- like a real cafe. the music was good and i felt that i could relax there for a while. the food is like proper western food, the cakes are great and i like the fact that you don't have the fussyness of a restaraunt. it's also the only place in China where i've found proper long island ice teas. i'd certainly go back.
While it has a certain chic, French Cafe is dragged down by its painfully inattentive staff and uneven food offerings.
It can't be overstated just how genuinely poor the service is at French Cafe.
I stopped by this afternoon hoping to be proven wrong on this point.
I found a table outside (in view of the bar) at 3:08pm.
Sure enough, nearly a half-hour passed (at 3:34) before I saw a menu.
It was another ten minutes before the server took my order.
If you go, be prepared to have to get up and ask if you want something.
And be forewarned: your food may or may not arrive in a timely fashion, and may be totally different from what you expect.
Food & Drinks.
The french fries, naturally enough, are excellent.
Everything else I've tried has been, at best, average.
If you happen to be craving a Quiche Lorraine, they offer a good approximation.
However, for the best experience, avoid ordering a full meal and just go for drinks.
My friends from Montpellier recommend their Pastis.
French Cafe is at its most charming on a Friday or Saturday night with its dim lighting, ambient beats, and a lively but uncrowded international clientèle.
Midweek afternoons are less enjoyable, especially upstairs where it reeks of stale cigarette smoke.
The wall opposite the bar has some interesting posters, particularly the old map of Kunming from a bygone era when the French sought to extend their Southeast Asian empire northward to Yunnan.
As reported elsewhere, my experience was to order the 'Exotique' salad that was otherwise described as a chicken salad.
I had eaten most of it before I realised that it was sans chicken (actually, I did discover a couple of minute scraps of meat).
When I complained, I was told that they would remember next time.
I wanted to tell them that I would pay . . . next time.
I have had two extremely bad experiences with the French Cafe. The food has always been subpar and it seems they just don't try to maintain any kind of quality in the food they serve or the way they train there staff. Their coffee is decent which is about the only good thing I can say. After my last experience there I won't be going back again.
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Tuesday, May 21