The Tatao Restaurant is in the Radama Hotel. in the government and commercial area of Antananarivo. The room itself is quiet, and modestly decorated, with local crafts and with restrained lighting. We walked over from our accommodation at La Varangue, and were neither mugged, nor accosted for our troubles, despite warnings!
The restaurant menu is heavily french influenced, but with a few selected malagasy disshed. Like all mid to high range dining spots in Tana, it represents very good value. We ate for 27500 Ariary, inc drinks in 2012.
Favorite Dish: I enjoyed some local flavour with shredded zebu and lentils. The zebu shreds were crisp and crunchy whilst the lentils came with a mild curry flavour. My wife enjoyed a rich and decadent confit of duck. We waddled back to our hotel well sated.
In addition to being a very fine small hotel, La Varangue is also home to a very fine restaurant, one of the most highly regarded in Madagascar. Indeed it is said that were it located in metropolitan France, the quality of the cooking would be such that it might qualify for much coveted Michellin stars. Given that my experience of 'starred' restaurants is precisely zero, this claim may just be hype. But it is true to say that the food served is very good, the service is fine and the value is excellent (just 141,000 Ariary for 2 in 2012).
Favorite Dish: We chose from the seasonal menu. The food was fresh, tasty and presented with panache. I enjoyed the scallops and prawns in a creme crab sauce, followed by duck breast & potato cake with black rice. Minuk enjoyed calamari creole pate, and duck soup with foie gras. Very rich.
We finished with shots of the famed 'Arranged Rum' (cinammon and vanilla flavours). Delicious!
IT'S A COUP ALRIGHT!
It’s a coup alright. This fantastic restaurant manages to make French influenced food taste great, have an artful presentation AND give you enough food to survive on. That’s impressive. The service was friendly and always a glance away from appearing at my table. Even something as simple as pate (pictured) was sublime. It was a variety of pates including one made with vanilla. The décor was humorous yet still reflected Malagasy heritage. I showed up without a reservation and was made to feel welcome and received a very good table. I highly recommend this fine eatery. Expensive by local standards, but a fraction of what you would pay in Paris. Ingredients were fresh and of the highest quality. Even the vin rouge du maison (House red wine) was tasty!
Railways and eating are two of my most favourite things in the world, so combining the two has to be a sure fire winner!
Cafe de la Gare is part of the gorgeous and newly renovated railway station complex at the end of Avenue de l'Independence, and is an airy, elegant restaurant which summons up images of a bygone era of colonial gentility.
Unfortunately our time was too short to eat there, but I did longingly peruse the menu of French-inspired bistro fare with a Malagasy twist, and promptly extracted a promise from my husband that we would return to dine there on our next trip!
Tana residents that we spoke to were very complimentary about both the quality of the food and the reasonable prices, so for the moment, I will have to take their word for it!
Simple Diner Clean and Comfortable Seatings
Favorite Dish: Grilled Steak with Potato Fries, Soups, Noodles and Grilled Chicken Legs/Breasts, Juices/Soft Drinks Tea and Coffee at very reasonable price, nearly half then other Halal Restaurant around.
I had Steak Fried for less then US$3.00/Ar 6,000.00
This is the best restaurant in Antananarivo. Hard to believe. In fact there is even a tip on this site saying it’s not good. This is simply not true, just a misunderstanding. The food is ok, the pizza could be better, but overall it’s reasonable. What makes it the best restaurant is that it is the ONLY SOURCE OF FOOD in town after midnight. When you come out of a bar or club this wonderful eatery is open and ready to make you fresh, hot food. Service is excellent even if you have to wake them up (really). Once they realise you are there they are great. Cold beers, red wine, hot pizza and at 3am in the morning. These folks are open 24 hours a day and they have some great outside seating.
I enjoyed lunch here one day and had chicken curry dish with a nice cold beer. Sitting outside is a pleasant experience and you are in the central Place de L’Independance area. This makes is a great place to start out from for afternoon excursions.
I also enjoyed a few pizzas at 3am with some red wine on several nights.
OPEN 24 HOURS !!
La Boussole is located up on the ridge in Isaraka, and is apparently a Tana institution.
The restaurant is well laid out with a large bar area, a separate dining room and a central courtyard, which is flanked by a conservatory area on one side. In addition to the French-inspired a la carte menu, there is a snack menu (burgers, club sandwiches, Croque Monsieur/Madame and delicious zebu brochettes) as well as a menu of daily specials. The food is a trifle pricey, but everything that we had was tasty, and it was more than worth paying a little bit over the odds for such a congenial setting.
We visited at lunch time and ate in the lovely conservatory section (which boasts its own grape vine). Rumour has it that it is apparently a particularly lively venue over the weekend.
If you're at La Boussole during the day, why not check out the tiny but fascinating museum next door, which provides an interesting perspective on aspects of Malagasy daily life?
Favorite Dish: Delicious, juicy zebu brochettes from the snack menu - 10 in a portion may sound a little excessive, but they were so scrumptious that they disappeared in a trice, due at least partly to shameless pilfering on the part of my family! The perfect foil to an icy cold Three Horses pilsener!
The restaurant in the Hotel du Louvre was a surprising find. The hotel, a former Ibis, is relatively inconspicuously tucked away on the upper floors of a building near the presidential palace. The restaurant, which shares a floor with the lobby is decorated in wood paneling and has a nice courtyard outside. Service was excellent, and my waiter spoke good English. The menu has a variety of continental dishes, but I skipped these in favor of two Malagassy meals, both of which were excellent..
Favorite Dish: Romazava. Highly recommended!
The Cookie shop is not a restaurant as such, rather as written on their facade "Cookie Shop - American Bakery & Coffee Shop".
One of rarest all-day hangouts in Tana to have those comfy coffee tables and armchairs. Of course, we chose one coffee table and I thought the aching body which just had to stand a 6-hour-climb-&-walk could slouch on the armchairs. Tana being a small circle where social control is strong and where everybody knows everybody, slouching is just something out of the order there. Getting stiff on your chair too. lol Oh! in fact, it can be a cool hangout in the afternoon. When we entered there at 3pm, it was still, quite desert. We talked, laughed like noone was watching. Two hours later, it was tea time & just got crowded as the bright young things flock in, to chill out after a shopping spree, to indulge in some sweet tooth experiences, to meet up to celebrate Woman's day, to buy some loose coffee (too bad it was already packed and cannot spread the coffee roast smell all over the place). Ever told you it was March 8 when we got there, when Francia took her afternoon off to meet up with me, then to organize other social & charity events... to sum it up, to spend a day a modern Malagasy woman does: to work for a telecom company, to have a household with a kid, to have a social life while being pregnant, to meet up with a childhood friend who feels lazy with her daily walks and climbs... Aaah! the life! We got out when it got crowed and it was simply time to do so.
It is not Malagasy picturesque at all. Rather be a comfort food place.
Favorite Dish: - Said "all things US plus coffee" although was there only once & so far, only tried Cookie sandwich (a big vanilla icecream scoop squeezed between two cookies). Very sweet, very big as only a US portion could be. One thing a bona fide foodie can indulge only once in a while. ;-)
- Francia had her icecream scoop on a Brownie & liked it. The scoop was equally big. Could equal a three-scoop dessert in my favourite icecream parloir in Brussels.
I had the opportunity to try their chai when after indulging in our sweet experiences, we craved for some unsweetened beverage. Tea it was. I was about ordering an ordinary tea when the radar eyes noticed "Chai" on the card. Knowing the Malagasy propency to serve ersatzs of rare foreigner deli's, I ordered it without any expectation. I was greatly surprised with my first sipping. Being a chai fan, I really appreciate being able to retrieve a known savour under the tropiques: of the Kousmichoff Chai I used to have while living in Brussels. (Thank you Gillian for the great tip). There was a bit too much milk, though. Perfumed tea for Francia.
Btw, I don't know yet any place that serves the real tiramisu. Here maybe. The Chai experience makes me think they could serve me a decent tiramisu as, I think, it could be easy to make a decent tiramisu (that is if you manage to find all ingredients here).. at least, easier than making a Chai blend and get over with it with this great taste.
Will return ? Of course, to try their tiramisu (prolly with their espresso or caffe latte... or one of those coffee liquours on the list), their cheesecake (classic or strawberry), their crumble (Mum told me their crumble was good). There were just many things I could try there.
Most items are for sweet tooth folks. Fran told me it was only recently that they added sandwiches (salted, not cookie, brownie, crumble sandwiches) on the card.
Price: around 4500 Ar for my Cookie sandwich and the same for Francia's Brownie & vanilla scoop. Tea, about 2500 Ar.
The Créole specialty restaurant is located in Isoraka, on the plateau Colbert. A trendy area of Tana. Trendy as you'd easily find there expensive clothing stores (suitable for business code), French restaurants in stylish buildings, mostly in Merina or colonial style, with those wood verandas. The area is packed with such lovely houses. Not that far is Antananinarenina, the financial, business & administration district. Ooooh! not that far from Sucett's is one of my favourite windowshopping spots too, selling pottery items. Very beautiful ones. Can't remember its name (was there a name to this shop, btw?).
The restaurant... itself displays a créole-motive festoon on its dark ochre facade. Inside, a room that can handle about 10 tables. Then, one mezzanine which I hadn't seen. Just saw the stairs that led to there. Clientèle: seems to be a luncheon spot for Malagasy yuppies and for embassies & banks execs (vazaha & gasy alike). I use to like that mix. Anyway, seems OK for daily business lunch (not the formal ones, for that hit Colbert or La Varangue).
The staff is just attentive, not too much.
At its back wall, the rum shelvings. Aaaah! what is a bona fide island bar without rhums arrangés ? Look at the picture! I'm used to it in bars of Tana restaurants but this list in Sucett's menu card! With those evoctive names. Tremblement de terre (earthquake), Tigresse, Banane-Bois bandé. You guys gotta try this!! lol Just don't get Viagra before going there, else double stiff effect... lol... well, what do I know ? OK, you know banana but ask the waiter about the bois bandé.
Then you get more classical infused rums. Apricot infused, physalys infused, cinnamon infused... vanilla (hahahaha you're in the land of vanilla, you know!), caramel, banana, litchi... The list is impressive. Just impressive ! I was very satisfied with the lunch but the rhums arrangés list was beyond expectations. Here, at Sucett's, they talk about the "Rhums dérangés" (i.e, Disturbed rums)...
Favorite Dish: My beignets de crevettes were.. perfect... Thin dough, not stodgy. The prawns in there were still crunchy, not hard, nor elastic. That's for starter.
Main course, I wanted to try their canard aux olives. Was thinking ours home was the best... and wow! It was heaven! but not the same as ours. lol After all, why should I have something like the one at home when I happen to venture outside Mum's domain ? why?
As I said, it was almost like home... except that their sauce tasted a bit different... I think I got why... Noticed that this sauce contained olive bits as I chewed on them while having some of the sauce in my mouth. Also, I think they poured a bit of the olive pickles in the sauce (as if they'd poured a tiny amount of vinegar in it). Not bad. Quite interesting. So yummy I forgot taking a picture of it. What can I say ?
The other persons who were dining with me seemed enjoying their lunch (see picture2 for some bouchées as starters).... except for this.
A special note to Belgians, who are used to the mousse au chocolat as it is usually served in Belgium, to not expect the same mousse over here. Haven't tried it but one of our guests ordered a mousse as dessert & was a bit disappointed. Was it really bad? or just different ? don't know. Anyway, seems to not taste the same as the one(s) she used to have back home.
'La Brasserie' is a delightful looking restaurant inside the Hôtel de France. I saw the beautiful décor and smartly attired waiters one night and decided that I would eat here the night before I left on my travels across the island. I was greeted cheerfully and seated. Then I was served a wonderful looking and tasting Salade Niçoise (Pictured). This was followed by a beef dish(also pictured) and washed down with a good bottle of wine. Delightful. As soon as I returned to my hotel, I became violently sick. I have never been ill after a meal in Africa before or since. I was ill and at least had heartburn for almost a week afterwards. While I was on my tour, the guide told me he was aware of others who had become ill there. He said that they had changed management recently and things that things were imported frozen rather than be sourced locally and that standards had slipped. I suggest if you eat anywhere in Antananarivo –don’t eat here!
Definitely, one of the two best meals we ate in Madagascar were at this restaurant. We went three times, just so that we could try the other dishes.
Try the "Royal Seven" a large sample of each of the regions specialties. Zebu is very close to cow, so don't be thrown off by the exotic sounding name.
A quick guide:
Royal Seven (hanim-pitoloha)
Duck pate ( gana ritra )
Eel (amalona )
Cassava and pork (ravitoto sy henakisoa)
Meat and veggie Soup (Romazava)
Dried fish (kitoza)
Favorite Dish: Holy cow, the liquid-hot-magma chocolate cake desert is amazing.
When it comes to snacks, Shalimar ranks high amongst many urbanites. Shalimar is a snack spot where to have light Indo-Pakistanese fare. My favourite sambos and kebabs are from Shalimar. A big plus: sold at a snack pricing. I’m addicted to their sambos. For that reason, I only have tried their snack (mostly sambos and kebab), not the meal dishes.
I also like their thé indien, a simple cardamom tea. Love this aroma. This tea, however, reminds me of a great meal I had once in a Indian restaurant in Mons, Belgium. Great cross-country memories… Sambos is amongst fondest memories of Tana whilst cardamom tea renders me nostalgic of that great meal I once had during my stay in Mons.
Located downtown, off the main avenue, in the Indo-Paki area, Shalimar lies in Tsaralalàna, near the Indian embassy :-)
Changes me much from the Malagasy, French everyday fare.
Favorite Dish: - sambos (spicy meat triangles)... a fave of mine
- tsevro (spicy puffed rice w/ fried peanuts and caca pigeon bits)... another fave of mine
- jalebi (honey/caramel dough)
- kebab (spicy chopped meat kebab, almost like kefta)
- quatles/katles (egg-fried potato dough with chopped meat)....
Well it looks interesting. Slightly seedy, but in the center of all the activity in the park at the top of the stairs. But here I ate what surely must have been the poorest excuse for a pizza of my life, and I also had the dubious pleasure of watching aging French expats and sex tourists hanging out with their young Malagasy girlfriends. Emphatically not recommended. The Three Horses Beer, at least, was, as always, good.
Le Colbert is the premier hotel in Tana, and, with its fancy shops and elegant lobby, it deserves the reputation. I could afford to stay there, I guess, but I don't like throwing my money away, especially in a land where so many areso poor. Still, a touch of the good life sometimes beckons. So here's my advice. Skip dinner in the overpriced restaurant with its pretentious French food and go for breakfast in the patisserie, which offers an incredible array of pastries and excellent coffee in an atmosphere well siuited to newspaper reading and post card writing. You won't be sorry.
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