Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Comprehensive Guide – Ordered by the Number of Stars - to the Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar

Pictures: Chef Arnaud, Chez Arnaud, with Ambassador Hans-Dieter Stell, Christiane Stell and Christian G.E. Schiller; Camerons at Tsiky and Terrine a la Maison at Akoa

Off the eastern coast of Africa, Madagascar in the Indian Ocean is the 4th largest island in the world. Long known for vanilla beans and peppers, you can dine in its capital Antananarivo like in Paris, but at much, much lower prices and you can drink imported wines, mainly from France and South Africa, as well as – and this comes as a surprise to most visitors – wine produced locally.

As a result of the island's long isolation from neighboring continents, Madagascar is home to a vast array of plants and animals, many found nowhere else on Earth. Approximately 80% of all plant and animal species found in Madagascar are endemic. The island has been classified by Conservation International as a biodiversity hotspot.

Pictures: Impressions from Madagascar

Before becoming a sovereign country again in 1960, Madagascar was a French colony for over 60 years. Since regaining independence, the the first period (1960-1972), under the leadership of French-appointed President Philibert Tsiranana, was characterized by a continuation of strong ties to France. The period under Vice Admiral Didier Ratsiraka (1975-1993) saw a political alignment with the Eastern Bloc countries and a shift toward economic insularity. The period under the leadership of Professor Albert Zafy (1993-1996) ended with the return of President Didier Ratisiraka return to power (1996-2001), followed by the presidency of  Marc Ravalomanana (2001 -2009), who was eventually pushed from power in a coup d'etat led by Andry Rajoelina.


Antananarivo is the capital and largest city in Madagascar. Unlike most capital cities in southern Africa, Antananarivo was already a major city before the colonial era; in 1793, Antananarivo was made the capital of the Merina kings. The city was captured by the French in 1895 and incorporated into their Madagascar protectorate. Roads and broad flights of steps connecting places too steep for the formation of carriage roads were constructed throughout the city. In 2011, the capital's population was estimated at 1,300,000 inhabitants.

Pictures: Impressions from Antananarivo

I lived in Antananarivo from 1989 to 1992 and have visited Antananarivo since then on average every other year. The last time, I was in Madagascar, was for 2 months between November 2011 and January 2012.

The Restaurant Scene in Antananarivo

While most of the restaurants in Antananarivo offer French brasserie/restaurant food, there are also other food options, including traditional Malagasy food. The traditional Malagasy food is rice 3 times a day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a bit of meat or fish, and Analamao (bok choy-type greens). The Malagasy eat traditionally with a spoon and a fork - no knife. Madagascar has the highest per capita rate of rice consumption in the world.

French food in Madagascar ranges from basic bistro food to 1-star Michelin food. If you like French food, you are just right in Madagascar. You can eat in Antananarivo just as well as in Paris, but at considerably lower prices.

Wine in Madagascar

Turning to wine, Madagascar produces wine. The vineyards are in the Betsileo area in the highlands and total about 800 hectares. This compares with 100.000 hectares in Germany or South Africa. Traditional Malagasy wines – the vast majority - are made with so called French American hybrid grapes that are more fungus resistant than the vitis vinfera (European) grapes that dominate the world wine market. While traditional Malagasy wines tend to be of reasonable quality, they do not reach a quality level that would allow to marketed traditional Malagasy wines internationally. In particular, French American hybrid grapes tend to have a “foxy” taste that lets many wine drinkers stay away from these wines. See: The Wines of Madagascar - Good and Interesting Table Wines

But – and this is a brand new development - a new winery – Clos Nomena – has just started to produce Malagasy wine exclusively made with European grapes that tastes very much like the wines we are used to: Clos Nomena: Taking the Wine of Madagascar to New Heights

Pictures: Malagasy Wines

For imported wines, practically nothing was available in the 1980s, when I first set foot on the red island. That changed in the following years and French wine became readily available in supermarkets and restaurants. The most recent development is the influx of South African wine, which began perhaps a decade ago.


Here is my current list of Antananarivo's restaurants, rated on a scale from 1 to 5 stars.

I am publishing my views in 3 different ways:

(1) in alphabetical order: A Comprehensive Guide - in Alphabetical Order - to the Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar

(2) ordered by the number of stars: A Comprehensive Guide - Ordered by the Number of Stars - to the Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar and

(3) my 12 personal favorites, irrespective of stars: Schiller’s 12 Favorite Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar

This listing is ordered by the number of stars.

At the time of my last visit, in 2011/2012, the exchange rates were Euro 1 = Ariary 2750 and US$ 1 = Ariary 2000

5 Stars

La Varangue *****

Currently the best address in Antananarivo. A true dining experience thanks to Chef Lalaina Ravelomanana, but also to the elegant dining room and the lovely terrace, which overlooks the hotel’s charming garden. Nice, cosy separate bar with perhaps 20 perfumed rums.During my last visit, my wife Annette and II had a lovely lunch there with my friend and former Prime Minster Tantely Andrianarivo.

To get the full experience, choose the 7-courses menu Parfums et Saveurs for Ariary 125.000. Alternatively, the Medaillon de filet de zebu for 95.000 are exceptional. But most courses are in the Ariary 20.000 to 30.000 range. Last time, I started with risotto epice, then had the duo de filet d’agneau et faux filet and finished with banana, all for Ariary 69.000.

Two pages of wine. The wine list starts at Ariary 40.000 for Alsatian, South African and Bordeaux wines and goes up to Ariary 500.000 for a Vosne Romanee. Most wines in the Ariary 70.000 to 170.000 range. They also carry the Clos Nomena wine, but no traditional Malagasy wines.

Antaninarenina, 22 2273 97

4 Stars

Kudeta ****

Superbly stylish bar-restaurant, fancy modern place with a Malagasy touch – you could think to be in New York. International clientel, less French-centered than other places.

The menu makes imaginative use of local ingredients. If you like Fois Gras, this is one of the places to go; it comes in 4 different versions: nature, poele au miel, 2 facons de terrine and confit de foie gras, all for Ariary 18.000.

I also like the Crevettes and Cuissse de Nymphes (very juicy). The Assiette de Fromage de Madagascar for Ariary 12.000 is also tempting. Excellent presentation.

The wine list is dominated by French wine, in particular Bordeaux. On the first page of the wine list, they list 4 Bordeauxs at the Cru Bourgeois level for Ariary 300.000 to 400.000. The next page has about 25 mainly Bordeaux AC wines, starting at Ariary 45.000. Finally, the page vins du monde is dominated by South African wines, in the Ariary 40.000 to 70.000 range. In addition, Kudeta offers 10 wines by the glass (for Ariary 10.000 to 18.000) and 5 wines en carafe (for Ariary 20.000 and 30.000) for half a liter. No Malagasy wines.

Isoraka, 22 611 40

Chez Arnaud ****

A gem as far as I am concerned. A restaurant – without bar – which surprisingly has a huge list of pizzas, very much off the beaten track and very difficult to find for tourists. You meet Malagasy and expatriate residents here, who care for good, classic French restaurant food. The setting is appealing, with a Malagasy touch, but rather simple and not as fancy as in the other 4 star restaurants in Antananarivo.

The menu is huge, with two pages of pizzas, but what impressed me most was the huge variety of classical French food. The menu presentation is unpretentious, on white sheets in plastic cover sheets. The food is not cheap. Many courses are in the Ariary 18.000 to 20.000 range. But given the outstanding quality of the food, prices are reasonable.

Last time, we started with delicious Cuisses de Nymphes (with lots of garlic) and then had for the plat de resistance Foie Gras Entiere Poele (Foie Gras comes in 6 different versions) and Filet de Zebu avec Sauce Poivre Vert. We finished with Banane Flambee and Mousse au Chocolat, classics at their best.

The wine selection is impressive, with about 50 wines from France, but also from other parts of the world. Many wines are in the Ariary 40.000 to 70.000 range. Only one Malagasy wine is served, a Clos Malaza Gris for Ariary 20.000.

The Frenchman Arnaud is the Chef of Chez Arnaud. He came to Madagascar in 1995. He evidently loves cooking and knows what he is doing. As far as I know, he is the only Frenchman, who runs a restaurant in Antananarivo from the kitchen – all the others are maitre d’hotel and supervise the dining room. 

Ambohipo 22 221 78 Closed on Monday

Plantations ****

A lovely restaurant, without a bar, next to the IBIS Hotel, on the street from the center of town to Ivandry. The Plantation indeed reminded me of a plantation home in the Southern United States. It is not a Malagasy house, very different from everything else. Plantations is a very popular lunch place, but also open several evenings in the week. You can either sit in the building or in the lovely garden area. You feel a bit like in the country side. An oasis of tranquility, with a Southern soul. Very friendly service.

The menu is classical and innovative French restaurant food with most plats in the Ariary 17.000 to 18.000 range. My wife and I shared a Terrines de Foie Gras a la Facon au Chef for Ariary 18.000 and then  both had the Marmite de Fruits de Mer au Lait de Coco, also for Ariary 18.000, the last time we had dinner there.

A good selection of about 25 wines from various French wine growing areas, including Cotes du Rhone, Loire, Languedoc, Bordeaux, Bourgogne and Alsace, most in the Ariary 60.000 to 80.000 range as well as one wine from South Africa and the Malagasy Clos Nomena (for Ariary 42.000) add to the pleasure.

Ampasamadinika, 22 358 09

Le B’ ****

B stands for Buddha: A Balinese inspired restaurant with bar, lounge, dining room and a nice little porch. A new-wave restaurant in Tana, clearly playing in the top league.

The menu is written on a blackboard and changes seasonally. Overall, a high quality French restaurant food with individual courses in the Ariary 13.000 to 20.000 range. Innovative and very stylish presentation of the food. The Chef used to work at the Pallisandre, one of Antananarivo’s 5 star restaurants.

Large wine list with mainly French wines, but also some South African wines. Bordeaux is well represented. Wines start at around Ariary 50.000 and quite anumber of bottles go for 6 digit prices, up to Ariary 400.000. We had a Bergerac for Ariary 60.000. No wines from Madagascar.

Isoraka, 26 340 49

Palissandre ****

A new, classy, elegant hotel with a lot of Malagasy soul and tradition, overlooking the center of the city. One has a wonderful view from the terasse of the hotel. An oasis of peace, above the buzzing traffic of the Avenue d’Independence. A bit off the beaten track.

Excellent and great presentation. Filet de Zebu costs 20.000, as do most main courses. Traditional French cuisine and a number of Malagasy dishes. The Menu is in French and English.

A good selection of French wines and a few South African Wines – 28 in total, including the Clos Malaza as gris, rouge, rose et blanc, for 32.000. The red Bordeaux AC cost 80.000 and the Muscadet 70.000, again a bit higher priced than other four star restaurants.

Faravohitra, 22 605 60

Café Charly (Carlton) ****

Until not so long ago, the Carlton Hotel used to be the Hotel Hilton, which was for many years the only international chain hotel in Madagascar. The Hilton always was - and the Carlton still is - a popular place for events (I threw my farewell reception there). Similarly, the restaurant used to cater and still does to the hotel guests. Typically, Antananarivo residents do not go there for dinner.

But the restaurant was, years back, the place where the country’s leaders and visiting business and development agencies people would mingle over lunch; in the evening, however, the visitors would typically go to one of the restaurants in town.

This has changed for at least 3 reasons. There are now several other hotels in town that cater to international business travelers, traffic has become so bad that people want a more central location and the development agencies people are not coming for the time being as the current regime has not been recognized by the international community. But this will change and things will get back to normal. Now, however, while the restaurant is very nice and has an ambitious menu, it tends to be empty during lunch and dinner. 

The restaurant has recently seen a major facelift and has become a hip place. The food is much more French than I expected. I like very much the Gambas de Mahajanga, Katakata au Lait de Coco for Ariary 25.000 and the traditional Tartate Charly’s avec Croquette de Cassava for Ariary 22.000. Most dishes are Ariary 25.000. The Menu is available in French and English.

The wine selection is relatively broad, with 4/5 of the bottles being from France. Of the French wines, about half is Bordeaux, many around Ariary 70.000 and one wine for Ariary 350.000. The other wines come from the Rhone, Loire, Bourgogne and Langeduec regions as well as Italy, Spain, Chile and South Africa. In addition, Café Charly offers 2 Malagasy wines – the Clos Malaza (red, white and rose) and the Grand Cru d’Antsirabe, both for Ariary 38.500. It is one of the broadest wine lists in town, reflecting the clientele of this international hotel, coming from all 4 corners of the world.
La Taverne de Hotel Colbert ****

Traditional French, classy restaurant with a lot of cloud and a long history. An institution. I have dined there with Ministers and Prime Ministers. When I arrived in 1989 in Antananarivo, it was the only place where you could eat in style. It has not changed much and still is one of the top spots.

Classy good traditional French food. Most main courses are in the Ariary 25.000 to 30.000 range. This time I had Mi-cuit de fois gras frais maision for Ariary 22.500, Marmite de langoustine for Ariary 30.000 and an Tarte de la banana au rhum de Nosy Be for Ariary 14.500

Exceptional wine list. Grand selection of Bourgogne and Cote du Rhone wines, but also of Bordeauxs. Most wines are in the 6 digit level, with many wines costing more than Ariary 200.000. Wines start at Ariary 60.000.

Antaninarenina, 22 202 02

Hediard ****

A very elegant and classy new-wave restaurant, opposite to the French Embassy. This is the place where the French Ambassador takes his guests, I suppose. As a specialty, and in addition to traditional, classy French restaurant food, Hediard also serves Sushi. A French restaurant that could be in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The French wine list is impressive.

Every Thursday, they have tea time for Ariary 25.000 with a variety of teas and delicious, sophisticated sweets.

Across from French Embassy, 22 283 70

3 Stars

Café de la Gare ***

One of the new-wave additions to the Tana restaurant scene in the renovated Railways Station Building. Piano music very evening. A very lively place, where you always can meet interesting people. Very fast internet free of charge. English-speaking staff.

The food is good French brasserie food, with a limited choice for lunch and a more elaborate choice for dinner. I like the Tartare de Beuf for Ariary 13.000. Most main courses are around Ariary 15.000. The brunch on Sunday for Ariary 18.000 is very popular.

Friday evening, fresh oysters are brought in from Fort-Dauphin in the south of Madagascar. Half a dozen oysters on the half-shell cost Ariary 18.000. See on schiller-wine: Fine Wine and Fine Oysters in Madagascar: Oysters from Fort Dauphin and Wine from Clos Nomena

The wine list contains about 40 bottles, including a Blanc, a Rouge and a Rose Clos Nomena for Ariary 56.000. Among the other wines, one finds a lot of decent wines from Bordeaux, for Ariary 50.000 to 140.000, wines from other French regions and a good selection of wines from South Africa.

Brasserie and Bar

Train Station, 22 611 12

Viko Viko ***

A rather large and typical French Brasserie near the Hotel Carlton at the Ho Shi Min Square. It is a simple, basic and spacious restaurant with a large bar, a nice lounge area, 2 connected dining rooms  and an open air space. It reminded me very much of a “routier” in France. “We are packed for lunch. Before the crises we were also always full for dinner”.

Oddly, it is not included in the otherwise comprehensive list of Tana restaurants of the monthly Tana Planete Magazin, nor can you find it in any of the guides. But it is well known in and well frequented by the French expatriate circle in Tana. When I was there, 2/3 of the clients were French expatriates.   

It is run by a French couple, perhaps in their late fifties/early sixties. They own and operate Viko Viko now for 6 years. She is in charge of the cash register and he constantly walks through the restaurant to make sure the service is efficient and smooth. He greets most clients personally and seems to know everyone. Generally, everybody seems to know everybody.

The menu is written on a blackboard that is put in front of you when you order. It contains quite a number of salads (in the Ariary 12.000 range) and a dozen or so French Brasserie classics (between 15.000 and 18.000). They also have wood-fired oven and offer half a dozen pizzas for around 13.000. Friday’s special – Couscous – is apparently very good. Last time I had Salade Nicoise for Ariary 12.000 for lunch with a ballon de rose. He has the classics like Maigret de Canard, Gambas Sautees, Steak au Poivre, to name a few.

Viko Viko offers perhaps 10 wines by the bottle, all written on little plates that are attached to the wall, in the Ariary 50.000 to 80.000 range.

Place Ho Chi Minh (near Carlton Hotel)

Villa Vanille ***

A classy establishment outside the centre in an old colonial villa, with a strong Malagasy component. There is nightly music performed by Malagasy bands and it has the best Malagasy wine list in town.

The cooking is somewhat eclectic, though as you'd expect from the name, the region's most famous and flavorsome orchid features heavily. Amazingly, a full page with different pizzas and a full page with couscous variations are accompanying a traditional French restaurant menu with such delicacies as Camerons a la Vanille (Ariary 50.000) and Langouste rouge grille (Ariary 50.000).

Villa Vanille is also a good place to taste Malagasy foie gras: You have a choice between Foie gras maison, Foie gras a la vanilla and Escalope de foie gras chaud a notre facon, all around Ariary 18.000.

Importantly, is the only top restaurant in Antanarivo which features a good selection of Malagasy wine. Villa vanilla currently offers the Clos Malaza, the Lazan ‘I Betsilio and the Grand Cru de Antsirabe as Rouge, Blanc and Gris, by the glass and by the bottle (for Ariary 22.000 the former two and Ariary 27.000 the latter). In addition, you can choose among a decent collection of French, Argentine and South African wines in the Ariary 40.000 to 90.000 range.

Antanimena, 22 205 15

Sakamanga ***

I have seen the hotel growing from a small, intimate place to quite a large complex. The owner has acquired over the years various houses and has created a labyrinth and extremely charming patchwork hotel that doubles as a museum.

The large majority of the clientele tends to be tourists, often nature freaks and sometimes those middle-aged people who tour the country by taxi-brusse. It is always packed and lively. 

Very good and reasonably priced food. I like the Brochette de Zebu for Ariary 10.000. Most dishes are in the up to Ariary 15.000 price range. Dinner is served in the restaurant facing the street, while lunch is also served within the Sakamanga complex in small garden area with lots of tropical plants.

In addition to good French and South African wines, the wine list carries a Malagasy wine, a Grand Cru d’Antsirabe (rouge) and Clos Malaza (white and sweet). They also offer wines en carafe and en verre from France and South Africa. I also like the selection of Rhum aromatisee and typically finish the evening – if I stay at the Sakamanga – with a couple of glasses of rhum (for Ariary 2.000).

22 358 09

Akoa ***

Located in Ivandry, the suburb where many foreigners live, Akoa consists of a small hotel and an excellent restaurant. I in particular like to have lunch or dinner in the tropical garden in the pool area.

The menu is strictly French brasserie and restaurant food with French standards like Tartare de Crevette and Terrine de Canard, Filets de Sole among the main courses, all in the Ariary 18.0000 range. As a specialty, Akoa offers a Menu Zazakely for children up to 10 years for Ariary 16.000.

Reflecting the relatively large share of English-speaking clients of Akoa – the American School of Antanananarivo is just next door - the wine list used to be more international than in other Tana restaurants, but no longer is: now you find only French wines on the wine list, ranging from Ariary 37.000 to Ariary 165.000.  Akoa also offers wine en verre and en carafe.

I have written about Akoa: Restaurant and Hotel AKOA – An Oasis of Tranquility in the Buzzing Third World City Antananarivo in Madagascar

Ivandry, 22 437 11

La Rotonde (Hotel Gregoire) ***

Undoubtedly, the best place to eat fish in Tana. An institution, which has a bit of a problem to survive in light of the many new-wave restaurants. Paul Gregoire founded the bar Poker d’as in 1942, when Madagascar was still a French colony. Over time the place was enlarged with the addition of a hotel and 2 restaurants. It is now managed by the 3. generation of the Gregoire family.

I like the Ocean en Plateau for two people for Ariary 70.000 – Camaron, Crabe, Langouste, Crevettes, Calmares, Poisson fume, Huitres. They also serve fresh oysters from Mahajanga and Fort Dauphin.

The wine list includes French standards, but also 2 Malagasy wines – the Grand Cru d’Antsirabe and the Clos Malaza, both for Ariary 17.000 and as vins rouge, blanc, gris.

Besarety, 22 222 66.

Le Petit Verdot ***

The favorite of many French expatriates in Antananarivo, because of the very typical French bistro ambiance, the good food, the outstanding selection of French wines and the good price/quality ratio. As far as I am concerned, it has the best wine card in town.

Typical French Bistro food with courses in the Ariary 9.000 to 15.000 range.

They also have a formule du midi for Ariary 9.000: Steak frites, dessert du jour, ballon de vin. Isn’t this a steal? Saturday evening, they have the Cassolette de Fruits de Mer for Ariary 18.000. I always wanted to try it, but have not yet done it.

An exceptionally long wine list with about 100 wines by the bottle, at very reasonable prices. Many of the wines are from the Bordeaux region, ranging from simple AC wines up to the 2004 Brane-Cantenac for 220.000 and other wines in this category. But the rest of France is also well represented, including the South West. 14 wines are served “en pot” – mainly from South Africa and France.

4 Malagasy wines by the bottle – Lazan I Betsilio and Cru de Malaz (white, red, grey, rose) – for Ariary 20.000 complete the impressive list. Overall, the wines seem to be very reasonably priced. Most wines are around Ariary 50.000.

Ambohijatova, 22 392 34

La Ribaudiere ***

A hotel cum restaurant and bar in the center of town. It also has a very nice garden restaurant/lounge area. Newly renovated. It is owned and run by two French men, who took over the place about 3 years ago. They alternate and run the place for a month each. I met Stephan, whose wife is a French advisor to the Government.

The restaurant is very modern and arranged with good taste. Every detail is thought through.  Stephan is a pro. He, among others, was a director at a 4 star hotel in Los Angeles. In fact, I felt very much like in Miami South Beach in the restaurant. The Lounge music supports this feeling.

Very few Malagasy people, few tourists, dominated by French co-operants. Very much a 40 something male co-operant crowd. 

The food is classic French bistro/restaurant food, with most main courses around Ariary 15.000. Always, the food was very tasty and well presented. Reflecting Stephan’s origins, the also offer as a specialty 6 kinds of Flammenkuchen – an Alsatian speciality, for Ariary 15.000. In addition: Fondue Savoyade for 23.000 Ariary and Raclette Savoyade for Ariary 29.000.

The lunch menu express for Ariary 12.000 (steak frite + verre + caffee) is also tempting.

Wine card: 17 wines from France and South Africa, mostly in the Ariary 30.000 to 40.000 range. Last time we had an A Bordeaux C for Ariary 35.000.

Behind the BNI 24 215 25

Au Triporteur ***

A table d’hote and tapas bar, owned and run by a French. I like in particular the very nice garden terrace with a gorgeous view of the Palais de la Reine. Lunch and dinner sur reservation only.

We had a wonderful Sunday four-course lunch with friends. For 10 people, the bill came to Ariary 480.000, including 2 bottles of French wine. I liked the cheese plate, which comprised only Malagasy cheeses, including a Bleu.

The wine list is good, with reasonably priced French wines. We had an excellent 2004 Riesling from Alsace and a delicious 2005 Medoc.

Andrianarivo, 22 414 49 

Infinithe ***

A super-stylish, modern, ninimalist new place near Lac Anosy in the old Solimotel on the road to Arivonimamo. The interior was designed by Johary Chris Rasoarahona, the son of my friend Christian Rasoarahona.

It is a café which opens in the morning. People come were for breakfast, for lunch or a snack/cake/coffee in the afternoon as well as for a cocktail in the afternoon. Infinithe closes in the early evening; it does not serve dinner.

For lunch it is packed with mostly Malagasy working in the government offices district of Ampefiloha. The food is classic French brasserie food. In the afternoon, people come for the sensational cake and pastry selection. The wine card is small, but very appealing with a good selection of wines by the glass and by the bottle, including half a dozen French wines.

I am looking forward to the opening of a second Infinithe in Ivandry.

Ampefiloha, 032 03 888 88

La Boussole ***

The Compass - an attractive, lively bar-restaurant that could be in the South of France. Nice little patio allows for al-fresco lunch and dinner. A hang out place for young expatriates.

The restaurant serves mainly French brasserie-style dishes, while the bar whips out more prosaic snacks such as burgers and the like. Thus, a broad selection of dishes, from Hamburgers to Romazava to Zebu Steak and Foie Gras.

About 20 wines by the bottle, from Ariary 45.000 to 140.000. About half of the wines are from Bordeaux.

Isoraka, 22 358 10

Le Rossini ***

A fancy new-wave restaurant with a comfortable lounge and bar area. Live (pop) music every Friday and Saturday. Has a nice terrace on the second floor for lunch and dinner (in the summer).

Large selection of traditional French restaurant food, with most courses in the Ariary 12.000 to 17.000 range. I started with the Cuisses de Nypmphes au Provencal for Ariary 14.000 and had the Tornedos Rossini for Ariary 21.500 as main course.

Good selection of wines. Half of the wines are Bordeaux, starting at Ariary 55.000 and quickly moving into the 6 digit range.

Rossini clearly aims at the **** star category, but I have never been satisfied, when I ate there. Thus, only 3 stars as far as I am concerned, although I know that many of my friends feel it is a **** place.

Isoraka, 22 342 44

Villa Isoraka ***

A new restaurant next to the Rossini in Isoraka, in a traditional Malagasy villa. This used to be a popular hang-out with Americans, in part because of the tex-mex food. Although the food of Villa Isoraka is classic French restaurant/brasserie food, they kept a few tex-mex favorites on the menu.

Villa Isoraka consist of a stylish and trendy indoor restaurant, a rather large garden restaurant around the building and a small bar area. The garden restaurant is lovely, dominated by a huge Ravinale plant, which is almost has high as the Villa Isoraka.

Villa Isoraka does not have a printed menu, but all dishes are written on a blackboard. The menu is not large, consist of classical French restaurant/brasserie food (with some tex-mex component). The 5 starters are all in the Ariary 9.000 to 13.000 range, and the about 10 main courses in the Ariary 13.000 to 18.000 range.

The wine list is very impressive. Villa Isoraka has a one page list of wines by the glass, which includes Champagne for Ariary 40.000 and a Chateau Gloria for 34.000. Other wines by the glass are in the Ariary 15.000 to 25.000 range. No Malagasy wine except Clos Nomena for Ariary 50.000

Isoraka 24 220 52

Le Montparnasse ***

Very cosy, French restaurant with a nice bar area. A small place with low ceilings right off the busy route circulaire in the Ampandrana Quartier of Tana.

Main courses in the Ariary 12.000 to 15.000 range, mostly classic French cuisine, as the name of the restaurant already suggests. But they also have 5 Malagasy dishes, as the owner is married to a Malagasy. Le Montparnasse also serves Pizzas for Ariary 13.000.

The wine list is very limited, but not bad. About half a dozen French wines are listed on a blackboard, with the list changing frequently as the owner indicated. The wines were in the Ariary 35.000 to 60.000 range. No Malagasy wines.

Across from the German Embassy, 32 07 848 03

Le Palladios ***

A Brasserie/Restaurant cum Garden Pizzeria and Lounge Bar, on the main route to Ivandry. It caters to the international crowd that lives in Ivandry. The menu is quite large and broad, including a long list of salades composes for around Ariary, grillades au barbecue for Ariary 15.000, plats for Ariary 15.000, les specialities orientales for 18.500 and les pizzas au feu de bois.

Le Palladios does not have a wine menu, but perhaps 20 different bottles of wines sitting on little table, where you look at the bottle and decide. About half of the bottles are Bordeaux wines, not exceeding Ariary 100.000. 

Ankorondrano 22 539 49

Zebu Original Bistro ***

The restaurant is in the first floor of traditional Malagasy house, with a nice, small garden. As the name indicates, its speciality is Zebu steaks. Once every week, the offer the “formule”, which is a plat with Zebu steak a volonte, i.e. as much as you want, for Ariary 25.000. Otherwise, you can choose from a wide variety of typical Bistro dishes, in the 10.000 to 15.000 range. I finished the dinner with banana flambé for Ariary 5.000.

The crowd is tilted a bit more to non-French, English speaking visitors and residents than in other restaurants of this class.

The wine list is short and international; no Malagasy wines. Last time, we had an Argentinean wine for Ariary 35.000, which was appropriate as we ate with a long-timer Argentinean friend there.

Isoraka, 033 14 683 95

Brunch'n Bio ***

A new place in Ivandry, close to Radio Netherlands, run and owned by a German woman, Michaela Pawliczek, who used to work for the German development cooperation KfW and decided to stay in Madagascar and change jobs when KfW closed its office in Madagascar in the wake of the recent political crisis.

Reflecting Michaela's origins, you find quite a number of German specialties on the menu, like Bratwurst. At the same time, Brunch'n Bio is riding on the "green" wave and all the food is organic. Within a short period of time, Brunch'n Bio has become a popular place for lunch in Ivandry.

Brunch'n Bio is also a caterer and a bakery; it was the obvious choice of my daughter Cornelia and her fiance Chris last year, when the threw an Oktoberfest Party in their back yard in Ivandry. My wife Annette likes very much the German (bio-) bread of Brunch'n Bio.

From the Brunch'n Bio facebook page: La table d'hôte « Brunch'n Bio » est ouverte depuis septembre 2011 pour vous chouchouter, votre famille et vos amis avec des brunchs samedi et dimanche (10-15h) et des déjeuners et tea time pendant la semaine (12-14h et 14-16h, sauf mardi) basés au maximum sur des ingrédients biologiques. En plus, vous trouverez chez nous un grand choix de pain complet, jus & smoothies, notre propre ligne thés bio et nos fameux cookies. Nous sommes situés dans une magnifique maison malgache traditionnelle avec jardin spacieux et calme à Alarobia, près de l'Immeuble Assist.

Ivandry 032 05 145 05 - 034 05 145 05

Le 313 (Hotel du Louvre) ***

A new hotel in Antananarivo for international business traveler. With the Colbert, Carlton, one of the three top business hotels in Antananarivo.

French/international food for the clients of the hotel. Most courses are around Ariary 12.000. The restaurant is a very good deal, but is shunned a bit as it offers the atmosphere of an international chain restaurant.

For lunch, you can choose for Ariary 10.000 a burger, salad, or pizza plus un dessert and a soft drink. Limited, but good selection of mainly French and South African wines, mostly around Ariary 50.000.

The wine list consists of about 20 wines in the Ariary 40.000 to 50.000 range, from France and South Africa. Not too exciting. They also have a Clos Malaza for 35.000. 

Antaninarenina, 22 390 00

Le Phare ***

A new restaurant in Isoraka, quite different from all the others in the quarter, as it is a Creperie. The restaurant is rather large, with two dining rooms. The restaurant is very neatly and stylishly done in blue and white and at least I felt a bit like in northern France.

I am not a crepes or galettes expert, but Le Phare offers an enormous list of different crepes and gallettes, ranging from Ariary 5.000 to 15.000. Of course, Le Phare serves cidre, brut and doux, but also has a limited wine selection. But you go there for the cidre. My daughter Cornelia went there for lunch and like it very much.

Isoraka, 20 26 323 28 mercredi – dimanche 18:30 – 22:00 

Nerone ***

It advertises itself as “un petit bout de l’Italie au Coeur de Tana – gourmandizes de la cuisine italienne”. Indeed, a typical Italian trattoria with an extensive Italian menu. A high-quality restaurant in the Haute-Ville, with authentic specials, exquisite pasta, good wine and mock-Roman décor. It's probably the best Italian experience you'll have in Madagascar. Most courses are in the Ariary 20.000 range. Complemented by a list of about a dozen Italian wines. A large place for an Italian feast.

Ambatonakanga, 22 23118

Le Carnivore ***

A new, trendy, modern meat place with a nice Lounge/Bar area, between the Nerone and the Petit Verdot. The lunch menu is straightforward – as main course you can choose between 7 different meat options, all at Ariary 18.000. Similarly, the 7 or so starters all cost Ariary 7.000. For dinner, le Carnivore offers 3 options: A vegetarian meal for Ariary 20.000, unlimited meat + dessert for Ariary 35.000 and unlimited entrée + unlimited meat + dessert for Ariary 45.000.W hen I was there the last time, the place was packed.

The wine card is interesting, starting at Ariary 40.000 and going up to close to Ariary 200.000.

Rue Ranavalona III, close to Petit Verdot.

Le Combava ***

A new hotel cum restaurant on the route to the airport, just before the American Embassy, when you come from the city. The setting of the restaurant is beautiful; you get a bit the feel of being in a green house.

The food is good, traditional brasserie food, with main courses in the Ariary 15.000 to 18.000 range. Reflecting the large share of American clients, you have a choice between a menu in French or in English.

The wine card comprises 16 wines from a rather wide selection of countries, including the Malagasy Lazan I Betsileo for Ariary 15.000. Unusually, the wines tend to be good, inexpensive table wines and very few cost more than Ariary 30.000. Perhaps have a dozen of the wines are Vin de pays des Cotes du Tarn wines. 

26 328 47

Tamboho ***

A new hotel restaurant in the Waterfront quartier, with a lovely deck, overseeing the lake. The set-up is very modern and functional. A good selection of French brasserie dishes, mostly around Ariary 12.000.

The wine list looks interesting, with an international touch, many bottles around Ariary 60.000.

Waterfront 22 693 00

La Table de IBIS ***

The hotel restaurant of the new IBIS on the route to Ivandry. Most dishes in the Ariary 18.000 range. A wine list with an international touch, with many wines around Ariary 60.000.


Le Shandong ***

Arguably the best Chinese restaurant in town, with a large, typical Chinese menu with dishes raining between Ariary 10.000 and 20.000. Le Shandon also serves Malagasy and imported wines, ranging from the Clos Malaza for 15.000 to a Graves for 70.000.

22 319 81

Le Grill du Rova ***

A charming restaurant on the hillside just below the Rova with a strong Malagay touch. Only open for lunch. The Sunday brunches with a traditional Malagasy band are very popular. Very nice setting with a terrace overlooking the city.

Limited, but interesting menu featuring French and Malagasy dishes. French starters are all for Ariary 10.000 and Main Courses are all for Ariary 12.000; the latter include brochettes de filet du zebu and magret de canard. I can recommend the Degustation de Plats Malgache for Ariary 25.000. Regular Malagasy courses are offered for Ariary 12.000. The wine list is minuscule and not worth mentioning it.

Haute Ville below Rova, 22 017 17

Sucett’s ***

A quiet place that serves good French Bistro and creole food. Just around the corner of the Kudeta. From the outside, the red glow give Sucett's the air of a slightly seedy cabaret, but there's little of ill repute here: you'll find plenty of budget-conscious travelers and keen eaters tucking into the French and creole cuisine.

Isoraka, 22 322 27

Chez Mariette *** (Table d’ Hote)

The place to go for a high-class Malagasy dinner, although I am not sure it is still in operation. Renowned Chef Mariette Andrianjaka has cooked for notables during her long career and now runs a table d’hote in her 19th-century villa. She prepares six-course set meals based on haifi cuisine, the traditional banquets once served to Merina royalty. These might include anything from carp to eel or goose, accompanied by myriad vegetable and rice dishes.

Faravohitra, 22 216 02

La Fougere Colbert ***

The second restaurant of the Hotel Colbert, with a nice terrace.


2 Stars

Tsiki **

A restaurant that you find in no guide. Few tourists or expatriates go there. I am one of the few. French and Malagasy food at budget prices in an environment that has in my view some class.

It has a two pages menu with one page Malagasy food and one page classical French bistro food. As for the former, I can recommend the Romazava for Ariary 9.000. Most Malagasy dishes are in this price range. Last time, I had Gambas Grilles for Ariary 10.000 and my wife a pave de Zebu a la Sauce Roquefort, also for Ariary 10.000. We finished with Banane Flambee for Ariary 3.500.

The wine list is short. A couple of imported wines and the Coteaux d’ Ambalavao and the Cote de Fianar, red, white, gray and rose, in 0.75 and 0.375 bottles. The Coteaux d’Ambalavao is Ariary 11.000 in the 0.75 liter bottle and the Cote de Fianar Ariary 7.000. Both are produced by the Chinese Chan Fui et Fils.

My long-time Antananarivo favorite. See on schiller-wine: Tsiky – Charming Restaurant in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Serving Good Food and Malagasy Wines

Analakely, 22 283 87

Le Buffet du Jardin **

A simple indoor and outdoor brasserie, very popular with French expatriates, with reasonably priced brasserie food, which has recently been taken over by the Hotel Colbert, which is just around the corner. With the arrival of the Colbert you see less ladies of the night waiting for clients. Centrally located, next to the Colbert and Louvre. One of the regulars there was former Prime Minster Guy Razanamasy, for after or pre-dinner Whiskey.

I never had dinner there, but like it for a quick lunch in the garden brasserie or an afternoon coffee. The Buffet du Jardin has a good list of plats, typically around Ariary 8.000. Chris, my future son in law, likes the Pizzas there, all around Ariary 10.000.

Antaninarenina, close to Hotel Colbert

Glacier Brasserie (Hotel Glacier) **

Exists since 1933 and has been very popular with the French expatriate community since then. A large complex with a café, which turns into a bar with live music during the weekend and a brasserie, as well as a casino. Glacier is always packed with ladies of the night waiting for clients. From the balcony brasserie in the first floor, you have a very nice view of the Avenue de l’ Independence.

The brasserie offers good quality French brasserie food, a good menu with Malagasy dishes and some Chinese dishes as well as pizza and pasta. It includes such standards as Carpaccio de Zebu, Entrecote and Filet de Zebu, Steak Tartare and Lapin a la Moutarde, all in the Ariary 12.000 to 15.000 range. Last time I had Cuisse de Nymphe a la Provencale, Crevettes a la Creole and Ananas Flambee, all for Ariary 30.000.

Last time, the lunch special was Salate Tomate et Mozzarella, Voie de Veau a l’ Echalo and Crème Caramel for Ariary 9.900. 

One of best place in Antananarivo for traditional Malagasy wine. Their wine list includes a relatively large share of Malagasy wines: Lavasoa, Lazan ‘I Betsileo, Clos Malaza and Cote de Fianar. Last time, we had a bottle of the rouge Cote de Fianar, for Ariary 12.000. Glacier also ½ a dozen French wines, all in the Ariary 50.000 range and wines from South Africa for around Ariary 30.000.

Avenue de l’Independence, 22 202 60

Restaurant Des Artistes **

A new, simple hotel cum restaurant, in the center of town. It has only an outside, though covered, restaurant. The menu is limited but the food – snack/bistro food – is good. The one page menu offers: Sandwichs, Entrees, Pates, Plats – in the Ariary 8.000 to 12.000 area.

Analakely, close to Glacier

Ile Rouge **

A popular, very basic hang-out of French expatriates, often accompanied by their Malagasy partners. Catering to its clientele, the bistro food is quite good. You have a nice selection of typical French bistro dishes written on a blackboard, many in the Ariary 10.000 to 12.000 range. The Tournedos Rossini stand out as well as the Escargots. On Sunday, Il Rouge always has something special.

The wines are basic bag-in-box wines from France and South Africa.

Ambondrona, Rue Rainandriamampandry

Pourquoi Pas! **

Formerly the Chez Rodrigue, this small French Bistro is now open for lunch and for dinner, from Tuesday to Saturday, run by an French expatriate. It advertises itself as “Resto-Snack-Tapaz”. The furniture is indeed extremely basic and would suggest Pourquoi Pas! is a Snack Bar. One the other hand, the blackboard suggests a good number of classical French Bistro dishes, in the Ariary 12.000 to 16.000 range for the plats. Indeed, when I had lunch there, the place was packed, mainly with French, who seemed to be regulars and to know the patron well.

No Malagasy wines, all French and some South African

Isoraka, 31 Rue Russie, 26 300 69

Nika **

A new restaurant, next to the Chocolaterie Robert, that focuses on West-African food, but also serves some Malagasy and French dishes. A trendy, chic, minimalist brasserie with a large, separate bar area. Everything is written on several blackboard that hang on the main wall. The main dishes are around Ariary 9.000.  The menu is small, but special and interesting. About half a dozen wines are offered.

Antanimena, next to the Chocolaterie Robert Shop 22 291 24

Chez Maxime **

A long time Chinese food favorite of Ivandry residents. Off the beaten track.

Ivandy 22 431 51

Chez Lorenzo **

Lovely pizzeria, Italian restaurant and small hotel in the Ivandry suburb, owned and run by the entertaining and charming Italian expatriate Lorenzo and his Malagasy wife. They opened about 20 years ago. I in particular like the cozy garden restaurant. The menu includes Antipasti, Pate e Risotti, Carni e Pesce and about 20 Pizze. Most dishes are around Ariary 12.000.

The wine list is almost exclusively Italian red wines, all around Ariary 60.000.

Ivandry, 22 427 76

Le Grand Orient ** Currently closed

A Chinese Malagasy restaurant that has been there for ages. Le Grand Orient could have been in Shangai in the 1930s. The time appears to have stood still. With piano music in the eving. The menu combines Chinese and Malagasy cooking. I have spent there many evenings with my Malagasy friends. Hope it will reopen and keep it therefore on the list.

Close to Railway station, 22 202 88

O! Poivre in the Hotel de France **

Hotel de France has a Brasserie (Le Brasserie), see above, and a Restaurant (O!Poivre), conveniently located on the Avenue de l’Independence. O!Poivre is a small restaurant, which used to serve typical French restaurant food, but I understand, the restaurant is under new management and has changed its concept. I was a regular there, when I used to live in Tana. The crevettes au poivre were delicious.

34 Avenue de l’Independence, 22 213 04

Ozone **

Thai restaurant and music bar offering about 200 Thai courses in the Ariary 10.000 range. Typical Thai restaurant. You feel like in Bankog. I had the spicy seafood noddles. With music bar.

The wine list is limited. No French wines, but Malagasy and South African wines.

Next to Le B’, 24 749 73

Coreen Restaurant **

Very authentic Korean restaurant owned and run by Koreans. With gas tanks under the tables. If you like Korean food, go there.


Divina **

Pizzas, crepes and desserts in Analamahitsy. My daughter’s fiance Chris thinks that the Divina pizzas are the best in Antananarivo.

Analamahitsy 034 43 241 22

Le Relais Normand **

One of Antananarivo’s old-timers that has survived. But in today’s hip restaurant scene of Antananarivo, it looks a bit out of line. Was over years one of my favorite places, but has been clearly crowded out by the new-wave restaurants. Last time I went there, I had lunch and was the only client.

The menu is classical French bistro food. I had crudite de Zuma for Ariary 10.000, followed by crevette sautee a l’ail for the same price. Everything costs Ariary 10.000 or less. The food was very good, but both tourists and expatriates probably do not feel overly comfortable here.

Decent French dominated wine list, including the Clos Malaza as Rouge, Blanc, Gris for Ariary 17.500.

Tsaralalana, 22 207 88

Jasmin **

A Chinese restaurant that has been around for several decades. An institution that has seen better days but has remained unchanged. I used to go there for business lunches a lot and with the kids during the week end as they all loved Chinese food. The new wave of hipp restaurants is crowding out this traditional place.

Rich choice of good, delicate Chinese food, with a bit of a Malagasy twist. Not cheap – a main course often around Ariary 15.000.

Behind BNI in Analakely

Chalet des Roses **

A – relatively speaking - typical Italian trattoria and pizzeria, with pizza, pasta and other Italian dishes on the large menu, all in the Ariary 7.000 to 12.000 range. You have a choice of 20 different pizzas.
In addition to a dozen or so French wines, the Chalet des Roses carries a list of red, white, gray and rose wines from 2 Malagasy producers, Clos Malaza and Grand Cru d’Antsirabe, in the 12.000 to 14.000 range.

Antsahavola, 22 642 33

Chez Francis **

Restaurant cum hotel close to Ile Rouge.

22 613 35

L’Avenue in the Hotel Tana Plazza **

Unpretentious and good hotel restaurant. Not as chic and trendy as the Café de la Gare, which is just opposite, good restaurant food is being served in the main room and on the covered terrace. L’Avenue has the same wine card as the Brasserie in the Hotel de France, which includes 3 different traditional wines from Madagascar (each as rouge, blanc, rose). In terms of food, the prices are a tiny bit lower than those at the Hotel de France.

Avenue de l’Independence, 22 218 65

La Brasserie in the Hotel de France **

A nice brasserie/restaurant in the Hôtel de France, serving good, traditional brasserie food. For lunch, a daily changing 3 course menu (entrée, plat du jour, dessert) for Ariary 19.000 is served.

Good wine list, dominated by French wine. In addition, La Brasserie has 3 Malagasy wines (each as rouge, blanc and rose) on the list, all for Ariary 19.400.

Avenue de l’ Independence, 22 213 04

La Muraille de Chine **

A Chinese place that has been around for decades and has not changed much. Large Chinese, but also French and Malagasy menu, at reasonable prices.

A rather large list of Bordeaux wines in the Ariary 30.000 to 40.000 range.

Avenue de l’ Independence, 22 230 13

Le 31 Rotisserie **

Opposite to the Glacier on the Avenue d’Independence, this new restaurant is not easy to find. You have to walk up several stairs and then you arrive in a kind of back room, which does not look very inviting. Still, the Chef and owner has returned from Toulouse after spending 30 years there and in Toulouse and is aiming high by, inter alia, offering Specialites Sud Ouest.

Avenue de l’Independence, Analakely

Le Bureau Pub **

A simple Pizzeria, Cyber Café opposite to the Hotel Chez Francis, run by a French guy. Pizzas are all for Ariary 10.000. Le Bureau Pub also offers snacks and sandwiches.

Ambondrona, Rue Rainandriamampandry

Le Jean Laborde **

Cosy and small brasserie in the Hotel Jean Laborde with an extensive and basic brasserie menu. Nice bar area. Very limited selection of wines.   I have rarely seen people there.

Isoraka, 22 330 45

Le Relais de la Haute Ville **

A decent restaurant in a beautiful location in the Haute Ville part of Antananarivo. It is not really on the list of the French cooperants and tourists. I once had lunch there on the terrace. Service was slow, but the food was good.

Haute Ville 22 604 58

Les Trois Metis **

Hotel cum restaurant in the building where once the American Embassy was. A bit off the beaten track. I still have to check it out.

22 359 83 / 033 05 520 20

L’Orion **

En face Auximad Antsahavola

034 84 129 29

Lokanga Boutique Hotel Table d’Hote **

Lokanga Boutique Hotel advertises itself as “Hotel de Charme avec Table d’Hote.” I you want to eat there, you have to order 24 hours in advance; I understand they use La Boussole as caterer.  Still, the view from the terrace is breathtaking.

Haute Ville 00 261 32 03 530 70

Nirvana **

A lunch place in an office building in Ivandy. Large menu with something for everyone. Large selection of pizzas, salads, French bistro food, Malagasy food and Indian food. Prices are a bit on the high side, compared with what they offer, but this is due to the location in an affluent area.

No wine.


O! Fosa **

A new restaurant in Antanimena that apparently aims high, but which was closed when I wanted to have dinner there. The restaurants has a capacity of 50 couverts. Blanquette de veau, Boeuf Bourguignon, Calmar Sautés à l'Ail et les Camarons en Rouclade are the specialties of Chef Michel Randrianjafy, who before joining in 2009, used to work for Le B’ and Rossini.

Antanimena 261 34 07 185 47 Ave. Rainizanabololona

Radama **

A restaurant focusing on Malagasy cuisine only, for the Sakafo Malagasy. I like the formule plat du jour for Ariary 4.000.

Isoraka, 22 319 27

Savanna Café **

A typical French Brasserie, far away from Antananarivo center, next to the Airport. Has a comfortable bar area and a nice deck with a beautiful view. The Brasserie is open 7/7 from 6:30 in the morning to 23:00 in the evening.

The food is typical French brasserie food, with most dishes in the Ariary 15.000 range.

Only French wines, limited selection, but reasonably priced: mostly in the Ariary 32.000 to 35.000 area. Most wines are also available en verre and en pichet.

Mandrosoa Ivato Fitroafana Rte Aeroport, 034 07 760 29

Thai Foods **

A recommendation of my daughter Cornelia and her fiance Chris: Does not have the ambiance of the Ozone, but the food is definitely superior. Prices are very reasonable. Cornelia likes the Papaya salad for Ariary 6.000.

No wine.

Route Circulaire

1 Star

Shanghai *

A very basic place that has been there for many decades, where you can eat Chinese food for lunch or dinner in the Ariary 6000 to 9.000 range. A large selection of Chinese dishes. I used to go there for lunch, as the office of the IMF was just around the corner.


Alt Muenchen *

The meeting point for the German expatriate community. On the road to Ambohimanga on the left side after Analamahitsy.

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