They don’t call it the gastronomic capital of the world for nothing. Paris is studded with Michelin stars and gastronomic; whether you’re celebrating a birthday or going out on an extra-special date, these are the places to head to. If you’re not a fan of steep bills and lengthy waiting lists, aim for a lunch reservation – our recommended restaurants generally offer discounted lunchtime menus. In all cases, though, booking ahead is advised. Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
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This former bo bun spot that has been converted into a rock ‘n’ roll bistro by the young chef Mauricio Zillo. Though the décor is fairly standard (big wooden tables, black and white tiles, hanging lamps and a large bar), the food on the plates is something else. The menu changes daily and features three starters, three mains, and three desserts. The veal tongue dish, called ‘Scarlet, Green, Grey’ is sublime, as is the tender veal stew with smoked sausage. Our dessert, a surprising fusion of pears, Brocciu cheese and caramel, is less exciting but nevertheless, we’ll definitely be coming back.
Eager journalists have already spilled a lot of ink over chef David Toutain's eponymous restaurant since it opened in December 2013. For those who aren't in the know, Toutain attracted considerable attention in the kitchens of Agapé Substance a few years back, before fleeing the capital for some culinary capers abroad. The grand opening in December was therefore bolstered by a sense of homecoming.
Chef Sylvain Sendra played to a full house every night at his little bistro Le Temps au Temps near the Bastille before moving to this larger space near Notre Dame. The sleek space brings together all the elements that make for a successful bistro today: a long table d'hôtes, a bar for solo meals or quick bites, and a reasonably priced, market-inspired menu. Not everything is a wild success, but it's hard to fault a chef who so often hits the mark, in dishes such as squid-ink risotto with clams, botargo (dried mullet roe) and tomato.
The men behind the scenes at La Table d’Eugène – Geoffroy Maillard and François Vaudeschamps – are both talented and driven, cooking up magnificent food using simple flavours, all skilfully assembled and beautifully presented. Expect dishes like blue shrimp in a walnut crust, or ravioli of Bresse chicken with foie gras and morel mushrooms in a wine, cream and foie gras sauce. Desserts keep up the high standard: rice pudding, lemon tart with meringue, sorbets and the peerless perle surprise au chocolat. The cooking won’t fail to impress, especially with its affordability: set menus are €30 or €38, and tasting menus of five courses (€58) and seven courses (€78).
This Paris institution is regaining its lustre following the death of aged owner Claude Terrail in 2006. In the kitchen, Breton-born Stéphane Haissant has brought a welcome creative touch to the menu, bringing in unique dishes such as a giant langoustine dabbed with kumquat purée and surrounded by lightly scented coffee foam. But he also shows restraint, as in duck (the house speciality) with cherry sauce and a broad bean flan.
In a modern-day gastronomic and architectural fairy tale, avant-garde Spanish designer Jaime Hayón and chef Antonin Bonnet, formerly of Mayfair’s The Greenhouse, have rescued a former pub on the Ile St Louis from a future of tourists and bad beer and turned it into a princess among restaurants. Stone walls and a medieval-inspired décor are finished with modern white and green touches that work with the changes in daylight.
You’d expect the cooking of France’s only Japanese chef with a Michelin star (two, to be precise) to be something a little out of the ordinary. But it’s not just what’s on the plate at Passage 53 that holds the attention. Shinichi Sato, who trained at l’Astrance in Paris and Mugaritz in Spain, has found the ideal space in which to showcase his talents, with this tiny space in one of Paris’s most charming locations – the eighteenth century glass-covered shopping mall Passage des Panoramas.
All done out in wood, metal and stone, with bouquets of flowers and an open kitchen at the back, Saturne is a calming space. The cooking shows a similar talent for detail and harmony with flashes of inspiration – the chef and the sommelier, Sven Chartier and Ewen Lemoigne, work hand in glove to pair fine ingredients and natural wines. For €40 at lunch and €60 at dinner (or €65 for a six course tasting menu/€120 for wine matching), you’ll find a balance between élan and elegance.
The Faubourg Saint-Antoine area has been making waves on the food scene for quite a while: Rue de Cotte, Rue Trousseau, the Marché d’Aligre and lots of other little streets offer an excellent range of good things to eat, and since the Rue Charonne's latest makeover, the area is more than ever on the up. Graphic arts bookshops and trendy boutiques proliferate, so it’s no surprise to fine Bertrand Grébaut’s latest restaurat venture here.
Shang Palace doesn’t disappoint with its subtle Asian décor (think marble tables and a carpet patterned with a Hokusai print) and a vast menu of dishes from the Canton and Huaiyang regions of south-east China. In the kitchen, chef Samuel Lee Sum refines classic flavours, presenting meticulously crafted and absolutely divine plates. Order the soft red rice pancakes and delicate shrimp spring rolls, as well as the crispy Peking duck served with rice pancakes and a brown sauce. The menu’s range can be overwhelming so opt for one of the set menus (starting at €52) or ask the server for help.