There is no real “Michel” behind La Cave à Michel – the name of this lively, standing-room-only Belleville wine bar uses the name in its French sense of “everyman.” And indeed, the bar is as welcoming and informal as its product standards are rigorous and precise. The product of a friendly collaboration between caviste Fabrice Mansouri and Romain and Maxime Tischenko, the brothers behind next door tasting-menu restaurant Le Galopin, La Cave à Michel rivals the Left Bank’s L’Avant Comptoir for the best Parisian cuisine you’ll eat standing up. Romain Tischenko reins in his more maximalist impulses in the bar’s tiny kitchen, and turns out small plates of jewel-like delicacy: beef tartare beneath ricotta salata, bass céviche, or mozzarella with salmon roe. Mansouri’s selection of natural wines is well-considered and well-priced. If service can become a little sluggish at times, it’s because the bar is reliably packed with restaurant industry regulars and Mansouri has a gift for banter. Serious cuisine is rarely this fun.
— Aaron Ayscough, January 2016
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