Septime currently holds the #1 ranking in our list of our favorite Tasting Menus under 100€. First, the bad news: you’re probably not going to get into Septime. Not unless you’re willing to call exactly three weeks before your desired reservation, and probably not even then. I hesitated in keeping Septime at #1 because of this difficulty, and also because my visits in 2015-2016 were fine but not great. However, a return visit in 2017 has left no doubt in my mind that Septime is still the best contemporary tasting menu in Paris. In particular, a dish of lobster with earthy boudin noir and tart wild strawberries provided a mind-bending and delicious jolt to every diner at our table. Beverage pairings are consistently brilliant, leaning heavily toward natural wines but without the ill-chosen funk we often encounter elsewhere. If you can’t get in, don’t despair – any of these other favorite tasting menus will treat you right. You can also visit Septime’s sister restaurant Clamato next door.
Le Chateaubriand currently holds the #4 ranking in our list of our favorite Tasting Menus under 100€. You can only reserve for the first seating at Le Chateaubriand. After that, you’ll have to wait in line from 9pm for a stab at Iñaki Aizpitarte’s no-choice tasting menu, a parade of provocative flavor pairings that has landed the restaurant on San Pellegrino’s 50 Best list for several years running. Whether you love or hate this restaurant may depend on your affinity for natural wine and improvisational cooking. We have had brilliant meals here, where every delicious dish taught us something new. We have been outraged, and we have been indifferent. You never quite know what to expect here, and that’s part of the fun. Just be sure to go with omnivorous friends who share that outlook.
Yam’Tcha currently holds the #2 ranking in our list of our favorite Tasting Menus over 100€. Universally praised Franco-Chinois fare from Adeline Grattard, and all but impossible to book. The restaurant moved to a new location at 121 rue saint Honoré, 75001 in June 2015 and converted their old space at 4 rue Sauval into a tea salon and to-go window selling delicious steamed buns (bao).
Verjus currently holds the #2 ranking in our list of our favorite Tasting Menus under 100€. I never tire of returning to Verjus, which has one of the most creative and affordable modern tasting menus in town. Chef Braden Perkins is self-taught, disciplined and obsessive. He makes time time for travel in order to take inspiration from chefs around the world, returning home to refine and personalize their best ideas. When he wasn’t happy with the produce available from local sources, he partnered with other chefs to cultivate a more direct network from farms in Normandy. The result of all this is a tasting menu that mixes a modest amount of meat or fish with some of the best vegetable creations I’ve ever tasted. Six very small dishes (snacks) are followed by homemade bread and butter, three more substantial dishes, and dessert for 78€. Perkins’ partner Laura Adrian has put together an incredible wine list that is heavy with organic and biodynamic producers, and her wine pairings for the tasting menu (55€) are spot on. On a practical note, there’s a private room that can be booked for 8-12 people, and the kitchen is known to accommodate a wide range of dietary issues with advance notice.
David Toutain currently holds the #5 position in our ranking of favorite Tasting Menus over 100€.
David Toutain, who brought acclaim to Agapé Substance before jumping ship back in December 2012, returned to the Paris scene with this signature restaurant in 2013. His meticulous and conceptual cooking highlights seasonal produce, with vegetables often playing the starring role. This is by no means a vegetarian restaurant, but Toutain’s ability to bring out the beauty in oft-ignored roots reminds us of his former boss Alain Passard.
Be sure to specify when booking that you’d like to be seated downstairs in the main dining room. They’ve recently added a number of small tables in a cramped and airless room upstairs near the bathroom. Surely these bring in more money, but dining there is another (far less interesting) experience altogether.
Frenchie currently holds the #5 ranking in our list of our favorite Tasting Menus under 100€. Frenchie was wonderful – so good that you felt you were getting away with something – back when it opened in 2009. Then the tiny restaurant landed on every journalists’ “best of” list and was featured in every food travel show you can name. It became difficult, very difficult, to get a table. It became a challenge to even get through on the phone. This is when people stop rooting for a restaurant. This is when people begin to wonder whether it’s worth it, and honestly, is any restaurant really worth begging and pleading for? We’ve heard so many disappointed rants about Frenchie from people who suffered to get their table and felt unrewarded for the effort. We sympathize, but that’s not how we experience Frenchie. We go for lunch on Thursday or Friday, when it’s relatively easy to book. Or we make plans to go to their wine bar across the street and pop in to let the restaurant hostess know that we’d be happy to swoop in if there are any no-shows (this often works). When you don’t have to struggle to get in, it’s possible to experience Frenchie in the way that Greg Marchand intended – as an extremely good neighborhood restaurant. At the end of the day, that’s all Frenchie is. It’s not a site for spiritual awakening or the missing key to your vacation. But we’re awfully happy every time we eat here, and we appreciate that it’s one of the few attention-soaked addresses that seems to be getting better each time we visit.
Address: 4 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 75005
Nearest transport: Cardinal Lemoine (10), Pont Marie (7)
Hours: Closed Sunday & Monday; Open Tuesday-Saturday for lunch and dinner
Reservations: Book a week or two in advance
Telephone: 01 56 81 94 08
Average price for lunch: 40-59€
Average price for dinner: 60-100€
Style of cuisine: Contemporary tasting menu
Website Facebook Book Online
Reviews of interest
Simon Says (2015) “Très sérieux et pas mauvais du tout.”
Not Drinking Poison in Paris (2015) “… with his “wine-selector” Lulie Kaori Tanaka, he has embraced natural wine wholeheartedly, breaking ground not just for his otherwise arch-conservative restaurant style but also for his neighborhood.”
Address: 20 rue du Louvre, 75001
Nearest transport: Louvre-Rivoli (1)
Hours: open every day
Reservations: Book a few weeks in advance
Telephone: 01 42 60 40 40
Average price for lunch: 60-100€
Average price for dinner: More than 100€
Style of cuisine: contemporary tasting menu
Website Facebook Book Online
Reviews of interest
Table à Découvert (2013) “Le vacherin au parfum de rose, de riz, de gingembre et de thé sencha. Si j’ai retrouvé avec plaisir tous les textures du vacherin (glacée, fondante, craquante), la délicatesse des notes était tellement poussée qu’elle m’a fait passer un peu à côté des parfums. Comme un parfum très, très léger qui se sent à peine sur la peau. Si je devais rester dans la métaphore du parfum, je dirais qu’il n’était pas assez capiteux à mon goût.”