Mensae

Mensae currently holds the #3 ranking in our list of favorite Modern & Creative Restaurants in ParisIn a simple dining room, way up on the Belleville hill and not far from the sprawling Buttes-Chaumont park, some of the best bistro fare in Paris is being served. Comfort food like frogs’ legs dripping in garlic butter and crispy pork belly with braised cabbage share space on the menu with brighter fare like confit trout with beets and horseradish, or a falling-apart lamb shoulder with creamy beans and preserved lemon. There’s a lunch menu at €20, a three-course dinner menu for €36, and a wine list with many good bottles for less than €35 – all of which make this an exceptional value for Paris. 

Our Favorite Three Star Restaurants in Paris

In discussing the three-star restaurant L’Ambroisie, which ranks among the most expensive in the world, people often bring up a quote by chef Bernard Pacaud. “Someone’s first meal here is never their best,” he once said. “It takes at least two or three meals for us to learn the customer and for the customer to learn us.”

This was true for food blogger Adam Goldberg, who wrote a scathing report of his first meal at L’Ambroisie. After returning more than twenty times, however, he declared “I am now certain that this is the finest French restaurant in the world.”

The 20 Best Bites of Haute Cuisine in Paris

Haute cuisine is not exclusively about what’s on the plate. Elaborately choreographed service, the spectacular number of dishes, the depth of a wine cellar and sumptuous surroundings – these are arguably the elements that separate restaurants with two and three Michelin stars from their starless competitors.

If we look exclusively at the food, however, ignoring the chandelier that twinkles overhead and the plush pedestal propping up our handbags, there is still much to celebrate in haute cuisine. 

Behind the Curtain: Examining Haute Cuisine in Paris

More than 100 years ago, a tire company named Michelin began telling people about their best options for eating while motoring around the country. Travelers wanted to know what was worth a detour or a special journey, and that’s still the case today. The question I’m most frequently asked by our readers is where to go for a special blow-out meal. You want to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, a victory. You want to seal a deal, whether business or pleasure. You’re willing to drop some cash, but you don’t want to feel like a fool.

Until now, I’ve had a hard time answering this question. I know well the landscape of the city’s classic bistrosmodern French restaurants, and food-loving wine bars, but this class of two- and three-star tables is a different terrain entirely. There’s an obvious barrier to understanding these restaurants: the staggering, outrageous, almost immoral price of a meal. Prior to this project, in which I anonymously tested every three-star restaurant in Paris over a period of twelve weeks, I had only visited a handful.