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. 

Paris by Mouth special report on haute cuisine in Paris | In total, during our anonymous visits to sixteen restaurants that specialize in haute cuisine (more background about how & why we did this here), I tasted more than 200 dishes. Here I’ve selected my favorite bites, including 2 amuses-bouche, 5 first courses, 5 main courses, 5 desserts, and 3 mignardises.

The 20 Best Bites of Haute Cuisine in Paris

Opening Acts (amuses-bouche)

Foie gras, spice bread, mango jelly (Le Cinq)
Le Cinq: foie gras, spice bread, mango jelly
Assorted veggie cups (L'Arpège)
L’Arpège: assorted vegetable cups

First Courses

Noix de coquilles saint-jacques, taillées au couteau, relevées au jus d'huîtres, chantilly citron curry Pierre Gagnaire)
Pierre Gagnaire: carpaccio of line caught sea bass with chestnuts and celery
Gratin d'oignon sturon à la reinette du Mans (apple), parmigiano reggiano (L'Arpège)
L’Arpège: onion gratin with diced apple and Parmigiano Reggiano
Gratinée d'oignons contemporaire - gel buttons that ooze liquified sweet onion
Le Cinq: contemporary onion gratin – gel buttons that ooze liquified sweet onion
Chaud-froid d'oeufs coque et mollet au céleri, caviar golden (L'Ambroisie)
L’Ambroisie: Egg two ways with celery and golden caviar
Ledoyen: butternut squash with bread mousse
Ledoyen: butternut squash with bread mousse

Main Courses

Concentré iode - marinated scallop, oursin, coral crumbles, dots of algae (green) and litchee (pink)
Le Cinq: marinated sea scallop with sea urchin, coral crumbles, and reductions of algae & litchee
Galette de Saint-Jacques au poivre de Sarawack, cailette bretonne; consommé de topinambour au tapioca (Pierre Gagnaire)
Pierre Gagnaire: caillette from Brittany with a “cake” of sea scallops in a broth of Jerusalem artichoke with tapioca
Escalopines de Bar à l'émincé d'artichauts nage réduite au caviar golden (L'Ambroisie)
L’Ambroisie: Sea bass with artichokes swimming in golden caviar
Challans duck, foie gras poached in Rivesaltes, crispy pear
Ledoyen: Challans duck, foie gras poached in Rivesaltes, crispy pear


Pierre Gagnaire: poularde roasted with caraway, tamarind jus, green lentils, turnips & cabbage


givré laitier au gout de levure (yeast)
Le Cinq: iced milk with yeast (it’s better in French – givré laitier au gout de levure)
Chocolate from their own Manufacture (Le Meurice)
Le Meurice: chocolate from their own Manufacture


Agrumes de chez Michel Bachès en amertume, granité campari (ADPA)
Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenée: Bitter citrus from Michel Bachès with Campari granita

Pierre Gagnaire restaurant in Paris |

Pierre Gagnaire restaurant in Paris |
Pierre Gagnaire: Bûche de Noël


Madeleines (Astrance)
Astrance: madeleines
Kouign Amman (Le Cinq)
Le Cinq: kouign amman
Assorted mignardises (L'Arpège)
L’Arpège: assorted mignardises


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