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Mar 8, 2011 05:36 PM

What is/are the 'Best' Michelin 2 Star restaurant(s) in Paris?

Taking cue from the 3 star thread that turned out VERY readable:

As far as 'Best' has meaning in this context of course. free range of factors, value, ingredients, techniques, innovation, service, etc. etc.

Please have at it, Merci!

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  1. since Jamin is now closed, I vote for the Club Menu at Rostang for lunch. Best value for sure and really good cooking just not much gold and marble as at the palace restaurants.

    1 Reply
    1. re: f2dat06

      Their quenelles de brochet are as good as it gets.

    2. There are many more two star restaurants than three. I'm not sure anyone can talk about them all. I know I don't.

      I like Rostang a lot, and it is typically a two stars: it is the best at what it does, and what it does is a slightly modernized version of a very ancient cuisine. Suffice to say that the great items are the truffle sandwich, the quenelle de brochet and the... gratin dauphinois!

      Of course le Cinq is a two stars, and it has it all, especially when it comes to lunch menu (though you need to chose carefully as some dishes sometimes lack inspiration or shouldn't be on the menu, like their osso bucco). Thing is, Briffard is a wonderful chef, his recipes are very complicated, so execution is sometimes an issue. Of course service and the room are out of this world, which means that, even when food is not at its best, you'll probably have a great time.

      The two Robuchon joints have some very good food. The one on rue du Pont-Royal is the best rotisserie in town, and you should not miss their sweetbread and other simple meaty dishes. The one now in the Drugstore Publicis is more classic and good at everything, with a great way with vegetables, are top steak frites, a wonderful fried whiting.

      Lasserre just changed chef, but it is a great place and the lunch menu is interesting. It has some "magic Paris" quality to it, and a sense of travel in time to the roaring fifties. But I haven't tried it since the new chef moved in.

      Senderens is another case of a pure genius chef with execution issues. It is also very unlike the other two stars because it feels almost more like a nightclub than a fine dining establishment. In fact, I think Senderens is the greatest French chef alive. When the kitchen delivers, the wine pairing are dazzling and the experience is unforgettable. In fact, anybody would like to try it again?

      I haven't tried the new stars: Passages 53 I'll try. Jean-François Piège @ Thoumieux, probably not. Did not like him at Ducasse's, did not like him at Les Ambassadeurs, why waste my time and money?

      To me Sormani, le Divellec and La Grande Cascade are worth two stars -- but that's me, not the Michelin.

      And, f2dat06, yes: Jamin was the bomb. Oh how I miss Benoit Guichard.

      21 Replies
      1. re: souphie

        Any analysis on the new two-stars, Passage 53 or Jean Francois Piege's place?

          1. re: souphie

            Hmm, actually (and perhaps presumptuously), I was hoping you could craft another winning post on those.

            1. re: Nancy S.

              Haven't been to P53 and don't like JFP.

              1. re: souphie

                Sorry, my mistake, I didn't read your first post carefully. Apologies.

                1. re: Nancy S.

                  Nah, I was actually editing it while you were reading.

          2. re: Nancy S.

            Good luck getting a res at JFP's! I forgot to call at 8:30 a.m. (two weeks ahead of time, the maximum they allow). At 12:30 I remembered, but by that time they were already fully booked. While languishing on the waiting list, I'll console myself with knowing that Souphie doesn't think it's worth trying... until the next opening in my calendar. Worse than Frenchie or Spring, this smacks of Nomiya!

          3. re: souphie

            Interesting. Two years ago for my birthday I went to my second 1star restaurant. Since then I've been to a few. Next year I want to hit for the 3stars, but I still have time to decide. So this year, as a natural transition I want to try a 2star restaurant.

            I was really intrigued by Senderens (with the whole deal of him rejecting his 3rd star), but I got to admit I don't like the "nightclub" description you've just made, and maybe will look more into Rostang.
            Can you elaborate more on what you mean bu "nightclub" ? I don't mind if it's not fancy and chic, but I do mind if the lights are very low and there is loud music !


            1. re: Rio Yeti

              There's no music at Senderens. That would be a no-go for me. But the lights are red and blue, and there's no tablecloth. There is late night service also. Not to mention a sophisticated bar upstairs.

              You can find pictures of all restaurants I mentioned at . Senderens for instance is at and at

              1. re: souphie

                Thank you.
                Indeed it looks a bit too nightclubish for my taste, but the food looks amazing... I'll think about it !

                Nice photos by the way.

                1. re: souphie

                  Thanks Souphie, Would you go a la carte at Senderens and Rostang? Your Senderens photos are not very recent, but I'm assuming the quality is still there.

                  And how come Pétrelle doesn't even seem to show up in the Michelin guide? Judging from what I've read on Chowhound, it sounds worthy of mention, no? One of those bistrots that you might say were actually worth the money?

                  Finally I wonder what people think about which of the two stars are best seasonally? I have no knowledge of the two stars, but if we were talking about the threes I would obviously say l'Arpege in the summer etc.

                  1. re: johannabanana

                    The exec chef at Senderens is Jérôme Bantel, former l'Ambroisie. He's good but the last few times I went he was clearly overwhelmed by the size of Senderens and quality was not always there. Desserts were always tip top. Indeed it's been too long since I went. Definitely go ALC, unless you like the proposed menu. At Rostang, the question prix fixe or ALC is a question of money: it's a very expensive restaurant ALC.

                    Le Pétrelle is not exactly the kind of restaurant that makes it in the Michelin. I'm sure the free cat is enough to disqualify them. Please note that Chez l'Ami Jean is not in the Michelin either (granted, it used to be and have a big gourmand, and Jégo actually kicked a few Michelin men out of his restaurant, but still...). It is in a few other guides though (see eg Not sure if it qualifies as a bistrot. There's tons of room, and, while there is <40€ menu, the real action is ALC and there we're talking 80€ per person. The wine list is very atypical (because it's made of wines bought in auctions) but has some absolute treasures at reasonable prices (like 30y old Bordeaux or Bourgogne for less than 100€)

                    1. re: souphie

                      That's interesting. We went to Senderens early on and were underwhelmed but may well go back. The food looks tempting. Put off slightly by the restaurant itself, that's all. As far as I can tell, ALC at Rostang starts at 169 euros p.p. correct? But that means you don't necessarily get the quenelle de brochet, I suppose.

                      1. re: johannabanana

                        The quenelle isn't expensive. The lobster, the duck, etc. are. The quenelle is always available in the lunch menu.

                      2. re: souphie

                        Your diversity of knowledge on the French dining scene is absolutely astounding. This thread and the three-star ones could serve as reference/search posts for about 1/2 the questions asked on chowhound France.

                        Is the canard at Rostang prepared by traditional press method?


                        1. re: uhockey

                          Yessir. Withe tableside carving and pressing of the carcass. It's actually a pretty strong dish, quite the aquired taste.

                          1. re: souphie

                            Is it better/worse/different at Rostang than at La Tour d'Argent?

                            Trying to decide if the view and duck are worth spending a meal at La Tour or if we'd be better off skipping it and just getting the pressed duck at Rostang.


                2. re: souphie

                  Passage 53 is very nice, I've had a wonderful lunch last november.

                  I found the food very "light" compared to what one can find at Le Cinq but they should not really be compared, they two completely different experience.

                  One thing that can be difficult for some is that Passage 53 only serve a fixed menu (and a lunch menu), so if you are not adventurous, it can be hard.

                  1. re: souphie

                    Must say Senderens was completely overlooked by me when I was making Paris reservations, but I'm questioning perhaps slotting it in - the menu looks excellent.


                    1. re: uhockey

                      Sharing as meal there with Souphie a few years back, found it to have great wine pairings and exceptional desserts. Otherwise very unremarkable.

                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        Would you suggest L'Atelier over it? I quite liked the Vegas Robuchons.


                  2. My favorite two star in Paris is Le Cinq. I have never been for dinner, but the lunch menu is a great experience at a great price, equaling or bettering many other three star experiences. I am surprised it has not earned a third star this year, but since I have never been for dinner or ordered an elaborate a la carte meal, I do not know how the highs compare to the highs of three stars.

                    Many of my most favorite meals have been at one star or two stars. L'Astrance (prior to their current status)...Auberge de L'ill in Lyon...Nicolas Le Bec....these have been beautiful, original, memorable meals with extraordinary food.

                    I have not found the differences between a two star and three star to be necessarily discernible. I do not believe that a three star will automatically be "better" than a two star. Perhaps the two stars are trying harder? Who knows. More likely, I suspect that subjectivity and variances in meals sometimes determines whether a place is deemed two or three star. Also, I prefer a more relaxed, contemporary elegance (L'Astrance, Gagnaire) to classic formality, perhaps Michelin does not.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: fishskis

                      I am by no mean an expert, and although passionate, it may take a while for me to have the opportunity to eat at all the fine restaurants you mention. However I can't help but notice something illogical in your statement.

                      You say you like relaxed contemporary elegance and Michelin does not, yet your examples (Astrance and Gagnaire) both have 3 Michelin stars, therefore apparently Michelin does enjoy this type of elegance as well... And as for your 2star rec (Le Cinq) isn't it the 2star restaurant furthest from relaxed ? I'm only basing this on posts I've read, so excuse me if I'm wrong but I understood that Le Cinq was "versaillesque" and therefore not very relaxed nor contemporary...

                      1. re: Rio Yeti

                        Le Cinq is not "Versaillesque". It is true that room is magnificent, with gold and flowers and deep carpets. And it is in no way contemporary. But the waiting staff is absolutely committed to your having a good time, like it is at Guy Savoy and Le Meurice. The more you interact with them, the greater the reward (also why I don't recommend Guy Savoy for large parties -- then you lose the main appeal of it).

                        1. re: Rio Yeti

                          Rio Yeti:

                          You need to read more carefully. There is nothing "illogical" in my post.

                          I did not say that Michelin does not like contemporary elegance; I merely said "perhaps" they prefer more classic formality. "Perhaps" means maybe. "Prefer" indicates a preference of one thing over another, but does necessarily mean that the second choice is not "liked". I would prefer a Ferrari over a Porsche, but I would be very happy with either one.

                          Le Cinq is a beautiful room in a grand hotel. But I do not find the hotel or the restaurant stuffy or overly formal. I have found the environment and the service to be relaxed and comfortable, with some details, such as the gorgeous floral arrangements, having a definite contemporary feel.

                          1. re: fishskis

                            I'm sorry about my post, the term "illogical" was a bit strong. I was just curious as to why when you say

                            "I suspect that subjectivity and variances in meals sometimes determines whether a place is deemed two or three star. Also, I prefer a more relaxed, contemporary elegance (L'Astrance, Gagnaire) to classic formality, perhaps Michelin does not."

                            Your examples are three star restaurants, and therefore do not really illustrate the fact that perhaps Michelin does not prefer a more relaxed, contemporary elegance.

                            This being said, and although I haven't been to those restaurants yet, I fully agree with your post, and think I would actually have quite similar tastes.

                            Again, sorry if my reply came out a bit strongly opinionated for no reason.