French chef Philippe Verpiand knows what it's like to work in a Michelin-starred restaurant — he's worked in several. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Étoile, which he opened with his wife, Monica, quickly gained a reputation as one of our city's finest French restaurants. The great thing about Étoile is that it doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is: an establishment dedicated to French classics. In the winter, you'll see boeuf bourguignon and cassoulet. In the summer, you get roast chicken and Provençal preparations of fish. His pâté is hand-made. His duck confit is deeply savory and très délicieux. Even his desserts are worth noting, like his signature apple tart. Thin, crisp and drizzled with caramel, it's a patisserie worth the calorie splurge. Verpiand has a hand in almost everything — he's one of those rare chefs whom you'll find working the line each night — and it shows, because his food is superb.