Best French Restaurant - 2003
Readers' Choice: Le Central
Le Central is the sort of place everybody pictures when they're daydreaming of a meal at the perfect French cafe. And Le Central doesn't just look that way; it tastes that way, too. In Robert Tournier's cozy bistro, the true heart of French cuisine is honored every night by a kitchen that knows exactly what it's doing. Escargot en brioche, soup à l'oignon, steak frites, sandwiches des lardons -- all the classics are here, at both lunch and dinner, and even though the menu changes every day, we've never had a bad meal inside these walls. From the house-baked breads and decadent desserts to the incredible mussels, everything tastes like it's coming directly to your table from a Parisian street cafe. Since the kitchen is cooking straight from an un-garnished version of the French culinary rulebook, don't expect to see a lot of lemongrass or frisee on the menu. There's no fusion here, no influence other than a thousand years of gastronomic research. Le Central serves pure French food done extraordinarily well.