BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT - 2006
Readers' Choice: Le Central
Z Cuisine is a warm little bistro that's like a perfect fantasy of Paris, requiring no passport, no baggage, no feigned appreciation of the films of Jerry Lewis or Gerard Depardieu. We love the old iron gate hanging open by the front door, the fact that there's nothing else on this quiet block save a few old houses and a dark, silent church looming against the dark sky. The crowds come and go all night, laughing, sometimes stumbling, clutching each other close in the shadows, and the food is an ideal expression of farmhouse French done in a thousand spots in Paris, tens of thousands of kitchens in France. The wine, the food, the staff, the company -- everything is in perfect alignment at Z Cuisine. In fact, the only things missing from this idyllic scene are the Gauloises-smoking French, the pall of their yellow cigarette smoke hanging around the high ceiling, and the bells tolling the hour as it grows later and later.