From the shabby-chic decor to the peeling couture posters on the outer brick wall, Z Cuisine captures the ambience of another time and place. Despite its location in uber-hip LoHi, Z maintains a low-key charm and old-world pace, even when packed to the rafters. This could be because owner Patrick DuPays places as much emphasis on his bar program as on his seasonal menu of traditional French cuisine shot through with playful modern touches. An absinthe-based cocktail whets the appetite for buttery Hudson Valley foie gras, a can't-miss favorite to linger over while deciphering the curly handwriting on the specials board. Standards like the salade gourmande — layered with various pork and duck tidbits — may appeal more to the offal lover than to the dieting nibbler, while hearty peasant dishes like cassoulet with duck confit and housemade andouille satisfy the soul as well as the appetite. DuPays's neighborhood masterpiece perfectly accentuates the subtle commonalities between the Denver and Parisian lifestyles: quality without pretension, gracious service that never approaches stuffiness, and a gusto for life that embraces new experiences and familiar treasures.