Best French Restaurant - 2005
Brasserie La Cigale
The latest relentlessly trumpeted diet plan? To stay chic and slender as any Frenchwoman, you have to eat like one. And that plate of escargots with mushrooms, garlic cream sauce, and chives, the one that promises to melt away unwanted pounds like magic, is waiting for you at 4-year-old Brasserie La Cigale. Executive Chef Farid Oualidi turns out classic retro dishes like sole meunière ($34), caesar salad, cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs, $11 -- sounds better in French, doesn't it?), and the euphoniously euphemistic "sweetbreads" ($10). These elegant dishes are balanced with subtle butter,- wine-, shallot-, and cream-laden sauces of great art and complexity. And if all this sounds a bit rich, consider that Cigale's canards are served in a setting so cozy, relaxed, and unpretentious that you could be tucking into a plate of Julia's very own moules (may that blessed lady be forever sautéeing chickens in heaven). "Life itself is the proper binge," Mrs. Child once said. Bien sur, even better if life contains plenty of foie gras with black currant sauce.