Zapp Brasserie’s executive chef, Rachid Kourda, sears and sautés French-inspired menu items upon order in an eclectic atmosphere dotted by antique décor and a wide-screen TV. Lobster-and-crab ravioli provide pillows for the grilled salmon as it lazes with potato croquette and cream of asparagus ($17), and a mountain of duck-confit fettuccini rolls under a dusting of shaved parmigiano reggiano ($17), inspiring tines to form cheese angels. Knives can carve into citrus chicken, allowing knife operators to take in its zest as it playfully flirts with an herb-roasted potato ($15), and slices of the steak frite sizzle in a bourbon-shallot reduction with pommes frites ($17) piled nearby. Diners can enjoy meals indoors around a fireplace or outdoors near the water of a swimming-pool bar, leaving only the last three of the five basic elements—earth, wind, and an up-to-date chemistry textbook—to be discovered during Zapp experiences.
Named after the face's smiling muscles, Les Zygomates—Boston magazine’s 2010 pick for Best Restaurant in the downtown/theater district neighborhoods—serves up French cuisine in authentic bistro ambiance inspired by its Parisian homeland. A skilled team of chefs and restaurateurs inspire joie de vivre on the eve of the new year with a three-course tasting menu that begins festivities with an elegant amuse-bouche and live jazz. For the first plate, diners have their pick of four options, including escargots en croute with a garlic-and-parsley butter or steak tartare with black truffle and a quail's egg purloined from a bewildered ostrich. After the intermezzo grapefruit sorbet refreshes taste buds, main plates present merrymakers with a quartet of choices. Chefs pan-sear scallops before trimming them in a Roman-style salsify with pernod and blood-orange gastrique or stuff guinea hens with a mix including dried fruits, brioche, sweet potato, and guinea-hen nesting dolls.
Parisian flavors inflect each bite of Pigalle's menu, which abounds with dynamic appetizers and surf 'n' turf entrees that have garnered accolades from Boston's top reviewers. A trip down the à la carte menu rewards foodies with delicious tangents such as the escargot bourguignon with a ramp risotto cake ($18) served with a soft fried egg quivering in slightly intimidated delight at its unaccustomedly high-status companions. Sweet-and-sour kumquats snuggle up to a crispy half duckling ($38) floating placidly amid fava-bean succotash and potato puree. The Angus sirloin ($44) spends the day with creamy potatoes before picking up sautéed spinach and crispy onions for an evening out on the white-plate dance floor. Homemade ice cream du jour ($6) or vanilla-bean crème brûlée ($8) dotted with blackberries and orange memorably punctuate any meal.
La Voile serves up authentic, stylish French cuisine in a cozy, elegant atmosphere. The restaurant’s extensive menu of flavorful fare is guarded by its duo of extensively trained chefs, both of whom have experience at restaurants such as Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse and graduated from culinary schools in France, where food was invented. Start with an appetizer of mussels in curry sauce ($12) before moving on to the meatier horizons of a pork chop served in its own juices with juniper berries on a bed of sauerkraut ($22). Mediterranean sea bass comes simply roasted with a beurre blanc sauce ($33), while crispy breast of duck is served a l’orange with a cinnamon glaze alongside fingerling potatoes and spinach ($26). The dessert menu’s warm pear tart ($9) and crème brûlée ($8) are available to complement taste buds’ post-prandial high-fives. Daychewers can also stop by for a midday munch from the lunch menu, including gnocchi “Caprese” ($12), a handful of hand-friendly sandwiches ($10.50–$13.50), and roasted organic chicken with potato purée ($17.50).
A common scene at The Wine Cellar: servers toting percolating pots of gruyere, emmental, or gorgonzola to diners, who in turn dip skewers of bread or potatoes into the steel cauldrons of melted cheese. This celebrated practice of submerging things into other, more scalding things isn't the only European tradition The Wine Cellar draws upon; its menu culls culinary influences from around the great continent, including France and Switzerland. In addition to sizzling up pots of oil or vegetable broth in which guests can cook their own beef, tiger shrimp, or rabbit, the chefs forge a spread of signature dishes, including tartifletes and roblochonnades, and pierrades made at the table in front of guests. They accompany this transatlantic fare with an international wine list, which sports hearty reds and delicate whites from vineyards and grocery-store aisles around the world.
Although the menu remains firmly rooted in the Old World, the dining room evokes classical American aesthetics. Exposed brickwork and wrought-iron lanterns surround the tables, and one wall sports a hand-painted mural of a Boston streetscape.
A decade ago, Chuck Silverston was walking the streets of Paris when he happened upon a street vendor whipping up crepes. After tasting the quintessential Parisian treat, he returned to the states and promptly opened Paris Creperie. Inside the cozy café, the kitchen churns out crepes brimming with savory ingredients such as brie and apples or sweet fillings such as graham cracker and cinnamon, as well as smoothies and coffee. Nutella is a mainstay on the menu, making its way into dessert crepes as well as into drinks such as hot chocolate and lattes. In the spirit of Chuck’s original street-vendor encounter, Paris Creperie also unleashes its food truck—la Tour Eiffel—among the hungry denizens of Brookline, feeding passersby with breakfast and dinner crepes all day.