Good Deals -- Zucco: Le French Diner

Jimmy and I stumbled upon Zucco: Le French Diner a while back, and it quickly turned into one of my favorite places in the city. A teeny-tiny place with lots of French attitude, it's colorful, crowded, and always tasty. Admittedly, I'm always drawn to Le Merguez De Barbes (lamb sausage, roasted red pepper, and harissa on a super-fresh baguette, served with fries). It has a nice spicy kick and super-fresh flavor, which, for me, makes the sandwich completely addictive.

The first time I went there we sat at the bar, and were completely amazed by the goings on in the kitchen. Every single thing that zoomed passed us looked beautiful. That night, the snow peas and carrots were gorgeous, so we ordered a side to sample. They were absolutely perfect. Since that initial visit I've shared the cheese plate, tasted the salmon (marvelous), and Le Poulet De Belleville sandwich (chicken, goat cheese, and ratatouille, perfectly balanced).

The wine by the glass is inexpensive, though like the venue, the pours are tiny. If you're eating with friends, you're probably better off buying a bottle.

Yesterday, celebrating Nancy's birthday, I finally tried one of Zucco's desserts. She chose the crème brulée, and it was out of this world. The thick crust was nutty and full of flavor, and the custard was astonishingly tasty, with hints of vanilla and orange essence (I think?). It was kind of unbelievable, and we both agreed that it was the best we'd ever had.

Zucco: Le French Diner is at 188 Orchard Street, south of Houston. It's open from noon to midnight, give or take a few minutes...

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