Magazine article The New Yorker

Cafe D'alsace; Tables for Two

Magazine article The New Yorker

Cafe D'alsace; Tables for Two

Article excerpt

1695 Second Ave., at 88th St. (212-722-5133)--Simon Oren, the owner of Nice Matin and Marseille, is the Dave Thomas of the New York bistro revival: not the originator (Keith McNally would be our Ray Kroc) but a distinguished and thriving practitioner all the same. The Upper East Side got a branch last spring. By night, Cafe d'Alsace is a clamorous brasserie, the unsightly acoustic tile on the ceiling doing little to muffle the treble din; by day, the atmosphere is dawdling and subdued. It's not as cozy as Cafe Luxembourg or as grandiose as Balthazar, but, in such close proximity to the likes of Elaine's and Pat O'Brien's, it fills the Francophile slot authentically enough to summon thoughts, if not visions, of the Maginot Line.

Although the place ably serves up the standards, steak frites and the rest, the innovation, for Yorkville anyway, is the array of heartier Alsatian offerings, many of which arrive in black cast-iron pots, like something a farm girl might sneak to a wounded soldier hiding out in the barn. (You also get Rambo-sized steak knives, in case the enemy stumbles in.) The baeckeofe, a traditional Alsatian lamb-and-oxtail casserole, is more than fortifying, especially if you've started out with a sausage plate or a preliminary hunk of bone marrow, which comes with toasted country bread and a bowl of salt. …

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