Mon, 10am-11pm; Tue-Fri, 10am-midnight; Sat, 9am-midnight; Sun, 9am-11pm
4, 5, 6 at 86th St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Like Simon Oren's other popular French-themed establishments (Nice Matin, Marseille), Café d’Alsace boasts many of the cheery features that have helped make the ersatz bistro-brasserie model the dominant comfort formula of our age. There is the curved pewter bar (here with a ring of decorative, antique seltzer bottles suspended over the barflies' heads), and rows of tables jammed together, which, in summertime, will no doubt spill out onto the street. There is the meticulously tiled floor, which suggests equal parts bonhomie and old-fashioned good taste, and, of course, there are the posters on the wall, in this case ones depicting hoisted beer steins and other scenes evocative of old Alsace. Luckily, there is also a real live French chef in the kitchen at Café d'Alsace, and an accomplished one to boot, although Philippe Roussel, who last ran the very good midtown brasserie Montparnasse, is from Brittany, not Alsace. Several of the familiar staples of the French-American brasserie canon are on display here (charcuterie platter, foie gras terrine, a fine hanger steak and frites), but mostly Roussel (who is also a partner in the venture) peppers his menu with rib-sticking Alsatian specialties such as a tarte flambé (slightly weathered and overcrisped on the night I tried it); crocks of potée Alsatian swirling with white beans, cabbage, and nuggets of bacon; and big, heavy-artillery items like the famous Alsatian casserole called baeckoffe.Extra
True, "beer sommelier" is a ridiculous title, but Aviram knows his stuff. There are 100 beers on the list.Ideal Meal
Pork or duck sausage, $10; baeckoffe, $24; chocolate tart, $9