Cafe d'Alsace: Franck ist Up-Gefuckt
Guten Morgen! Heute Franck Bruni hat eine shöne Böner für Café D’Alsace! In fact, Frank had this Böner ) ">several weeks ago, but now, he’s positively certain about it: Café D’Alsace is better than it should be, “a solid neighborhood restaurant with a claim to distinction beyond its neighborhood.” And that distinction is a roster of over 110 different beers and a “beer sommelier” to usher you amongst them.
This place was on my To-Try list for some time, until I realized it was on the [insert confused scowl] Upper East Side. I’m not…I don’t…How do I even?...
Jules’ image of the Upper East Side.
I’m just kidding! I know that’s not really what the Upper East Side is like.
Actual image of the Upper East Side.
(Gonna get letters for that one. Sigh.)
While today’s review was alarmingly written in prose (as opposed to last week’s), it’s not without its mangled-yet-adorable linguistic stepchildren.
Frank opens with a frantic olfactory search for traces of clove in a Belgian Leffe beer:
“I searched my palate for what was behind the orange or maybe in front of the orange or possibly on the side of the orange.”
But did ya check between the oranges?
Oranges, pumpkins, who’s counting?
Alas, he never finds what he’s looking for:
“No clove, at least not for me. But I was having what I suppose I should describe as a heady time rooting around for it.”
“Heady” is Frank’s adorable euphemism for “shit-canned.” Sort of like how Hemingway daintily refers to himself as “tight” all the time but really he’s six frozen margaritas to the wind, wandering a rive gauche gutter and firing his rifle to the chorus of "The Electric Slide." Or, fine, "The Gas-lit Slide."
“I woke up next to a leapoard. The leopard was wearing my underpants. It was a good leopard. I liked the leopard. It was a fine and good leopard in my underpants and I liked it.”
But it’s not all about the brew-dogs here--
“Subtract the obscure ales at Café d'Alsace and you still have a very appealing restaurant…. Put them back into the equation and you have something special…”
Awwww. And he said it without any silly puns!
“Café d'Alsace won't just be beer today and gone tomorrow.”
Oops! Spoke too soon!
The place belongs to Simon Oren (of Marseille and Nice Matin), a savvy ruler who “made a career of colonizing needy neighborhoods with the likes of steak frites and crème brûlee.”
You should see what he did in Southeast Asia with chicken paillard and flourless chocolate cake.
Chef Philippe Roussel offers the perfect menu to counterbalance all that light, non-filling beer: choucroute, marrow bones, and “baeckeoffe, a traditional Alsatian casserole with bacon, lamb, oxtails and no small measure of potatoes. I suppose it's for diners who find the choucroute garnie too dainty,” specifically this man:
“Dude, that shit’s gay.”
Café d’Alsace isn’t completely perfect:
“I encountered a few too many dishes, including a wanly flavored veal breast and a gummy beer-braised lamb shank, that weren't really for anyone.” Really? Not for ANYONE?
“I'm sorry but that veal breast is way too wan. I’ll stick with my gruel, thanks.”
I don’t even know what to say about this one: “If tuna is the chicken of the sea, frog's legs are the chicken wings of the haute pond.” Except that I hope to see it on the Totally Nuts Analogy section of the SATs come 2007. Give the kids some PCP and I bet they'll get it right.
In the end, Frank has a warm, fuzzy feeling for this place in his heart (after all the beer, that fuzzy feeling will soon migrate to his colon no doubt), warm enough to drunkenly grant 2 stars. “I got a buzz from the surroundings…. Let's face it: I also got a buzz from the beers.”
You know what? Sometimes, that's what fine dining's all about.