We understand why Cafe D'Alsace is popular: it's quaint, cute, and casual, in an area that's truly lacking in inexpensive neighborhood haunts. That said, though Cafe D'Alsace is moderately priced, we don't really think you get a lot of bang for your buck. The atmosphere is uncomfortably crowded and noisy, and the food is inconsistent. What's more, the sloppy food runners and busboys, and the low-level plastic to-go bags, bring the overall dining experience down to a sub-standard level. Personally, we'd rather spend our money at a great cheap-eats downtown. Try the Pamemousse cocktail or cassoulet.
Modeled after a typical French brasserie, Cafe D'Alsace is an intimate space with rustic tile floors, simple wood tables and chairs, and a tres French mustard and dark-red color scheme. Large mirrors and tall French doors make the space appear larger, and colorful French posters adorn the walls. Tables are very small and cramped, and the banquette tables are so close together you may inadvertently knock an item or two from your neighbors' table on the floor as you slide in and out to go to the restroom. At peak times, the restaurant is extremely noisy.
Service was friendly and peppy, though maybe a bit too peppy for our taste. Food runners were a little sloppy and rushed and the restaurant was so crowded we kept being bumped by the busboys, which was annoying.
Though the food at D'Alsace is generally well-received, we found it to be blotchy and inconsistent. An brilliant Pamemousse cocktail ($11) of muddled grapefruit, gin, lemon, and Campari was refreshing and bright, with a tangy sweetness, and warm baguettes were delicious, but served with butter that was too cold. The Tarte Alsacian starter ($8.50) had a crust that was way too thick, and reminded us of Domino's Pizza, and gnocchi ($8.75) was baked in a tarte and had a deep rich flavor of gruyere, but a slightly burnt crust. The steak tartar ($11.50) was too heavy on the mustard and the salad was over-dressed. The one standout that we had was the traditional Cassoulet ($21) which was complex and rustic, with tender duck sausage, fragrant fresh herbs, al dente white beans, and lots of garlic. Our leftover food was brought in an ugly, green plastic sack.
It difficult to tell how clean it was, or wasn't, but it looked adequate. The bathrooms were fine, with a very cool communal sink.
Charming bistro décor, excellent cocktail and reasonable prices for New York City.
Too busy, too cramped, too noisy, some sloppy service, inconsistent food.