2010-07-21 / Restaurant of the Week

Pomme Cafe

This lovely French brasserie and patisserie, whose name means “Apple”, recreates the ambience of a Parisian eatery, complete with a prominent corner location, outdoor seating, and a cozy interior that features wood floors, a beautiful chandelier and a copper-topped bar with mirrors behind it. Tables for two to ten guests are handsomely dressed in starched white linens and tended to by a professional, friendly staff. Pomme Café is the ideal spot for a romantic dinner for two or a celebration among friends and family. There’s even a private room for parties up to 25 people with a separate bar.

The Café has assembled a very traditional French bistro menu and makes everything on the premises, including tantalizing desserts. French cuisine should be paired with a good bottle of wine and Pomme has an excellent selection of wines, many lining the walls of the dining room, starting at just $26 a bottle. In addition, the fully stocked bar mixes up creative cocktails before you start your meal, such as La Pomme cocktail shaken with Calvados, cider, honey, ginger, lemon and spices. The champagne punch is a must, especially at brunch, served Saturdays and Sundays. The Pernod Royale cocktail has a rich red color from fresh pomegranate juice. A nice selection of beers is also available, with Stella and Chimay on tap.

We started with tuna tartare, a mixture of finely chopped sushi-grade tuna, shallots and chives which was fresh and delicious. Tarte flambé is a type of thin pizza made in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France that is ideal for sharing as a first course. Onion, smokey bacon, herbs and créme fraiche top this crisp crust, cut up into handy little squares to pop in your mouth and enjoy ($10). House made country paté is one of my favorite French appetizers and this one is seasoned with sea salt and Armagnac and served with tiny pickles called cornichons and toast points ($8). Pomme Café has classic moules frites and these mussels were fresh and delicious, prepared three different ways. We tried the classic, with white wine, garlic and parsley and shared this as a first course, though one could order them as a main course, served with their incredibly authentic frites which are crispy and very addictive, so be warned. If you’ve never eaten escargots, try it here, prepared in garlicky butter sauce, meant to be soaked up with crusty bread. If you’re not so adventurous, the charcuterie plate offers slices of cured meats, or you can order the artisanal cheese plate with a choice of either three or five cheeses. This also makes a great late night treat, along with a bottle of wine and intimate conversation.

Salads at Pomme Café are substantial enough to make a meal, with kudos for the salade Nicoise, layered with sushi-grade tuna, hard boiled egg, French green beans called haricots verts, fingerling potatoes, tomatoes, hearts of palm and olives dressed with sherry vinaigrette. The American Cobb salad is made with organic greens and served in a platter made from cucumber slices ($13).

Entrées include meat, fish, poultry and vegetable dishes, so there’s something for everyone. I couldn’t resist the classic steak frites, cooked to perfection and topped with Bernaise sauce ($19). A thinner cut of steak called the Flatiron is topped with caramelized onions and red wine jus ($17). My dining companion enjoyed a confit of duck served on a bed of fresh brussel sprouts. Baby rack of lamb is a house favorite for its tenderness and sage jus, accompanied by haricots verts and artichokes ($22). I’ll be back when the weather turns cool for the beef bourguignon and roasted chicken, two fine examples of French comfort food.

Pan roasted trout almondine is a light and flavorful dish, as is the seared salmon with fresh summer corn and braised fennel ($16). Ask about the whole fish of the day, selected at the peak of freshness. Vegetarians will be happy to know there are several meatless options here including ratatouille, a slow-cooked vegetable stew made with eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomato and herbs. House made tagliatelle pasta is topped with smoked mushrooms, tomato and parmesan cheese ($15).

At lunchtime or dinnertime, a variety of sandwiches will tempt you. Our knowledgeable waiter raved about the shredded lamb sandwich served on a house made baguette with watercress and juicy tomatoes. Tender beef short rib sandwich is served on a Taleggio baguette with truffle mayonnaise, grilled onions and watercress. The Croque Monsieur is France’s version of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich on steroids, if you will!

It’s illegal to skip dessert in France, so don’t do it here either. The individual molten chocolate cake will have you drooling before it even arrives at your table. The chef also prepared light and puffy profiteroles topped with chocolate and Chantilly, classic tarte aux pommes (apple tart) and Grand Marnier créme brulee. The coffee is rich and robust to match this fine cuisine. Pomme Café has been invited to participate in the James Beard Foundation event called “Chefs and Champagne” to be held this Saturday at the Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Long Island, quite an impressive event.

Pomme Café is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from 11am until midnight. A relaxing brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 4pm, followed by dinner service. If you’re taking a “staycation” this summer, you can at least feel as if you’ve gone to France at Pomme Café, where traditional French bistro cuisine is served in a friendly, relaxing atmosphere. Ooh la la!
37-19 Broadway
Astoria • 718.545.4301

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