Thursday, March 22, 2012

Restaurant Alberti

With a Groupon ticket , two for the price of one, I went around for lunch with a friend at the new Restaurant Alberti across from GAlerie Lafayette. 

  For years this restaurant was a fixture in Nice known as La Taverne Alsacienne.   I wrote a poem from there last August.  You might remember.

The Alsacienne restaurant was mostly about big mounds of sausages, potatoes and sour-kraut in it's former guise but not any more.  Now there is a traditional menu.  

  Somehow the brasserie decor and the crowded set up of the rooms was acceptable when it was just sausages but the new amateur grey-sponge-painted decor, with red banquettes is hackneyed and lacking in intimacy.    It looks like the owners slapped it together , in fact.   For example,  it was unfortunate to have a large amateur drawing of a very fat nude female over our heads (But I notice it didn't deter us from having a decadent dessert as part of our repast.)

When I arrived first, with my coupon, the waiter took me to a specific table on the upper tier.   The music was too loud and too bouncy at 12h30 when there were only a few tables occupied. 

 When my friend, Gail, arrived we were happy hidden away with our little table, but probably it was not considered a prime table.   The waiter was abrupt and I was disappointed that with my ticket there was only one choice for us :beef. 
 When I challenged this and asked for substitutions, the waiter sent the manager over who convinced me that I had paid for the lesser of the two offerings on Groupon and that was the brasserie lunch.   I was fine with that when I understood it.  It's just that I had eaten beef the day before while exploring a hamburger place new to my neighborhood.  Ah, well, bad timing.

  The three course brasserie lunch (which is a constant on the menu), consists of:

A mesclun salad with parmesan and pine nuts, 
  a tender sliced beef called "émincée de boeuf"  served with a big plate of frites and a good tarragon sauce. 

And with that is a wide choice of desserts.  

This is ordinarily a 25 euro lunch.  Wine is only sold by the glass for 4.50 euros or by the bottle , not by "picket" and that is not included.  We took a glass of rose each and split another glass later. 

As to service, the waiter started to rush us as soon as Gail sat down.  She had barely touched her seat before he had his pad out for the order.  But when we asked for him to wait and take his time between our courses he graciously accepted that and was just fine with the timing after that.  I think probably someone had told him that service was slow and he was trying to compensate or maybe they have come to regret the Groupon coupons.  

There are new traditional dishes like Pied de Porc and an array of meats and fish on the new menu.  I used to take the rabbit but it is not offered on the new menu.    I was surprised to see that most people around us were there for that Alsacienne dish full of sausages, ham etc.  It makes me wonder why the owners made the change to a traditional menu of which there are hundreds in Nice.  

In all we were quite pleased with our Bistro meal.  And the music did get softer and more appropriate. Maybe the sound was absorbed by all the bodies as both rooms did eventually fill up . 

We were offered anything from a big list of desserts.    I ordered the profiteroles which came swathed in whipped cream. 

 It was a mediocre pastry but I tucked in greedily because I will grovel for anything with chocolate sauce, ice cream and/or whipped cream.     Gail took the panna cotta with strawberries which I didn't even ask to taste, so piggy was I for my own plate. 


Would I go back to the Alberti?  I don't think so.   The price was on the high side and the menu and decor were uninspired.  I know where I can go nearby to dining rooms which are refined and pay the same or even less for a more varied menu.

  To be fair, though, the staff  only charged us 7 euros for 3 glasses of wine and finally we were given good service.  

We must have been having a good time because we were the last to leave.  ( French restaurants never chase you out ).   So maybe decor is not everything.    I'll keep my eye on them.  Maybe they just need to work it out.   

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