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Opened in 1997, Cafe Alsace is one of those cozy mom-and-pop places that have become all too rare in Atlanta. Just steps from Decatur Square, it occupies a narrow storefront on Ponce, filled with a quirky miscellany of artifacts, and the aromas of homey French cooking.
If you have ever had the benefit of traveling the region between Germany and France and you now pine for the incredible food of the region, then reserve a relaxed evening to visit Cafe Alsace. It's a regular haunt for Francophiles and Anglophiles alike.
Everything here is fresh, the bread is baked daily, the herbs are freshly prepared, and the atmosphere is convivial and enchanting.
As we usually bring friends and relatives here, we start with two to three appetizers. The Pate du Chef is a savory chicken pate served with French baguette slices and pickles, that I simply cannot pass by before the entrees arrive, and I say this being no big fan of liver. The Tarte a l'oignon is a rich onion tart that simply warms your heart, and the appetizer that everyone unanimously scarfs down is the Escargots, served in garlic & parsley butter - they cannot be beat.
If you get a salad, be sure to try the fig & honey vinaigrette or the Herbs de Provence, both are spectacular.
For an Alsatian specialty, the preferred dish of my friends is Spaetzle à l'alsacienne, homemade spaetzle noodles baked with ham, onions, and cheese. Other spaetzles available include the "fruits de mer" seafood dish, and a vegetarian option, "Spaetzle aux champignons", spinach and mushrooms.
Another Alsatian favorite is the Choucroute Garnie, sauerkraut cooked in vin blanc with three kinds of wholesome sausage, gypsy (smoked) ham, and red potatoes. This dish is a staple of the region that really takes me back.
I usually order the specials, but a favorite standard is the Boeuf Wellington, where the tenderloin is enclosed in a sumptuous pastry with mushrooms with a red wine sauce.
If you fancy chicken, I highly recommend the "Poulet farci aux mangues", moist and tender chicken breast stuffed with mangoes and cranberries with a pineapple glaze.
Of the desserts, we have sampled repeatedly the Glaces Maison, a honey and lavender ice cream that simply transports your soul to the heavens and the always-delightful Creme brulee.
To go over the finer points, you must note that this is a very real Alsatian restaurant, where dinner is not to be rushed through on the way to a movie. This is a place to bring great acquaintances, friends, or relatives, where the entertainment is the food, the atmosphere, and the conversation.
We were fortunate to find this gem of an establishment, as well as meeting Benedicte, one of the founders of the restaurant. Decatur and Atlanta are the better for entrepreneurs such as her.
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