Brooklyn’s French Bistro Boom


Practice your parlez-vous francais because a crop of new restaurants, like Cafe Paulette in Fort Greene, have ushered in a new wave of French bistros in Brooklyn. Photo: Cafe Paulette.

Practice your parlez-vous francais because a crop of new restaurants, like Cafe Paulette in Fort Greene, have ushered in a new wave of French bistros in Brooklyn. Photo: Cafe Paulette.

We all know that French people love Brooklyn, but it looks like Brooklynites are finally learning to love the French. While the bistro is no newcomer to the American restaurant scene, in the past few months, we’ve seen Brooklyn embrace its own version of the bistro: classic French cafes with a flair for the local, urban and well…Brooklyn-y. Here are four of our favorites.

1. Pompette, Carroll Gardens
550 Court St. (at 9th Street); 718.625.2829

The southernmost strip of Carroll Gardens, right before the industrial nexus of the BQE, Gowanus Canal and elevated F/G line, has become the unlikely locale for Brooklyn’s best refined-casual dining scene, with Buttermilk Channel, Prime Meats, Frankies Spuntino and now, Pompette. Japanese-born, French-by-marriage, Brooklyn-residing owner Kumiko Terao has created a bright and comfortable neighborhood spot, keeping the atmosphere laid back while bringing on Daniel Boulud-trained chef Matt Bernero to get creative in the kitchen. The menu is a delicious mix of bistro classics like beef tartare with egg yolk and steak frites with duck fat fries, as well as more creative fare such as pillow-y potato gnocchi served in a trumpet mushroom broth with shaved black truffles, an heirloom hen egg and grana padano. A $58 five-course tasting menu lets you see the chef’s innovative side without getting too crazy-over-the-top, while the three-course “menu enfant,” which includes choices like an ouef mayonnaise starter and gruyere grilled cheese entree, served with a glass of milk and dessert, is pretty adorable.

2. Cafe Rue Dix,  Crown Heights
1451 Bedford Ave. (at Park Place); 929-234-2543

White the restaurant boom on Franklin Avenue has been a bit too harried and hipster-baiting for our tastes, we are loving one of the only recent additions to nearby Bedford Avenue. With a small bar, cozy bistro tables and full-length windows opening onto the avenue, the ambiance is straight outta Le Marais, with some authentic African art nodding to the dual French-Senegalese focus. It’s a perfect brunch spot, with options like crispy croquettes of duck confit served with a very spicy, but delicious Senegalese hot sauce, and a croque madame consisting of a thin, flat crepe topped with ham, egg, gruyere, bechamel and greens. There are traditional Senegalese dishes on the dinner menu, and with fresh breads, baked goods and coffee, it’s also a very nice spot for a slow weekday breakfast.

3. Mominette, Bushwick
221 Knickerbocker Ave. (between Troutman and Starr sts.); 929-234-2941

Definitively the most Brooklyn-y of the restaurants on this list, this Bushwick bistro had us at jazz and absinthe Tuesdays. Is there anywhere else in Brooklyn where you can groove to a DJ in the front room, play a little bocce out back, nibble some beef bourguignon, then sip on a cocktail of bourbon, cherry bitters and housemade mango puree? Okay you’re right, there are probably 12 other places in Brooklyn where you can do all of that, but still, Mominette is a special spot.

4. Cafe Paulette, Fort Greene
136 DeKalb Ave. (between S. Elliott and S. Portland aves.); 718-694-2044

With Chez Oskar, LolaBKLYN, Cafe Lafayette, iCi and Le Petit, Fort Greene is starting to rival Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens as the borough’s most Franco-friendly ‘hood. The latest addition, Cafe Paulette, recently opened on Dekalb, right across from Fort Greene park. The tiny spot (formerly a wine bar) has a quiet cafe vibe by day, with French press coffee and lunch options like pain perdu (brioche French toast with a housemade  pear compote), leek and shallot soup, plus small bites of olives, cornichons and anchovy toast.

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