Saturday night, it was a friend's birthday, and she chose Flea Market Cafe (on Avenue A and St. Mark's Place). She had made a reservation for 8:30, and also called to confirm several times that our party of 6 would be able to be accomodated. Imagine our surprise then, when we found out that more people had walked in off the street than intended, and that we would have to wait around 45 minutes. Needless to say, we weren't too happy.
Finally, however, we were seated. Menus were presented. Wine was ordered. Food was ordered. Yummy chewy bread and lovely butter brought out to the table. It sounds very fast, but this was actually a rather slow process. The restaurant was packed to capacity and beyond.
To start, we got two orders of the fried calamari for the table. (I wanted the escargot, but couldn't convince anyone else. It smelled soo good, though). It was a little tough, but not enough to mar the flavour of the dish.
For entrees, three people got the moules frites, which they all adored, and couldn't get enough of the scrumptous broth. Two ordered the steak frites, with bearnaise sauce. Me, I got the confit de canard which was served with some pommes frites and a small bed of dressed mixed greens. Although it was a little fattier than I would have liked, it was nevertheless very good, the skin crisp, the meat tender. I love duck, I just have to say.
For dessert, we ordered a slice of the tarte tatin flambe (so very good, thick slices of cinnamony apples, not overdone which is key), and someone had brought cupcakes from Stickyfingers. A cupcake with a candle was brought out for the birthday girl, everyone singing loudly. We also got a bottle of champagne on the house, a lovely touch.
The tab came to about $200, for 2 appetizers, 6 entrees, 2 bottles of wine, 2 espressos and 1 dessert. Very good, simply prepared food. Bistro food, I daresay. No attempts at pretension. Which is the way it should be, in my eyes. Just good, solid food that makes me miss France desperately.
It is a small and very loud restaurant. Absolutely packed with people, many of whom spoke French. Decor was cluttery, but it added to the charm of the dimly-lit room. A fun atmosphere, the maitre d' dancing as he served food, the waitress taking a few moments to chat with us. The service was very friendly (they are very touchy-feely people, and flirty too), but absent-minded at times. Several times, we would have to repeat requests for more water, forks for the dessert, etc. But they were so utterly charming, it was hard to stay even the slightest bit upset. I would come with a group, it's more fun. Too noisy and crowded for an early date, in my opinion. They also do a prix fixe brunch which looked good.