Just open since June, La Cigogne brings the cuisine of Alsace to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. “Cigogne” means “stork” in French, not that anyone couldn’t tell, with numerous large stork drawings adorning the walls and accentuating the playful French decor. Large glass doors in the front of the restaurant make room for choice outdoor tables.
Since it’s in Brooklyn, of course, one wall has exposed brick while another is a floor to ceiling chalkboard. After all, Cigogne aims to be part of the neighborhood.
Adding to its neighborhood feel, La Cigogne offers numerous beers on tap, a menu that includes a burger and fries, and a large TV that plays sports when it is not showing French movies (the World Cup was a huge hit here).
Unlike most neighborhood restaurants, though, La Cigogne specializes in food from Alsace, a small region on France’s eastern border with Germany. Alsatian cuisine includes tartes flambees – flat breads with smoky char from a hot oven and traditionally topped with onions, bacon, and crème fraîche – as well as spätzle, the German-influenced hand-cut egg noodles. They are fantastic, and set La Cigogne apart from most neighborhood spots.
The drinks menu is expansive and impressively focused on Alsatian varieties. The large beer list includes local favorites like Brooklyn lager, but also has the Alsatian brew, Meteor, on tap. The wine list includes well-known Alsatian pinot blancs and gewürztraminers, the region’s best known grape varieties. Try the Domaine Zink pinot blanc for a great reasonably priced taste of the region. There are also interesting sake cocktails.
The menu offers many options – appetizers, salads, tartes flambees, spätzles, entrees – all for around the same price and with most dishes $15 or less. This allows for many different meal combinations.
Try a salad as a shared appetizer, like an excellent baby kale salad with thinly sliced apples and crunchy almonds in a cider vinaigrette dotted with mustard seeds. Kale, which can be bitter, is not at all here, and is well coated with the sweet and acidic vinaigrette.
Of course, you must order a tarte flambee, La Cigogne’s best dishes. Traditionally with onions, bacon, and crème fraîche, we opted for the goat cheese and honey variety and we were not disappointed. The thin crust has a slight crispiness from the hot-fired oven, which is accentuated by the smoky bacon, and cooled off by the classic combination of goat cheese and honey. The dish is playfully served on waxed French newspaper.
The spätzle poissonnière was also a great dish, with an abundant amount of scallops, shrimps, salmon, and shelled mussels in a slightly spicy tomato sauce – thought it could have been spicier. Many seafood pasta dishes skimp on the seafood, but this one certainly did not, as the seafood far outnumbered the delicate spätzle, leaving us wishing there was more spätzle.
Less exciting was a side of slightly garlicky “wild” mushrooms served in an iron dish didn’t appear to be anything more than un-wild button mushrooms, and weren’t anything special. The frites looked much better.
To end the meal, there is a solid selection of house-made classic French desserts along with sweet tarte flambees. On the advice of our French-accented waiter, we went for an apple crumble a la mode, as well as a crème brûlée. The warm crumble was buttery, sweet, and delicious, and cut nicely with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – a la mode is optional, but how can you resist? The brûlée was solid with a nice consistency and crispy top, but could have used more vanilla.
The service is attentive and helpful, keeping up with the busy crowds that have already made La Cigogne a neighoorhood hit. We’ll be back.
215 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Recommended Dishes: Tarte flambee chèvre chaud ($13), spätzle poissonnière ($19), apple crumble ($8)