Alouette, an attractive French bistro that has been on Broadway and 97th St. for a dozen years or so, does not get mentioned much on this board, so I wanted to share my thoughts about a dinner we had there earlier this week. We were going to Symphony Space, so we had an early dinner, and I was impressed with the early-bird prix-fixe at $25 for 3 courses. I started with sauteed calamari, which were good if slightly tough, then had a delicious calves liver, and a flourless chocolate cake with creme anglaise that was excellent. My partner ordered a la carte and had a really nice goat cheese tartlet and a superb duck breast with duck sausage in a light orange-flavored broth. With a nice bottle of Cahors for $28, the total before tip was about $90. A nice welcome from the hostess/owner, Chantal, and attentive waitstaff make it a very pleasant spot if you are heading to that neighborhood.
I went there pre-Symphony Space about a month ago, and enjoyed it also. The prix-fixe was tempting, but we ordered a la carte. I had the duck, which I thought had good flavor, but was considerably more well done than the medium rare I ordered (I saw another order of it coming by that looked pretty well done also---if you like pink duck, order extra rare). I started with a shrimp with white beans appetizer. Kind of like pasta fagioli with shrimp---a bit curious, but good. My friend was very pleased with his grilled sardines and fish special, which did look excellent. And that $28 Cahors was a great deal. It's getting to be a surprise to find anything of interest on a wine list for less than $30.
I had dinner there a few weeks ago with my visiting, Francophile aunt. She loved it. I enjoyed the meal, but had a few complaints about the food.
I agree that the calf's liver, which my aunt ordered, was excellent. My starter, escargot in some kind of pastry, was nicely flavored, but the pastry was a bit tough and soggy. My skate was a little overcooked, and I found the desserts underwhelming.
Still, the place was very pleasant, the service good without being overly solicitous, and our entire party enjoyed ourselves.
On my aunt's recommendation, my later-visiting uncle and my parents went there for a meal that they all enjoyed.
So I think I can, in general, agree with the recommendation. A charming neighborhood bistro with, perhaps, not the best food in the world. A useful place and a very good value.