WINE DINE & FOOTLIGHTS
If a pizza and a crepe had a baby (crazy thought, isn’t it?), you’d have a delectable carb-filled something-or-other, or more simply, a tarte flambée. I’d never tasted the Alsatian dish before last Friday when I met my friend Joyce for lunch at an adorable spot called ‘La Tarte Flambée’ in Murray Hill.
Before I stepped inside the Manhattan restaurant, I was convinced that I’d order a big salad since I’m doing my best to steer clear of pizza. However, as I perused the menu and sipped a glass of French rosé, one by one I eyed tartes flambées en route to other diners’ tables. My eyes grew wider and my stomach hungrier with every passing pie. Even though I had the best of intentions, the thought of ordering only a plate of pretty lettuce with a few accoutrements seemed unlikely after I had laid eyes on the divine rectangular French flatbread. Ooh la la.
I did order that salad, but I couldn’t resist the namesake dish, either. We shared the frisee aux lardons ($12), because bacon makes everything better, now doesn’t it? This version was served with a warm honey vinegar to cut the bitterness of the frisee, and it tasted quite nice as a pre-course. Now on to the really good stuff.
We moved on to the ‘Provencale’ flambée with fresh tomatoes, basil and gruyere cheese ($13). I loved this tart, and could’ve easily devoured the large size myself. (I exercised a little restraint.) One wasn’t enough, however, so we opted for a small size of the ‘Forestière’ with bacon, onions, and sautéed wild mushrooms ($12), which was also tasty. Other flambées on the menu include the ‘Saumon’ – Salmon, leeks and onions ($13), or the ‘Poulette’ – grilled chicken breast and basil ($13).
The truth about tartes flambées is these crispy things are unbelievably thin and light and not as filling, as say, a regular pizza or even other flatbreads. So you could find yourself sharing several and not feeling too full, which is a good thing and a bad thing. (You can keep eating and eating, but something tells me the calorie count is high, especially with that layer of crème fraîche, a staple in a tarte flambée recipe.)
On your first trip, I recommend sampling several tartes flambées and saving the salad for your next visit. Or if you’re somehow guilted into healthy eating that day, you can go with a lunch special (if you dine at lunch, of course), which includes one ‘flammy’ and a green salad for $12.95. Or you could just wait until you’re not into healthy eating for a completely guiltless experience. I choose the latter.
For those who aren’t in the moody for the flatbread, La Tarte boasts other menu items that sound tempting too. I’d like to try the Potato Leek Soup ($9), the Hot Alsatian Hot Dog ($9), or for the name only, the ‘Grumbeerekeuchie’ – a potato pancake served with green salad and applesauce ($14).
I wasn’t able to try out the “jardin” –– a lovely enclosed patio area in the rear of the restaurant –– but it gives me reason to return when spring weather rolls around, if not sooner. I loved the small, charming interior and overall feel of La Tarte Flambée –– it’s a New York City gem in an under-the-radar location. Last Friday, I could’ve been in Alsace, but alas, I was only in Murray Hill. And I didn’t mind at all.
La Tarte Flambée Jardin
153 E 33rd St
New York, NY 10016