La Vrai Chose: If you were taken blindfolded to Alain’s Bistro, you might believe you’d been somehow spirited to the French countryside rather than to a blah strip mall on a busy road outside Nyack. Alain Eigenmann, the engaging namesake chef/owner, is an Alsace native with a goatee, whose Frenchness emanates throughout his restaurant — and not the clichéd, snooty Frenchness, but the jaunty, genuinely charming kind.
Eigenmann, who trained alongside several Michelin Star-earning chefs in France, worked in some chic Manhattan boîtes before launching his first Alain’s in New Jersey. Piermont residents will remember him from Sidewalk Bistro. With this new Alain’s, which opened in the spring of 2011, the chef continues offering the kind of classic, hearty French cooking that’s becoming hard to find in these fusion-crazy days. In the cold months, that includes wonderful game, like wild pheasant or venison from Scotland, partridge, or hare. High quality ingredients are a given. “I’m a pain in the neck with all my purveyors, very picky,” Eigenmann happily admits.
Executive Chef Joel Perez is “the main guy in the kitchen,” says Eigenmann, who is the main guy in the dining room, where he makes sure customers are happy. But Eigenmann creates the special dishes. A recent one: pig’s feet stuffed with foie gras, then breaded and pan-seared. How do local diners respond to dishes made with parts of animals not customarily seen on a plate? “Americans who travel will try different food,” Eigenmann responds. “Although pig’s feet are pushing it.”
The Menu: A wide selection of traditional bistro fare, like escargot, mussels, steak frites, bouillabaisse, cassoulet, rabbit, and such. Even the lunch menu offers more than 30 choices. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are created according to what’s best from the market.
The Setting: Cozy French brasserie, with low lights, soft music, walls the color of Dijon mustard, and cushioned bentwood chairs. Eigenmann used wood salvaged from a church to dress up the spacious dining room, and solved the problem of ugly acoustic ceiling tiles by painting them terra cotta. “Everybody was against it,” he remarks of this move. “But it came out amazing, no?” Oui.
The Crowd: Ex-pats, Francophiles, and anybody who enjoys true French cooking or wants to try it.
Crowd-pleasers: Sweetbreads and Dover sole.
The Tab: Starters $7 to $12; mains $21 to $28. Mostly French wines start at $32.
9 Ingalls Street, Nyack. 845-535-3315; alainsbistro.com