April 20, 2003, Sunday
NEW JERSEY WEEKLY DESK
QUICK BITE/Jersey City; On the Left Bank of the Hudson
By Geraldine Bodnaruk
Madame Claude Cafe, a recent addition to downtown Jersey City, may not be a bordello like its namesake in Paris. But the owners, Alice Troïetto and Martine Fayolle, treat their customers with special attention and the comfort of classic French cuisine.
The tiny cafe, which seats barely 30, has the décor of a warm and friendly country kitchen in the south of France. The owners themselves are from Marseille.
Madame Claude is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Keeping with bistro tradition, the menu emphasizes salads, soups, crepes, escargot, steamed mussels, stews, sandwiches and a large array of desserts that are made on the premises. Daily specials are posted on a chalkboard.
No alcohol is served (bring your own) and credit cards are not yet accepted, but the prices are affordable: a huge mesclun salad is $5.50; sandwiches, crepes and quiches, all served with salad, range from $6.50 to $9.50.
Individual savory crepes are prepared from buckwheat flour batter. Standouts include the goat cheese and ratatouille and the smoked salmon with tomato, capers and crème fraîche.
Side dishes are $4 to $5. The wonderfully seasoned Gratin Dauphinois is a sliced, layered potato with cheese and crème fraîche.
Les Moules Frites, $12, a main dish, is a huge bowl of mussels in mariniere sauce with an equally huge serving of thin julienne fries. Dinner specials, $12 to $18, might be coq au vin, beef burgundy or lamb shank.
And, finally, desserts are $4 to $6.50. They are numerous and include the all-time favorites chocolate banana crepe and crème brûlée.
Madame Claude Cafe, 364 1/2 Fourth Street, at Brunswick Street, Jersey City; (201)876-8800; www.madameclaudecafe.com. Closed Monday. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 8 am. to 10 p.m. Geraldine Bodnaruk