Alsace French Bistro (1120 Pinellas Bayway S #114) is a hidden gem in St. Petersburg.
If you’re anything like me, your grandma was indisputably phenomenal at two things: home-cooking and handing out money. Sometimes, she even did them at the same time, which meant that you got to spend your afternoon slurping down butternut squash soup while pulling wrinkled twenties from a singing birthday card. Miss those days? Alsace French Bistro may be able to bring them back.
“We serve a grandmother-style cuisine,” chef and owner, David Weiss, said while sitting beside me at one of Alsace’s cloth-covered, wooden tables. “Everything here is homemade. We wanted the restaurant to feel homey. Like a grandmother’s kitchen.”
Homestyle, scratch-made cuisine
He paused for a second, glancing at the shelves full of collected trinkets that lined the dining space.
“Or grandmother’s living room.”
When David says “we,” he is referring to business partner and co-chef, Sebastien Kapplar, with whom he moved from France approximately eight years back. Raised by family members who were passionate about cooking, the pair always knew they wanted to open a restaurant. After fourteen trips to the US, however, that dream changed. No longer did the team simply want a restaurant—they wanted a restaurant in America.
Fast forward a couple years to 2016 and the team found themselves in St. Pete. Enamored by the “lights” and “beauty” of the Sunshine City, David recalls calling Sebastien and saying, “This is it. This is the place.” By July of that year, Alsace French Bistro was born.
A unique, multicultural fusion
From the get-go, Alsace has been committed to serving “homestyle” French food with a specific focus on (predictably) the cuisine of the Alsace region. This narrow region of land, which lies on the northeastern border of the country, has alternated between the control of Germany and France many times over the past few centuries. The resulting cuisine of the area, therefore, features the gastronomic traditions of both countries.
“When we came from France,” David explained, “We wanted to bring our food.” He flipped open a laminated menu, running his index finger down the multicultural columns. “You can’t find this stuff anywhere.”
At first glance, “Escargots in garlic cream sauce” and “Boeuf Bourguignon” didn’t seem too out-of-the-ordinary to me. As David continued down the menu towards dishes like “Choucroute” and mushroom-covered “Tarte Flambées,” however, I quickly recognized the uniqueness of Alsace French Bistro’s offerings. There really isn’t a place in St. Pete that serves French-German fusion.
And let’s be real—even if there were, would it even matter? I mean, Alsatian food is good, but grandmother-style Alsatian food?
Save me a seat next to the 1940’s oven mitts.
Now, if grandma’s cooking sounds good to you, but you’re unsure what to expect from French-German fare, fear not. Here are some of Alsace’s menu highlights translated:
- “Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée”: AKA, French onion soup. A classic, well-known Altasian dish, David and Sebastien’s version comes exactly how you would expect—a caramelized onion broth with “loads of croutons and cheese.”
- “Camembert”: One of the most delicious French cheeses, Camembert is known for its soft, flavorful core. At Alsace, it is served breaded, flash-fried, and with a side of jam.
- “Tarte Flambée Forestiere”: Tarte flambées are essentially pizza, but with thinner dough, creamy white sauce, and generous hunks of bacon. Alsace Bistro offers three different types, but the “Forestiere” rendition, with melted swiss and roasted mushrooms, is hands-down the best.
- “Escalope Pannée à la Crème”: Featuring deep-fried, breaded chicken in a white mushroom sauce, this dish is a prime example of the Alsatian crossover of French and German cuisine. The tender cutlets are easily comparable to German schnitzel, while the mushroom cream roux is almost identical to a French bechamel sauce.
- “Pork Osso Bucco”: A slow-cooked, bone-in pork shank. When done Alsatian style, the meat is generally covered in a savory brown gravy.
- “La Choucroute Alsacienne”: A time-to-time weekly special at Alsace, choucroute is a massive plate of sausages, sauerkraut, salted meats and more. David highly recommends this dish—if you can catch it.
- “Mousse au Chocolat”: Don’t let the simplicity fool you, Alsace’s chocolate mousse is one of the best items on their menu. It’s also big enough for sharing, but you probably won’t want to.
Ready for dinner?
Do those French-German comfort dishes already have your mouth watering? There are plenty more on Alsace’s menu.
Before stopping in, though, be sure to make a reservation. If there’s a third thing that grandma’s are known for, it’s always having a full house.
To make a reservation at Alsace French Bistro, prospective guests can call (727) 867-5800.
For further information on the restaurant, interested parties can visit their official website.