I'd keep hearing little blips now and then about a supposedly legit French bistro up Broadway several blocks East of Steinway. The thing is, every time I walk up that way in the morning to go the post office or the library, the multitude of random guys hanging around (migrant workers, I believe) would feel the need to share with me how they thought I looked that day or what they'd like to do to me. (Yeah, it's a real blast being a chick sometimes.) So, I had a hard time imagining a lovely French bistro amongst them.
**A "bistro", in France, is not the term for a fancy French dining. Au contraire, it is a nice, respectable place to relax, enjoy friends and neighbors, and eat well. The French generally appreciate food far more than Americans, so average bistro fare will still be far superior to its American counterpart.
With this in mind, I can say that Le Sans Souci (Broadway just East of 44th) is truly a French Bistro. I was astounded by both its existence and success. The staff *are* French and so are many of the customers. Who knew there were so many French people in Astoria?
There are tables on a deck out front where you could certainly just hang out with a glass of wine. They show French films on Wednesdays, and inside, the interior is nice and a just a bit tacky. Like a truly European bistro, the decor is not lavish, but tasteful. Pretty table flowers, too.
I'd been tipped off by fellow Astorian blogger athrahans that these folks threw a decent brunch. So, after a late night, we decided to check it out. Well, it turns out we got there before they opened, but it was scorching out and they insisted we come on in and at least have some bread and coffee while we wait. Every table was packed nearly an hour later.
The bread is rosemary or olive and it's warm and delicious. The savory crepes were perfect (with a nice little salad). The mussels were excellent. I'd skip the scallops though I love the saffron rice they come with. They have many French dishes you could otherwise only get in the City. Fois gras (which I don't approve of for ethical reasons), things with truffle sauce, etc. They're also the only place in the neighb, I know of, where you can get a cheese plate for dessert. I love cheese!
The most wonderfully French thing about this place is that you can linger at your table forever. They don't care. In France, often, people really go to the local bistro to hang out. So, as a result, I wouldn't call the service snappy, but still, not slow either, and enormously friendly.
There's nothing quite like saying "magnifique!" and meaning it.