| DATE NIGHT | Madame Claude Café
The DATE NIGHT series on BURBS + A BBQ spotlights local restaurants and adult playtime activities for those fleeting, but important couples-only nights. Madame Claude Café kicks off this series.
Date Nights are so hard. You are desperate for the moment where you and your partner will get to (well, at least pretend to) remember what it felt like to be just a duo. You dream of the moment in the days that precede it, thinking about how you'll actually put on makeup and curl your hair like you used to, and choose an outfit that is not based 100% on comfort and its ability to stand up to regurgitated food, crayons, bodily fluids or dirt.
Instead you'll choose something that might make you feel... attractive (remember that old feeling?). You can't wait for some adult conversation and to truly catch up with the happening's of your partner's life and mind.
But then the moment arrives and you're terribly exhausted. You kinda wish you could change out of your yoga pants into your sweats, and surf Netflix with some red wine. But you push through, because you really miss those times when it was just the two of you, and the prospect of even a few hours alone motivates you to put in your best effort and summon that second wind.
When the first Date Night opportunity post-move-to-Jersey-City presented itself, we wanted to try something local rather than head into familiar Manhattan. I Yelp'ed the possibilities nearby and found Madame Claude Café, a French restaurant not too far from our new home. The reviews were mostly positive, so we decided to give it a try. Self-described as a casual yet classy bistro, we found Madame Claude to be just that.
There is beaucoup de passion for France around our house. I spent time studying in the south of France and in Paris on two separate occasions. I adore the language, the culture, the country and the food. Oh, the food!
The Love of My Life is also a foodie who dies for French cuisine. He shares my general love of France, too, having spent a few years living in Europe himself.
When we finally traveled to Paris for the first time together in 2012, we conceived our daughter after consuming dinner facing the Eiffel Tower, followed by a dessert of 36+ oysters. Oops! Thus, l'amour pour la France and its cuisine is immortal for our little family.
The lovely Madame Claude Café is a tiny French restaurant on the corner of 4th Street and Brunswick, and we truly felt as though we were in Paris as soon as we stepped inside. From the decor on the walls and arrangement of tables, to the service and the friendly welcome, we mentally travelled back to France. We didn't realize it is BYOB, so we were momentarily disappointed thinking we would have to miss out on the bottle of red we had a taste for.
But there is a liquor store right across the street with an ATM (Madame Claude is also cash only, so grab some bills while selecting your alcoholic preference). The Love of My Life ran over to grab that bottle of red and some liquide. Once we were finally settled into our sweet little corner table near the kitchen, we decided that the BYOB factor was a plus. Choosing your own bottle without paying a premium is fun.
Our waitress was wonderful: bold but not overbearing, attentive but not intrusive, and just an authentic, nice person. The Love of My Life and I usually share everything, and we had a hard time narrowing down the menubetween our traditional favorites. We were pretty hungry, but not ravenous, so we settled on the Assiette de Paté, followed by the Moules Frites (with a delicious saffron sauce at our server's suggestion) and then the Duck Confit. The paté melted in our mouths with the crusty french baguettes. The mussels, while out of season and therefore small, were so flavorful. The duck confit was divine, paired with some yummy parsley mashed potatoes. We intended to go super French and end with a selection of cheeses, but we just didn't have any room left for one more bite. Plus, we were closing down the joint at 10 PM (we're still used to Manhattan's endless dinner hour).
Then came the moment of truth. Anticipating what a similar experience in Manhattan would cost, my Love grabbed $200 from the ATM. But given that our wine was purchased separately, the bill came out to a cool $50 bucks. We laughed gratefully; the days of the needless hundred dollar bill dropped at dinner are over.
Bienvenue á Jersey City, indeed!
We can't wait to go back on a Thursday night for their weekly Gypsy Jazz with Manouche Bag, and also cannot wait to try Madame Claude's wine outpost near our pad in Hamilton Park. UPDATE: more on both of those in the provided links.