Alain's Wine and Tapas
Why would Alsatian-born Alain Eigenmann, successful chef and owner of Alain’s Bistro in Central Nyack, want to open a tiny tapas place on Nyack’s Main Street, a destination known more for its rowdy bar scene than for dining sophistication?
Well, perhaps marrying Spanish style small plates, French elegance and a comfy place to hang out presents a fun challenge for this respected chef. The result - Alain’s Wine & Tapas where rough-hewn wood tables, deep red banquettes and a well trained wait staff welcome about twenty diners at a time for trendy comfort food in a relaxed atmosphere. That may sound modest, but it isn’t easy to pull off and Eigenmann gets it just about right.
Once you shoehorn your way to a table and settle in for a glass of wine and a few not-sosmall plates you’re actually having dinner - as opposed to honoring the Spanish tradition of bar hopping and enjoying a nibble with each drink.
But never mind, there’s nothing purist about tapas anyway, so best to roll with Eigenmann’s warm and welcoming eating experience. The idea is to order several plates and, sized for about three large bites each, the portions are easy to share. Each plate is artfully presented - sometimes topped with a velvety flower, sometimes speckled with tiny teardrop peppers pickled into tartness. Most dishes give a nod to the tapas idea by integrating classic ingredients of Spain: Spanish chorizo, sliced roasted peppers or seafood, but many have the Germanic heft of Eigenmann’s native Alsace.
A few standouts were thin slices of toasted baguette spread with a thick Romesco sauce and topped with gently fried sardines – a nice seesaw between crisp and smooth, savory and salt. A creamy crawfish risotto rich with cheese and lumps of buttery crawfish was filling enough to be an entrée. Tiny BBQ ribs of boar coated with a mildly fiery sauce were falloff- the-bone tender and seared scallops nestled in a subtle celery puree were spot on.
There are misses however. The grilled octopus with blood orange and frisée had little evidence of citrus snap, a pan-seared fois gras was overcooked and beef short ribs beribboned with thin curly parsnip chips were under salted and mired in a generic brown sauce. The parsnip chips, however…genius.
Honestly, with a small, well-chosen list of wines from Spain, Italy, Argentina, France and California, numerous dishes to choose from and a lot of happy customers reluctant to leave, Alain’s Wine & Tapas gets the most important things right. It’s a welcome addition to the area and definitely worth a few visits. Call first though – there’s no bar area to wait for a table and after a stellar January review in the New York Times this cozy boîte is smoking hot.
WINE & TAPAS
88 Main Street, Nyack, NY