Can a restaurant offer more than one specific cuisine? Can it produce an orchestra of individual flavors that come together? And can that menu represent a diverse community? Cafe Alyce sure can.
Not just a regular cafe on a corner—Cafe Alyce is calling attention to the importance of community. Jersey City is home to many cultures. Cafe Alyce represents that multiculturalism with its new A La Carte Dinner menu. The moment I walked into Cafe Alyce, I knew that this was going to be a tremendous adventure.
Cafe Alyce opened last year at 641 Montgomery Street after renovating the former Medical Center Luncheonette. The restaurant began with breakfast, brunch, and lunch service. Their creative menu, featuring influences from Southern to Indian, was a hit. This only meant one thing— it was time to start serving dinner.
On the heels of Cafe Alyce’s success with day service—and looking for a new creative idea—Chef/Owner Tory Aunspach found himself wondering what Jersey City-specific cuisine would be like. So, Aunspach and his team went through the McGinley Square neighborhood and asked around, “What dish would you like to see on our menu that represents your culture and where you’re from?”. Let’s just say their answer was overwhelmingly delicious.
Chef Aunspach combines his creative culinary ingenuity to display Jersey City. Cafe Alyce brings a cultural experience into its beautiful restaurant in the incredible food scene of the city. I was so ready to experience what the food holds and see what the hype was all about.
Dinner had the usual options: appetizers and salads, entrees, sides, and dessert, of course. This menu includes so many options that can fill all of my cravings.
For starters, I savored some brisket tacos. Two tacos were presented with slowly cooked, juicy brisket on a corn tortilla, drizzled with a peanut chipotle sauce. Though this appetizer can be eaten in one bite, it is one bite of empowering flavors that gets you craving more. It certainly kept me curious about what was to come.
The next appetizer was the flavor-packed duck confit nachos. This slow-cooked, shredded duck over crispy fried wontons was a crunch made in heaven. It’s topped with green onion, diced tomatoes, shredded napa cabbage, fresh jalapeño, sweet garlic chili mayonnaise, and hoisin drizzle. It was a marriage of delectable Asian ingredients, a french inspired protein, on a Mexican-style dish. I found myself loving that chili mayo and hoisin combination using bits of the duck to dip into it long after the crispy wontons were eaten all up. This appetizer is not to be taken as a joke because you will not be able to stop admiring it, even when you need space for mains. I learned this the hard way.
Time for the mains. I could not choose just one dish in such a variety of different flavors, so I had two. The winter cold had me longing for a hearty, spicy, carby dish and I knew that the chicken makhani tagliatelle was a perfect choice. Mahkani is an Indian curry made with a base of spiced tomato gravy, lots of butter (mahkan means butter in Hindi), and marinated chicken. But now incorporate that with traditional Italian tagliatelle, and we have a game changer. Although naan chips are paired with the dish, the long and flat pasta becomes the best carrier for all of the buttery, creamy tomato sauce. Once again, we witness another marriage of two cultures that lovingly pair up to make a great duo.
I tasted Mexican, French, Indian, Italian, and Asian roots, but it was time to have the ultimate Korean dish—the bulgogi beef bowl. The bowl is a masterpiece of Korean flavors: sweet, smokey, and slightly tangy. Bulgogi translates to “fire meat” because the meat is typically grilled or cooked with fire. The beef was tender and flavorful with bulgogi sauce, which is often considered the BBQ sauce of Korean cuisine. It covers jasmine rice with that delectable flavor, topped with green onions, sesame seeds, and spicy garlic chili sauce that brings on the heat.
For dessert, I was able to please my inner child with ice cream…Salted caramel ice cream with house-made salted caramel sauce on top was what I turned to. Suddenly, it was summer again. Now that is a good example of a happy ending.
Culture is all around us and this is especially true in New Jersey. We are gifted to witness all kinds of ethnicities, their traditions, and of course, their delectable food. This dinner is the opposite of simple. It is a kaleidoscope of people’s customs, put together to make incredible food. Cafe Alyce in Jersey City, NJ, delivers exactly what many of us need when we can’t choose what we want. Chef Tory Aunspach puts forth an impressive and knowledgeable display of culinary mastermind and I will be back to see what else Cafe Alyce has in store for the future of their dinner menu.
About the Author/s
Emma is an editorial intern. She likes to spend her free time cooking new recipes and chilling with her cat Stella.