Sometimes all you want is a slice of pizza. Chefs know this, and try occasionally to answer our basic cravings. Case in point: tarte flambée. With its French pedigree, it’s fancy enough to stand up on high-end menus. The Modern’s bar room offers it, as do Café d’Alsace and August. But the best example yet to hit Manhattan may be at Klee Brasserie, which opened in Chelsea last month. Called “Alsatian pizza” and presented as a first course, this version is irresistibly crisp, as thin as a cracker. It comes with the traditional toppings of lardons, crème fraîche, and onions. You’d swear there’s cheese involved. But it’s just that the onions have melted into a sweet mass with the cream—which will drip tantalizingly from the edges as you raise a slice.
Another standout among the first courses is the “char-tartare,” which replaces the usual tuna with chunks of a subtler fish, arctic char. It’s cured briefly with lime and takes on a heavenly texture in the mouth. A dollop of minced golden beets sits on top and offers just a hint of earthiness. The dish provides clues to the background of the Austrian chef, Daniel Angerer. He worked for such luminaries as Joël Robuchon, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and David Bouley before most recently manning the kitchen at Fresh, the Tribeca restaurant specializing in seafood.