Madame Claude Cafe helped pioneer an otherwise sleepy corner of the Village. More than a decade after its opening, Alice Troietto and Mattias Gustafsson — the husband-and-wife team behind the tiny French restaurant — have moved to the White Eagle Hall and opened Madamde Claude Bis, serving seasonal French classics and cocktails in a much larger setting.
Madame Claude Cafe has been a Village favorite since its opening back in 2002. What do you think of all the changes occurring in downtown Jersey City — particularly in the Village?
The first thing we are very happy about is that there are new restaurants and businesses opening and that will create long awaited life in this part of town. As for the the new developments, as long as they are tastefully made and not oversized, we obviously think it’s a good thing as business owners. But some of the old landlords are not maintaining their buildings and that is not very respectful toward the community. We were victims of that negligence in the old place.
Aside from the additional space, what can diners expect from the new Madamde Claude Bis?
We kept the same menu, but added oysters to it, which could expand to “Plateau de Fruit de Mer” in the future, something that would have been impossible to do in the old place. The fact that we have a bigger kitchen and more appliances will help us have fun with specials. Right now we are serving “Côte de boeuf” for two, which we would have never done in the old place.
Credit: Madame Claude Bis
The new restaurant now includes a bar and wine cellar. What types of wine and drinks will you offer?
We only carry French wines and for good reasons. The country has such a variety of styles and there is so much we can introduce to our customers. The cocktails were concocted by a friend of ours, Steve Bumgarner, and are all made with French spirits. They will be seasonal.
Credit: Madame Claude Bis
Are you both Jersey City residents? If so, for how long?
Yes we are, 25 years.
Mattias, you were nominated for a Grammy in your previous career. What made you trade the music business to become a full-time restaurateur and which industry do you think is tougher?
Mattias: It was in the mid 2000’s after Napster. The industry changed and all labels and publishing companies started to restructure. I had a foot in the food business with my wife, then I jumped in. They are both tough in different ways like many other businesses, but I guess when things are going well it’s always easier.
Who does the majority of the cooking at home and what do you traditionally like to cook?
We both cook. We try things out for the restaurant and we do both French classics and Asian-influenced dishes. We have our daughters and friends as guinea pigs.