Francis Cafe Brings French Back to Ditmars Boulevard

A Sandwich a Day

A new sandwich every day.

In this great city of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around New York. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.


[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

It's been a few years since 718, the Alsatian restaurant in Astoria known for its tartes flambées, closed. A little later, Francis Cafe set up shop, promising French salads, sandwiches, and bistro classics...and then never opened. The restaurant, though clearly near-finished, remained dormant for over a year. But it's now finally open for breakfast and lunch (dinner to follow).

The lunch menu sticks close to French basics of salads, omelettes, sandwiches, and some larger dishes like steak frites. Slightly further-reaching is the Merguez Moutarde ($11), a slender lamb sausage with soft vegetables and a swipe of creamy grain mustard. The split merguez is light on the telltale warm spices and is on the drier, more compacted side of the sausage spectrum. Soft summer squash, bell pepper, and onion cooked into tomato add the spice and moisture the sausage lacks, and that mustard gives the sandwich a tangy depth.

A firmer, more crisp and airy baguette would have given this sandwich a much stronger showing, but as-is it's a satisfying, if imperfect, addition to the neighborhood's lunch options.