Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gaslight, South End, Boston

Last night I finally got the opportunity to dine at Gaslight, a French restaurant that opened just over a year ago or so in the South End of Boston. Since its first reviews I have wanted to check this place out. The ambiance was talked up as authentic Parisian cafe style, with street lights to floor tiles imported from France, and the menu was to match. I have always been a bit obsessed with classic French style, and so the idea of a place that pays enough attention to detail to ensure its style is spot on, is really exciting to me. So, and without too much pleading from me, we ventured over to Harrison Ave, took advantage of their complimentary parking lot, and got ready to be entrenched in French cuisine.

The space was much larger than I had anticipated, and could immediately see why many of the reviews that I had read about it warned of noise issues. The high ceilings didn't seem to give much help in limiting how much sound could travel. Luckily for us we were eating a later dinner last night, and so the place was relatively empty when we got there. No noise problems for us. We ordered a bottle of Merlot and began to study the menu. We chose to start with an appetizer of Fromage Blanc, a delicate soft white cheese topped with a sprinkling of herbes de provence, sea salt and a hint of olive oil, served with croutons and a medley of pickled vegetables. The dish was delicious. Fromage blanc is made similarly to a typical hard cheese, however it is constantly stirred during the process so the curds never settle, this creates a lovely spreadable texture similar to a light Ricotta. The herbs and salt gave a subtle back flavor, and when spread on a crouton and topped with a pickled carrot, or onion, or cucumber it gave a really beautiful combination of bite, crunch and cream.

I decided to have the roasted leg of lamb with pommes morbier. The lamb was perfectly cooked, pink on the inside, nice sear and flavor to the outside, and the spice rub that they used to enhance the meat was delicious. Spicy without being over powering, just really enhanced the good meaty flavor. The pommes morbier, or basically potatoes au gratin, with the cheese being morbier cheese were ok. They were cooked well so that each layer of potato held their shape, but the flavor was lacking. The cheese wasn't strong enough to hold its own, and there didn't appear to have been any other enhancers (salt, pepper, herbs of any kind) added as well. The best part of it was the top layer that had been nicely browned in the oven so it had good depth of flavor. Sadly- that part was pretty small.

I have to say though, as pleased as I was with my lamb, and I was very pleased, I had a bit of jealousy for J's meal. He had ordered their bar steak served with caramelized shallots, a mustard cream sauce, and frites. It was, in a word, outstanding. The steak was well cooked, nicely seasoned, and the mustard cream sauce was absolutely perfect with the shallots. The flavors combined to make just a wonderful combination of complete indulgence. The fries were also excellent, nice and crisp with great flavor and color to them.

We ended the meal with their Tart Tatin, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. This was really only ok. The apples were slightly over cooked, the caramel could have had a bit more flavor to it, and the crust was basically non existent. I was looking for a nice deep brown caramel that you knew was just oozing that wonderful flavor, and an apple with a bit of bite left in it. As it was the apples had good flavor, but were difficult to cut, and the caramel was enhanced greatly as the ice cream melted into it.

All in all though, I adored my experience at Gaslight. The ambiance was wonderful, the food had very high points that far out shined the lows, and I felt very well taken care of by the wait staff. I will definitely return to Gaslight, and perhaps take in their bar a bit more, and indulge in one of their famous cocktails!

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