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Review: Gaslight last night

Went to Gaslight last night for an opening party that was actually (unbeknownst to us until we arrived) sponsored by Morgan Stanley. The great news was that we got to be amongst the first to sample the full dining experience. With the exception of a rather strong and pervasive citrus aroma (cleaning products?), the space was very cozy and inviting. Good lighting, nice subway tile walls, the whole French bistro effect (think Brasserie Jo meets Aquitaine). Didn't get to fully appreciate the French-made zinc bar because it was so packed. In fact, when we arrived for the second seating at 8, they had already run out of the ingredients to make 3 of the cocktails on the cocktail list, including their signature, the Fleur de Lys (which looked very good). However, I had the Du Coin 75 (French 75) which was fantastic, although rather small since it was served in a champagne flute. I don't think a French 75 (despite the fact that it contains champagne) should be served in a flute, but maybe they were running low on glassware as well? The tables are set with dishcloths for napkins, which adds to the casual, bistro vibe, as does the fact that the house wine is available by the "carafe," which is actually a plain glass bottle. There were about 10 of us seated at our table, so we ordered several carafes for the table. Didn't even look at the wine list, as carafes of the 2 house reds served our large group well. I believe one was a cabernet blend and one was a merlot. During our meal, the cabernet blend was 86'ed (they must have underestimated the drinking power of this group!) so we continued with the merlot. A warm, crusty bagette is served in a paper sleeve with a tin of butter. There were no bread plates on our table, which made enjoying the bread a bit messy. Not sure if this is part of the "casual" theme, or if it was an oversight. Most of the menu items were available, with the exception of one appetizer, all of the sides, and a few raw bar items. The menu has nice variety, and is perfect for all-day and late-night dining, with several sandwich items (burger, croque-monsieur) that looked yummy. We had heard good things about the steak frites from a diner who was seated at the earlier seating, so I ordered accordingly. The steak frites is the priciest entree on the menu, at $19.50. I am not even a regular fan of steak frites, but this one was delicious. It can be ordered with butter or bernaise sauce. I chose the latter, which was out of this world. My only suggestion for improvement would be to find a more creative serving for the frites, which came on a small plate on the side. The frites were good, but the presentation could be a bit more interesting (a cup or a paper cone, maybe?). Overall, I was very pleased with my meal and found it to be a good value, as well. Other diners in our party ordered the tagliatelle ("good"), more steak frites, and the "bar steak," which also got good reviews. The desserts we sampled were also very tasty. I especially liked the tart tatin. The service was friendly and attentive. At the end of the meal, we were given a survey about our experience, but after multiple glasses of wine, I was generally very happy with how the evening had turned out. In retrospect, I might have mentioned the bread plates, or made a suggestion or two for the frites presentation. Overall, I am very happy to have the Gaslight in the neighborhood and can see myself spending many a rainy Saturday afternoon tucked into one of the banquettes there, enjoying a cocktail or a sandwich and wine. I look forward to going back when the full menu is available (cocktails and food) and the scene is a little less crazed. Bon appetit!

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  1. The place looks nice. But doesnt it look like a complete replica of Pastis, Balthazar, Schillers? It does to me down to the uniforms too. I know that those place are mere replicas of parisian classics as well, but perhaps a slightly new take on it. Do you think it will hurt aquitaine's biz?

    2 Replies
    1. re: jpeso

      Sounds to me like they're going for something louder, cheaper, more casual than Aquitaine (which is run by the same restaurant group). There's certainly more competition all around in the neighborhood: I was able to walk into and get immediate seating at both The Franklin and The Beehive during prime dining hours recently.

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        I would say that louder, cheaper, and more casual is accurate (hence the Brasserie Jo comparison). But the place still feels cozy (like Aquitaine). I'm an Aquitaine fan, but I'll probably spend more time here, simply because it's around the corner from where I live. I think today is the official opening, so I'm looking forward to hearing what others think!

        MC, I think the crowds have been light lately because everyone is on their "last hurrah of summer" vacations. The city has been empty (not that I'm compaining).

      1. I went to one of the opening nights and was really happy with what I saw. The space is fantastic and I had an amazing meal. It was a soft opening and I did not have to pay, but for two of us to have 2 apps and 2 entrees it would have cost $44. Wow. I will eating there alot.

        1. I went to Aquitaine for the first time a few weeks ago and there were no bread plates. Verrrrry interesting... *twirls mustache thoughtfully*

          1. Why do I have a feeling that hamburger is going to kick ass. And for $9!

            1. Just looked at the brunch menu- so many tasty-looking choices! Hooray!

              1. I'm off for the 9:30 seating. Will report back!

                1. Oh my sweet lord, I just had an aneurysm.

                  $2 PBR!!!!!

                  <snoopy dance>

                  1. Interested in hearing reviews from last night. Love the $2 PBR, which will fill the void left when I moved from Harvard Square and away from Cambridge Common!

                    1 Reply
                    1. Loved reading your review. FWIW: In many European countries no bread plates are used, except at formal dinners. The bread goes directly on the table.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Gio

                        Thanks! I was wondering about this, and suspected as much... Thanks for clarifying. Now, of course, I find it charming!

                        1. re: hsquare2southend

                          I went last night after hearing so much about it. I was fine with the no bread plates, but the drink glasses were the smallest I've seen. A miniature Grey Goose martini at $9.50 is overpriced in my opinion.

                      2. I had a dinner date elsewhere last night, but I stuck my head into the Gasight for a peek. It certainly has a great look, with the wall and floor tiles, the giant curved zinc bar, the staff uniforms, the menu's graphic design. Interesting cocktail list, lots of affordable wines. Very loud, even when half full.

                        I'm very interested to try the food, which seems mostly very traditional French brasserie fare, with a scant handful of oddities (like a Cubano). Raw bar, bistro steaks, Alsatian stuff (choucroute). Nicoise-style pissaladiere instead of the expected tarte flambe/flammekeuche. Very nice prices (all entrees <$20). I wonder how long they'll stay that low.

                        Incidentally, the website is working now: http://www.gaslight560.com/

                        1. We went last night, their 2nd official night open. We LOVED it.

                          We arrived around 6:45 and though they had no resvs (we'd called earlier to check), they do have a "lounge" area for walk-ins. The lounge isn't particularly lounge-like, and actually feels no different from the rest of the dining area but for its proximity to the front door and bar area. When we arrived, we were seated immediately in the lounge, which, like the rest of the place, has a very aesthetically pleasing design -- lots of small black and white glass tiles on the floor, dark wood tables, white subway tile walls.

                          We had the pate appetizer: a nice rustic terrine, cornichons, pickled pearl onions, large grain mustard, a hard salami-like meat, and little toasts ($6.50). My only complaint is that there are only two small slices of the salami, and if you're sharing this app (and frankly, I can't image eating a whole pate plate alone as an app -- too rich) there simply isn't enough. Also, a few more slices of salami would provide a nice salt/texture balance to the terrine. They also could have offered more than four little toasts. But the gratis baguette that comes to the table is excellent -- warm, and sheathed in a paper bag -- as is the quality butter. It felt very french corner boulangerie.

                          On to the entrees. My pal had the poulet rotisserie: a heaping plate of rotisserie chicken pieces accompanied by very tasty, thin cut garlic frites ($14.50). When delivered to the table, the server poured pan jus from a gravy boat over the chicken so it pooled in the bottom of the plate. I can see someone either loving or hating this -- the jus is tasty, but this manner of delivery soaks the bottom layer of crispy frites. My friend loved it. Nice presentation.

                          MrLit had the bucatini with pancetta, pepper, and pecorino ($13.50). His capsule review is that it was very simple -- just a plate of pasta tossed with a little bit of creamy peppery sauce, topped with chunks of pancetta -- but it was very tasty. He felt a little silly for ordering something as plain as this, but the flavors were good and rustic, and he certainly cleaned his plate. He adds that the pasta itself seemed to be very nice quality, cooked perfectly.

                          I had the sauteed skate ($18). You get two generous pieces of extremely tender, pan-browned skate wing, perched on a very small number of tasty (but minute) browned haricots verts. The whole thing is topped with a generous amount of caper beurre noisette (a thick, brown butter caper sauce, in which the capers seem to have been blended in, not left whole/chopped, giving the whole business a pleasant greenish tint and saltiness). The sauce was very nice, as was the skate itself, but with such a delicately flavored fish, there was just too much richness from the sauce. The plate really needed a starch, some kind of potato probably, to balance everything out. The haricots don't even have a chance -- they were good individually, but their flavor is totally overwhelmed by the rest of the plate. This seems to be a simple matter of the kitchen refining itself as the whole place gets up and running. In the meantime, I absolutely recommend the skate, but do yourself a favor and order a side of frites or something.

                          The drinks: we tried the cuban ice ($8), served in a collins glass, the fee verte ($8.50), served in a martini glass, and the manchester mule ($6.50), served over ice in a large bulbous lowball. Each was unique, tasting unlike other drinks I've had elsewhere, and quite tasty. The martini-esque drinks do come in small glasses, but to be honest, I prefer this to the fishbowl sized drinks served elsewhere, but I can see how others would feel put off by this. I don't know who the bartending staff is, but whoever created the drinks has done a good job, and they were well made last night. I'd like to come back and get to know them better and see what else they've got up their sleeves.

                          The service: it was lovely. The hosts were welcoming and cheery, our waiter was also quite nice. I will note that the menu is mostly in french, and I can see how this will get old quickly for servers who have to spend a long time explaining things to guests who can't decipher it. I was able to do the majority of the translation for our table, but we still had to waylay our server to figure other things out. As other posters have noted, there are no bread plates, which seems a little cutesy and affected. I don't enjoy having a table full of crumbs, and no one came by to clear them. I did see the manager late in our meal come by a scrape the crumbs for the table next to ours, but this seems an inefficient system. Most of the crumbs end up on the floor as fussy diners sweep their places clear themselves. Not the best idea on the part of the management, in my opionion. But whatever, it's a small issue, and I can easily overlook it on future visits.

                          Speaking of the manager, we met him -- Izzy -- a great big freindly bear of a guy. He told us that they are about 2 weeks from opening up their sister cafe, Greenlight, which will be right next door, further up the walkway towards the gym and patio tables in the same complex. It will be open 7a-7p, and will feature breakfast, salads, sandwiches, and soups, and will be able to use the patio seating (as long as the weather lasts).

                          Overall impression: I loved it. The aesthetic is great, and they've made a real effort to feature high quality fixtures on even the smallest level (the bathroom is lovely). An example: the back hallway that leads to staff areas is as nicely appointed and tiled as the dining sections. It feels like a fancier place than the prices would have you expect, which is really quite a nice way to dine -- you feel like you're really getting a deal. The price point is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and the Boston dining scene in general, and if they hold steady without raising the rates, I can see this place being packed all the time. They were full to the gills last night, but the din was minimal, which I appreciated. I feel like this can be a great neighborhood joint, and I expect to go back often.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: litchick

                            Interesting...I'm not sure if he wants it to be known but the GM at Gaslight is none other than Uzay Tumer, (http://uzaytumer.tripod.com/index.htm) one of the waiters from the television show The Restaurant with Rocco DiSpirito a few years back.

                            That jar of cornichons
                            Pate w/ mustard - not quite as good as The Butcher Shop or Eastern Standard
                            Escargot - save the bread to dip in all the wells
                            Grilled baby squid w/ arugula - Flash grilled perfectly
                            Steak tartare - nice touch with the poached egg but the truffles overpower, still like eastern standard's better

                            Sauteed skate - oversalted, great butter sauce
                            Duck Confit - skin could be crispier, much better at Petit Robert
                            Lamb - nicely cooked meat, served sliced, but the dish did nothing for me

                            3 people, $40 each. we would return for the great value. They need to increase the oyster variety, only one oyster type (Wellfleets).

                            1. re: George898

                              Ah, Uzay. Yes, that makes more sense than "Izzy" which is what I heard him say. He was very nice. Though, looking at his pic on his website, the manager I met ("izzy") was a much much larger guy, with super long hair. Perhaps not the same fellow after all.

                          2. Uzay Tumer is the manager of Gaslight. Izzy is the manager of Greenlight.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pink dress

                              Thanks for the clarification pink dress!

                            2. We went last night. Overall, we give it a B to B+. Food pretty good. Agree with the comment about the truffles overpowering the steak tartare - but overall a very tasty dish (if not a bit rich). They were out of the syrah/grenache I ordered and the timing on the delivery of drinks was waaaaaaay off - opening week kinks, however - no points taken away for that. I also had the lamb, and I agree again with george898, who points out that the meat was very nicely cooked, but did nothing for me. After the ultra-rich appetizer, the pommes morbier were just too much. The garlic confit (while delicious) was just too heavy for me after the tartare. I had a hard time finishing it. If i had chosen one of the delicious salads offered - like the Salade Gaslight that my husband had (frisee, lardons, beautiful haricots verts and spring onions) then I may have enjoyed the lamb more. He had the Croque Monsieur, which was delicious - the bechamel - perfect!! Service was delightful - in spite of the previously cited timing issues - those should work out over time. Agree with OP about the bread crumbs - it was a bit messy. Oh, forgot about the oysters!!! THEY WERE PERFECT - these were from Menemsha and were a beautiful, briny, not so plump, but fresh tasting with a sumptuous mouth feel. And the mignonette was perfectly prepared. I also had a very nicely made pear martini (not on the menu) which I asked to have prepared the same way they make the "Naughty Au Pear" at Bar Noir - Grey Goose vodka, Beau de Brillet, and a splash of champagne. Nice shaved ice. I like the little glasses. Very swish - perfect sized glass for a martini - IMO. The space - YES LOUD - but very engaging, bustling. We were able to hear each other easily. I love the ambience - very Pastis/Balthazar. Was a lot of fun. The room was filled with people who really seemed to be enjoying themselves. I will be back. Free parking - say no more. We went to Rocca after where my friend bartends, and I said that come September - December - February - as it gets colder - people will be very happy to have the parking lots at Gaslight and Rocca - making the trek to dining out a warmer one with the short walk from the car. Overall I am happy to have both places primed for winter dining. Looking forward to our next visit. Oh and a side note about Rocca - looks like Rita D'Angelo is running the front of the house there now. Great move!!!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Small Plates

                                Is Rita really at Rocca? I thought she was at Vinoteca di Monica??? I would love to know where she is!!!

                                1. re: southie

                                  Confirmed:she's no longer at VdM, most evenings at Rocca.

                              2. Has anyone had a chance to try brunch yet? I was there for Tuesday night and had a phnomenal time. I snuck a peek at the brunch menu and was pretty impressed. The roasted beet salad and vanilla french toast caught my eye in particular. The bar manager was nice enough to make me a bellini and it was out of this world. So I have high hopes, but am usually let down by brunches. Let me know what you think!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Quixotic 28

                                  Tried to go there today, but they will not be open for brunch until next weekend.