RW: Union, Gaslight (and Camino Real)
Had a decent meal at Union on Mon. but wasn't thrilled overall. We ended up sitting at the bar, me thinking it was gonna be so much more fun there. But we were ignored for much of the time. Even at one point when the bartender asked if we were ready but proceeded to keep chatting with another customer who I assume was a friend for a while longer. When we started to order food, his attitude changed and he got better but still... I had a grapefruit martini, she had white wine of some sort. I started w/ frisee salad and duck confit, good. Friend had fish chowder which I didn't taste. We both had the cod wrapped in bacon and she didn't notice the bit of dryness I did. Pretty good but not swoon worthy. He recommended the choc. pudding dessert so we got that plus a coconut rice pudding. The latter was amazing if you're a rice pudding fan, altho the caramelized pineapple on top was kind of shriveled and tasteless. Choc. pudding was fine but they had it in a pastry shell that was hard as a rock so two rice puddings would have been the way to go (even tho I hate ordering the same as my DC). Fine meal but not amazing.
I put on a b-day dinner for my brother for 8 people at Gaslight on Wed. and the restaurant handled the various surprises and requests very well. Turns out that none of us actually took advantage of the RW menu tho. I was tempted by the Parisian gnocchi (not sure what makes them Parisian) w/ braised short ribs but was in a wiener schnitzel mood and that was very good. Maybe a tad too much breading, but it had a cheesiness to it, large piece, good sauce. Came w/ a side of roasted potatoes and I ordered braised escarole which was good. $18 and $5 I think. You could eat their bread and butter til the cows come home and it was esp. good in the garlicky butter from someone's escargot. Addictive. Had a bit of the salad which was a little too vinagary but nice. The rabbit w/ noodles was tasty as was the roast lamb and potato gratin and side of frites. People liked the bouillabaise and duck but the steak frites was so so rare, it looked horrible to me (like a muscle) and a lot of it was left on the plate. The choc. molten cake served to the b-day boy, which was a mistake and should have been a creme brulee, was actually quite good but my apple tarte tatin had no flakiness at all to the pastry and the caramelized part tasted a little burnt. And I hate those tiny little wine glasses. With 3 half liters, 2 bottles of wine, a bottle of champagne, a few martinis, some beers and a couple glasses of wine, it came to $620 w/ tax and tip so a bargain for 8 people.
I should probably put this in the $8 thread, but got dinner at Camino Real in Allston last nite and damn, that is a lot of food for cheap money. I almost ordered a regular platos typicos cuz it had been in my head all day but knew the mini size I had before was fine. More than enough food: pork cubes, grilled steak, rice w/ an egg on top & red beans, plantains, cole slaw. I probably could have stuffed more in but savede half for lunch today. Now the steak isn't the best quality, and the sweet plantains were a tad dry, but for $7.50! Friend had steak cutlet for $10 w/ the same sides but even more of them. I don't think anything that's non seafood is more than $10.
I think I need to eat at home tonite.
Had a great RW experience at Union with my wife Monday in the lounge, dining room was booked. Enjoyed the spinach salad, the Cod and the Ice Cream Sandwich. My wife had the Chowder, Hangar and the Pudding Cake (shell was fine). All were excellent and thought the service was well executed though the staff appeared quite busy. They also gave us both coupons for a return visit in April that entitles us to any appetizer, entree and dessert from their regular menu for $33.08, thought that was a very generous incentive for a repeat visit.
Joanie: Glad to hear the bday party at Gaslight was good. I think they handle this kind of thing especially well -- I've hosted a couple large groups there now (one was a bday) and the staff was particularly friendly and made a real effort to make it feel special. Given that my main complaint w/Gaslight generally is the snails-pace service, it keeps surprising me that they do well with the large group dynamic.