Last night was the beginning of the home stretch, the final three days of Restaurant Week in which I had planned to visit three strong favorites in the scramble for my new culinary cocaine.
Wednesday found me at Gaslight, Brasserie du Coin with Sarah. Gaslight is not terribly expensive, nor terribly adventurous, but the former is never a problem and the latter is actually a positive in this case, as Gaslight strives to put forth a comprehensive menu of dishes traditional to and iconic of French cuisine. Escargot, crepes, the works.
Softly lit with globe lighting and muted table lamps, the restaurant walls are lined with clouded, speckled mirrors and two rows of sparkling water bottles up near the high ceiling. The booths and tables are all dark wood, done up with a deep burgundy leather and bronze studs, and the atmosphere is full but not crowded, with ambiance background noise of light dinner conversation and the less voluminous works of Edith Piaf (for whom one of their cocktails is named).
Gaslight, like most of the other places I've visited so far, was also offering its regular menu, and how fortunate, as I was so hoping to re-sample their onion soup gratinee, a gruyere-topped wonder with soaked baguette and truffled short rib.
But we started with drinks; I had to go with the Fleur De Lis. Normally I would be opposed to a gin-based drink, but this had violet liqueur and a champagne floater, so, what the Hell. And it really wasn't bad at all, in fact I liked it. It was light and refreshing, and completely lacking of the usual "pine tree splinters in the throat" flavor of gin to which I will never be quite accustomed.
My onion soup came along just as I remembered it, and was consistent with my assessment as the best of its kind in town. From the pre-fixe menu, I was tempted by the opportunity to order lobster bisque with the likelihood that Gaslight would show up The Palm, but how often does one get the opportunity to enjoy braised veal cheeks on duck fat toasted brioche? The word "tender" would not even begin to accurately describe the dish; I was infinitely grateful that the restaurant provides an abundance of bread in hot baguette form with which to soak up the juices of this delicately portioned, savorable dish.
Having polished off my Fleur De Lis, I moved on to the Can Can, which was ginger liqueur and champagne with candied ginger at the bottom. I would be finishing my third Can Can by the end of the night.
For the entree, though lured by the navarin of lamb with turnip puree and pearl onions, not to mention the scallops in tagliatelle with scallions and strips of ham, I rarely turn down cassoulet. And I was incredibly happy with my choice. The duck confit and garlic sausage were perfectly portioned over the white beans, all sprinkled with a bacon crumble. Heart disease, surely, was the secret ingredient, but after the cheesy onion soup and the braised veal cheeks, there was no stopping this bus.
Finally, for dessert, I ordered what was one of the most anticipated dishes of the many pre-fixed menus I perused when selecting my reservations. Champagne sorbet with black currant syrup and parisienne macarons. The portion was generous, perhaps exceedingly so, as I was quite full just midway through, but it was fantastic. The sorbet was airy and retained just a hint of fizz, while the syrup added a sweet tartness here and there. The cookie, meanwhile, was in a category of its own, easily the finest Parisian-style macaron I've been able to get my hands on here in the U. S., as of yet unable to sample the source.
Gaslight may not have been quite so posh as Clink or as diverse in menu as Tremont 647, but stands alone in overall satisfaction thus far. Would do again and again.