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Monday, August 27, 2007

Gaslight: recipe for a restaurant?


Makes one serving of a bistro that wants to be Balthazar or Pastis.

1. Combine escargots, pate, moules frites, onion soup au gratin, steak frites, and tarte Tatin. This batter may sound familiar -- it's a favorite for its predictable behavior.

2. Stir in wine by the carafe, a zinc bar, Piaf playing in the bathroom, and a menu in a Gallic font. Mixture may look a bit lumpy, but that's OK.

3. Open cupboard, take out every other French cliche you've got, and throw them in the bowl. Fold together, then wave rubber spatula in the air and sing "La Marsellaise" in a bad French accent.

4. Pour into madeleine pans; bake till dark inside and very loud. When almost ready, get the word out to everyone in the city.

5. Mix plentiful cocktails, grab a stool, and watch the place fill up.

In other words, I went to Gaslight, the new Harrison Avenue bistro, over the weekend. It was packed, and functioning fairly well for a restaurant in its first week. The food, however, was a work in progress: onion soup with a giant lump of cheese floating beneath the bread, threatening to choke a diner with its chewy strands; duck confit that was dry and suspiciously way-too-hot (microwave?); frites that were good in that they looked and tasted exactly like McDonald's; skate in gloppy sauce that resembled airplane food. It didn't seem to matter to the hordes -- everyone was having a blast, hollering at each other over the din and snapping photos. I hope the food will get better. But the place really is a mash-up of just about every French cliche there is. Piaf in the bathroom! At least they don't make the servers wear berets.

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