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by Marisa Olsen


As you all know, I am not a huge Valentine’s Day girl. Well let me explain. I don’t do stuffed animals, period. I don’t like heart shaped chocolate boxes unless it has a European imprint. No Russell Stovers for me. I don’t like cheesy cards, although jokes are always welcome for this genre. No mushiness. What I do value are dinners out, roses sent to the office and fine chocolate (this has already been covered above). Oh and sometimes I will wear a little red, subtle of course.

Per my request, I did obtain the dream dinner without the overly gross feeling that Valentine’s Day can so often offer. As many of you know, and this may come as a surprise, I like to plan. So micromanaging for my perfect dinner began in January. I immediately made a list of all acceptable restaurants and settled on Gaslight, the new French Bistro in South End. Gaslight is part of Aquitaine's Group, which manages Aquitaine (another French hit) and Union Bar and Grill. I had attended the opening ceremony and was immediately impressed by the beautifully executed aesthetics and décor. Once OpenTable gave me the go, we were all set. Then the waiting began…

But finally, it was February 14. Pre dinner, we hit up one of my old favorites, Monica’s Vinoteca, a chic, yet surprisingly quiet bar that is a nice change from boisterous BHP or the if-you-want-to-get-spilled/stepped-on, Sail Loft. We settled on two different reds and ogled over the menu, noting the dishes we would definitely return for; crostini with chicken pate, figsand a caramelized cranberry reduction and a pizzetta with caramelized onions, figs and prosciutto (the MMO Holy Trinity).

After getting our hearts pumping with the vino, we sped to Gaslight. My partner in crime was immediately impressed with the interior. I, on the other hand, was immediately impressed that they were playing Carla Bruni, Sarkozy's newest wife and one of my favorite French singers. Although they boast a large space, Gaslight was still able to imbue the intimacy AND liveliness that an authentic brasserie has to offer. The space is absolutely beautiful; vintage French clocks, street signs and Metro tiles decorate the walls. The floor consists of tiny pearl-like tiles that dance in the candlelight. Other small details, such as the small glassware and white marbleized granite tables, reinforce the authentic brasserie feel. Every table was even served their own paper-bagged baguette, recreating the wondrous routine of unwrapping a fresh warm loaf and then ultimately biting into the crusty, doughy sublime; tres Francais, I could’ve been there.

We began our meal by ordering a bottle of Vouvray and starting with oysters to whet the appetite. The oysters were absolutely delicious; a small amount of red wine vinegar and the homemade cocktailsauce went a long away and added to the flavor of the refreshing jewels. For the appetizer, we agreed on the Fondue Piemonte, which was presented as quite a surprise. Expecting the tradition sterno base and skewers, we were delighted to find our fontina and saucisson presented in a black iron skillet dish with crusty bread serving as our skewers. Delicieux. With saucisson in every bite, the fondue ultimately tasted like a gourmet pepperoni pizza.

For an entrée, I chose the skate, an unfamiliar fish to me, yet most Frenchies recommend. My counter part decided on the steak frites, Grace a dieux. The skate was delicious, pan seared and served with a Dijon sauce; the combination melted in my mouth. The steak frites were accompanied with Bernaise and tasted best when all three fats were eaten in the same orgasmic bite.
Dessert was a generous portion of crème brulees escorted with a (small, mais oui) glass of port.
All-in-all, the ambiance, décor and service were sensational and the food was delicious despite a packed lovey-dovy house.


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