While Gaslight Lynnfield is the newest restaurant in the very trendy MarketStreet lifestyle center, it exudes the aura of a charming old European bistro. From the warm welcome at the door to the tiled walls, antique mirrors, and arched ceilings, the space is bustling and comfortable, inviting customers to relax in a padded chair at the bar or in a cozy booth.
A wide-open kitchen, brightly lit along the back wall, draws the eye like a stage, attracting attention to more than a half-dozen cooks chopping, mixing, grilling, and plating. For box seats to the “performance,” request a table “in the 50s” (staff code for one of the four booths that line the low wall separating the kitchen from the dining room).
The “50s” booths, and those throughout the restaurant, are intimate without being exclusive much like the restaurant itself. Though fans of South End sister restaurant Gaslight Brasserie in Boston might miss the snug, low-ceilinged appeal of that spot, they will appreciate the roominess of the Lynnfield locale.
The Boston–based Aquitaine Group intends their Lynnfield venture to be the American cousin of the original, sharing some traits, though not the heavily French-influenced menu. While some favorites like the French onion soup and the escargot, and a vast raw-seafood selection appear in both locations, the emphasis is on hearty portions of meat and seafood, carefully prepared and sourced locally whenever possible.
Peruse the menu while snacking on some offerings from the “Hand-Sliced” section—a collection of charcuterie and cheeses. Try the country style pâté, a rich and smoky blend of pork, chicken livers, ham, and fatback ground and cured in-house, and wrapped in bacon. Or the duck rillettes, an opulent mixture of house-cured duck confit, grain mustard, and thyme.
Moving on to the impressive selection of salads, one is especially eye-catching. The vegetable salad, rather unusually described as “roasted, shaved, steamed, and puréed,” lives up to its name, employing a variety of textures and flavors to great effect. While the salad changes often, with the seasons or with chef Steve Morlino’s whim, it is consistently delicious. On a recent visit, it featured a medley of roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and carrots, along with crisply steamed haricots verts, on a bed of cauliflower purée, and topped with a bright red wine herb dressing. Order it with a cup of decadent French onion soup for a perfect early spring meal. The intensely flavorful soup gets a strong dose of sweetness from the onions, which are slow-cooked for about three hours, plus Spanish sherry. Topped with Emmentaler, Gruyère, and a chapeau of crusty grated Parmesan, it’s nearly a meal in itself, but then one would miss out on entrées like the delectable roasted loin of venison—tender and juicy, the steak is roasted in butter, served with mushrooms and a parsnip purée, and topped with a subtle cream sauce, enlivened by a bright hit of acid from colorful lingonberries.
It’s hard to choose from among the French-inspired options pastry chef Courtney Civitareale has put together. The scrumptious white chocolate mousse is adorably served in a canning jar, displaying layers of tart pomegranate seeds and blood orange in creamy pudding. Presentation is just as enticing with the lemon chiffon layer cake—a tiny, individually baked confection of light sunshiny cake, layered with lemon curd and topped with toasted meringue. Pair it with something from the restaurant’s extensive list of dessert wines—if you can’t decide, the highly informed staff is ready to help.
Come spring, Gaslight will start making use of a large terrace. Featuring an outdoor fire pit and bar, it is the ideal spot in which to enjoy the last few sips of your oh-so-delightful Les Pins Monbazillac.
Vegetable Salad ($12.75)
Hand Sliced Petite Board ($18.25)
French Onion Soup ($11.50)
Roasted Loin of Venison ($33.75)
White Chocolate Mousse ($7.25)
Lemon Chiffon Cake ($9.75)
1100 Market St.