Gaslight Brasserie: Delicious and affordable brunch in an upscale setting
I drink a large cup of steaming coffee every morning. The food I pair with said coffee does not really matter most days of the week: as long as I’ve got my coffee, I’m a happy camper. But on weekends, I feel that I have the opportunity to indulge in a more decadent morning meal. When most Tufts students want to treat themselves to brunch, they head over to Soundbites in Ball Square and drop about $10 on either French toast or an elaborate omelette, then another $3 on coffee, and yet another $5 on orange juice. So that the end of the meal, although you may be full until dinner, you just spent a pretty significant chunk of change.
So for the more adventurous (and wallet-conscious) foodie brunch-goer, I suggest Gaslight Brasserie in the South End. All-day Saturday and every Sunday from 10-11 AM, they have a prefix $10 brunch menu, which includes a giant cup of coffee or tea, a glass of orange or grapefruit juice, Julia Child’s spiced shortbread with raspberry jam, and a main course. Whenever I mention the fact that this splendid feast is only $10, all my friends beg me to take them. But let me start by saying this: it is not easy to get to. The best way to get there is to take the Red Line nine stops to the Broadway station, and then walk for about fifteen minutes. But, boy, is it worth it.
The space itself is reminiscent of an upscale French bistro, for that is what Gaslight functions as during the rest of the week and at night. In the morning light, the large windows make the dining room airy and naturally bright. It’s got that old-time feel, yet it has got a pinch of modernity that is nestled in the details of the booths and the simplistic decor that rims the room. The service is very formal, as would be expected from a high-end Boston restaurant. You can expect cloth napkins and water poured from sleek metal pitchers, and be prepared that most of the tables are filled by women in dresses sipping mimosas or Bloody Marys.
After ordering and receiving your coffee or tea and grapefruit or orange juice (insiders trick: you can get a half and half mix of grapefruit and orange juice if you ask politely), the shortbread arrives. The triangle-shaped pastry is crumbly, buttery, and sweet with the right balance of tart raspberry jam. Although a large meal is just around the corner, do not feel guilty for finishing your shortbread. Everyone does. It’s just too good.
The options for the main course are the vanilla French toast with blueberry compote, the omelette Lyonnaise with Gruyere cheese, potatoes, and caramelized onions, or the scrambled eggs and Cantal cheese served over toasted brioche. I always order the French toast: it is gooey and rich, and the blueberries add a punch of fruity sweetness. That said, the diners I went with were generous enough to let me taste the other two options. The omelette was good for an omelette – I’m not the biggest fan of a large hunk of eggs – but the aforementioned potatoes were actually thin handmade French fries that were universally addictive. The scrambled eggs were true to their word in that they were oozing cheese, and the brioche was very deeply toasted, which could either make or break the meal depending on your individual preference, but I personally liked the crunch of the bread. It’s at this point in the meal that the hour-long commute to get to this place seems completely worth it.
When you receive the check, you may also need to un-button the top of your jeans from the sheer quantity and decadence of the food you have just consumed, but nothing beats the feeling of being so satisfied with the food you’ve eaten and only having to pay $10.
Food (taste): A+
Food (presentation): A
Price: Exactly $10/person
560 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
Cover photo source.