WHO’S IN CHARGE In terms of pure enjoyment, Gaslight Lynnfield, a French-influenced restaurant that opened in January, might seem at first glance to have two strikes against it: location (in a shopping mall) and ownership (part of a chain).
But the chain is the Aquitaine Group, which has a long history of culinary excellence in the Boston area. As for the site at MarketStreet Lynnfield, more on that in a bit.
The Gaslight in Lynnfield is the suburban equivalent to Aquitaine’s Gaslight Brasserie on the ever-so-trendy Harrison Avenue in the South End. The chef in Lynnfield is Steve Morlino, formerly of Southie’s Union Bar and Grille. Courtney Civitareale makes desserts.
THE LOCALE Tucked into a corner of the expansive MarketStreet mall, Gaslight Lynnfield features an extensive open-air dining area with umbrellas, heat lamps, and an open-pit fire. Its expansive interior has high ceilings, dark wood paneling, red-leather booths, an intricately tiled floor, and what looks like a wall of wine.
The affect is both comfy and sophisticated. Designer Peter Niemitz was looking for a 1960s European feeling, according to Aquitaine partner Jeff Gates.
Open seven days a week, Gaslight serves lunch, dinner, and a Sunday brunch. You wouldn’t think outside dining in a mall could feel romantic, but here it does, with clever arrangements of tables. It helps that the corner location affords some distance from nearby stores. It also means there’s ample parking. The restaurant seats 300 and has rooms for private events.
ON THE MENU The hint that this would be a special meal came with the delivery of a hot baguette, tucked into a paper sleeve as if just picked up from a French bakery. It was crisp on the outside, moist on the inside, and served with a mound of whipped butter.
There’s an expansive wine list and choice of appetizers, including a host of oysters and clams. We began with the Maryland-style crab cakes ($17), which were doused with an exquisite Espelette tartar sauce and nestled on greens. The cakes were “very crabby” in the best possible sense, as a dining companion commented.
Gaslight features plats du jour of meats and fish ranging in price from $27 to $39. We sampled the Sunday option: risotto — paella style — with Maine lobster, and mussels on the side, ($29). The risotto was a creamy and rich indulgence punctuated with chunks of tender lobster.
Another highlight was the duck steak with a sour cherry sauce, a breast with the rich heft and texture of beefsteak, accompanied with a tender chard salad and fries ($29). The steak frites ($25) is also a great choice, the meat tender and delectable. Other supper options include swordfish au poivre ($32), chicken rotisserie ($25), and seared rare tuna niçoise ($30.)
From 5 to 6 p.m. daily, there’s a prix fixe menu for $29, which includes appetizer and main dish.
Gaslight features a lovely assortment of desserts; we sampled the crème brulee ($7.75), which melted our hearts and mouths. We could almost believe we were dining along the Seine.
Gaslight Lynnfield, 1100 Market St., Lynnfield. 781-334-3433, www.gaslightlynnfield.com .Stephanie Schorow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.