Tag Archives: crepe

Form vs. Function at Royal, Watertown

13 Mar

Last weekend was the long awaited soft opening of Royal in Watertown. (The restaurant had been slated to open 2 months ago but hit a few snags.) When we found out that Royal had opened, my husband and I hurried over there to experience the New American/French cuisine for ourselves.


The restaurant itself nails the loungey vibe and vintage-meets rustic look, with gold-framed mirrors adorning deep red walls and blackboards hanging from the ceiling near the entrance . 


Royal is trying to be a lot of things – a dining room but also a coffee shop, given this setup for sugar and milk, near a rack of to-go coffee cups.DSC02078

The coffee was terrific both in taste and in price – a bottomless cup for $1 with purchase of an entree. It came in nice large mugs, but milk and sugar were delivered in small espresso cups. It was impossible to pour milk into my coffee without spilling much of it on the rather dusty tablecloth.

Royal Watertown soft openingIt’s clear that form trumped function in Royal’s choice of dinnerware.  Our water glasses were large squarish things that seemed more suited to being table centerpieces – something you might put a floating candle in. Though the concave edges cradled my lips as I sipped, the container itself was awkward to hold.

On the other hand, the food is delicious and creative, and artistically presented. Here’s the amazing house boursin and wild mushroom omelette with a chive hollandaise, potatoes, heirloom tomato salad, and arugula.  DSC02089

Still, aesthetics comes first. All entrees, like my ham and Gruyere crepe below, came beautifully arranged on a rectangular “platter”. I use quotation marks because I’m not quite sure what to call it. It was a heavy black thing with rough and slightly sharp edges, and a textured surface. The platters did show off the food as works of art – like paintings, but they were awkward for the servers to carry.


I was actually having trouble finishing my meal – partially because it was filling, but also because I was getting worn out from the exertion required to cut off each bite – the butter knife I had was not sharp enough to cut through the crispy crepe and the uneven surface of the platter didn’t help. That was a little too much exercise for me at brunch time. My husband joked that it was as if we were eating gourmet food off of a sidewalk.


The Royal pancakes had a lot going on – too much for my husband’s taste – he wouldn’t get them again. But I thought that the combination of salty of the crispy pork belly and the sweet candied walnuts and syrup actually worked. Royal pancakes

Right now, Royal doesn’t look like much on the outside. But the inside holds a lot of promise. There are still some kinks to be worked out – the placement of the tables could be improved for example, and the dinnerware tries too hard to be trendy. However, the food is definitely creative and tasty. Royal is definitely a much-welcome addition to Watertown!DSC02095

Info: Royal, 45 Lexington Street, Watertown, MA 02472 USA
Royal on Urbanspoon

Trendy, Frenchy brunch at Gaslight

14 Dec

Gaslight BrasserieIn Boston’s South End is Gaslight, perhaps extra trendy because it’s on a stretch with sophisticated artsy stores, and yet it’s a stone’s throw from the eyesore that is I-93. Called Boston’s best brunch in 2012, we arrived with high hopes. The restaurant was quite full when we arrived for our 12:30 PM reservation on a Sunday – Gaslight might be one of the few places that accept Sunday brunch reservations for small parties. We weren’t the only one waiting. After about 15 minutes, we were seated at a small round bistro table for two. It was obvious this is a popular Sunday brunch spot. All around us, booths meant for parties of four were stuffed with five people. Long communal tables seated multiple parties, tastefully separated by candle holders.  Wine bottles adorned the white subway tiled walls. Dark red velvet curtains hung from the ceiling, as if they could potentially divide the restaurant into smaller spaces. They were left open however, allowing the hubbub of gabby diners to fill the restaurant.

I ordered the crepes Parisienne. It was tasty, with ham and lots of cheese, topped with a fried egg and surrounded by a thick mornay sauce. I like my egg yolks more done than most people, and that’s how it was. Having watched many episodes of MasterChef however, I could picture Gordon Ramsay frowning, expecting a “perfect yolk” to be a bit runny, letting it ooze over the crepe.Gaslight - Crepe Parisienne

To accompany my crepe, I also ordered the French onion soup. At first, it was delivered sans spoon. When someone (a busboy? It was certainly not our server) finally gave me a spoon, it was dirty. Finally, after receiving a clean spoon, I was able to enjoy the delightful soup. It had a great soup-to-cheese-and-bread ratio, and  lots of onions, with hints of wine.

Gaslight - French onion soupMy boyfriend’s spinach and feta omelet however, was a huge disappointment. There was not nearly enough feta to balance the spinach. Slices of poached pear seemed out of place beside the very average shoestring fries. Overall, the dish was sorely under-seasoned. My boyfriend had to add a lot of pepper and hot sauce to the omelet, just to make it the least bit palatable. “Would you like to try some?” he asked me. Short answer: “no”. I’d seen enough. We could have executed this dish at home with far more flair.

Luckily, my boyfriend’s vanilla French toast saved his meal from utter failure. Thick, eggy, sweet bread topped with apple caramel was yummy and not too heavy.

Gaslight - French toast and spinach omelette

Service at Gaslight is very much European. After you get your food, don’t expect your server to show up all that much. But, that’s probably true of most busy brunch places. There are some interesting drinks on the menu, but we stuck with coffee – it turned out to be quite dark.

Final Word: Go to Gaslight for the ambiance, not the food. It’s a trendy, bustling place to get together with some friends, and feel like you’re part of the artsy crowd. Like some art, Gaslight’s food is not always well executed.

Info: Gaslight Brasserie du Coin, 560 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA, USA
Gaslight Brasserie du Coin on Urbanspoon

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