WOW! Gerard Craft's New Brasserie by Niche - AMAZING

We had dinner last night with friends at Gerard's new French restaurant, which opened Tuesday (old Chez Leon space). Simple, classic, bistro fare done extraordinarily well. Gerard was highly visible and worked the dining room the entire evening. Our server was attentive, knowledgeable, and her recommendations were right on.

On to what we had - three courses - appetizer or salad, entree, and dessert - for $30. Wow. What a bargain, considering the chef is one of THE darlings of most major US culinary publications. Google Gerard Craft and you'll see what I mean. We started with a mix of spiced olives and grougeres - cheese puffs so light you could eat a hundred because they're filled with air. Salad course was frisse topped with a pouched egg and bacon lardons. I opted out of dessert and sub'd another appetizer - four large scallops, perfectly caramelized but tender and sweet roasted red beet bites. Nice combo of flavors. For my entree, I had mussels - a HUGE bowl, perfectly seasoned, and pomme frites, served in what I think of as a mint julep cup - thinly sliced, crispy, with appropriate saltiness. Craig had a Hinkebein Hills Farm pork chop and scalloped potatoes, Jim had a ribeye steak, and Bruce had trout. Most of the wine menu is French, no surprise, very reasonably priced, and we enjoyed two bottles of 2006 Chateau Teyssier Bordeaux. Strong Kaldi coffee complimented the apple tartes tatin that the guys immensely enjoyed.

I know we'll be back. I cannot wait to try the pate and a friend who attended last week's soft opening highly recommended the cheese burger served with those best-in-the-city frites.

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