Wednesday, January 25, 2012
About a week ago I was browsing through the Seattle Weekly's 'Voracious' food blog when I noticed an article called "The 5 Best Mac and Cheese's in Town". Curious, because of my slight obsession with mac and cheese and cheese in general, I opened the link. Much to my surprise and delight I noticed that the 2nd best mac and cheese nominee was located less than 3 blocks from my new house! I promptly emailed Matt the link and begged him to take me there on Friday for date night.
So, after work on Friday Matt and I bundled up and walked the two and a half blocks to Gainsbourg (8550 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle 98103 or www.gainsbourglounge.com). The restaurant doesn't look like much from the outside (hence the reason I had walked by it a few dozen times and never noticed it), but once you walk through the heavy, black curtain a whole new scene unfolds. There are huge wood tables, an absinthe bar, a giant Eiffel tower sculpture on the bar, red walls and old, black and white, French films being projected on to the wall. We waited timidly by the door (even though the sign clearly said to seat ourselves) until the bartender told us that we could sit anywhere we liked at any chairs that were open at the larger tables. Sharing a larger table with another couple was really our only option because the place was packed.
We sat down and waited, waited and waited some more for the poor, single server that was working that night. When he did come over to bring us menus he politely apologized for the delay and stated that the restaurant was slammed that evening (wonder if the rave review in the Seattle Weekly had anything to do with that?). We browsed the menus, decided on our drinks, an appetizer and entrees and then waited and waited and waited (see a pattern here?) for the server to return and take our order. While waiting we joked that the slow pace must be a bit purposeful to add to the whole Parisian vibe.
I am happy to report that the food was worth the wait. We ordered Charcuterie ($11- bread, olives, meats and cheeses) to start and Matt ordered beer and I ordered a glass of Chardonnay ($8). The appetizer was great and wasn't too big or too small, just enough to munch on while we waited for our macaronis et Fromage to appear. The menu boasted that the mac was made with brie and gruyere (sounds odd, but OMG . . . SO. GOOD.) and a bread crumb crust ($9). When they finally did appear I couldn't wait to dig in and it was delicious!! There was not a lot of talking happening at our table while we ate, just a lot of savoring and enjoying. I had to order another glass of Chardonnay to help cut the richness of the cheese . . . which, to me, is a beautiful thing.
When we had scarfed down our entrees the server appeared and asked us if we'd like to try a piece of huckleberry cheesecake (the owner had recently picked huckleberries out of his friend's yard! How cool is that?) for dessert. We did share a piece, and it was quite yummy.
Upon bringing the check, the server told us that he had comped our first round of drinks for our extensive wait and the fact that we had to switch tables (which really wasn't a big deal). My kind of server! Very thoughtful and that final act of kindness guaranteed that we will be back at the Gainsbourg again VERY soon . . . but, of course, when we have time for a two hour dinner and not a quick bite.
I was a little skeptical about the Greenwood neighborhood at first, but with the discovery of the Gainsbourg things are looking up! Oh, AND, they have a happy hour with a $6 Gainsburger that I am dying to try. I guess I'll have to find the energy to walk the two and a half blocks from my house to enjoy . . . joie de vivre, indeed!