Despite his early exit on Top Chef, Chef Jason Cichonski was able to open up The Gaslight earlier this year on the back of his television fame and cooking chops at Ela. Housed in the heart of Old City, the idea seemed great - elevated takes on pub grub in a neighborhood that could use some unpretentious refinement (wanted or not).
Despite this, early reviews seemed negative (recent ones don't appear to be different). With so many other options in the city, it took awhile for me to check Gaslight out. But we were in the area catching up with friends, so decided to stop by.
On a weekday night around 8PM, it was practically empty. There were only a few servers on staff, which didn't give us the highest hopes for what was to come.
Gently with a Chainsaw [$11]
Bourbon, demerera, Angostura bitters
Despite the names that seemed to mimic that of Franklin Mortgage (and a good majority of speakeasy-type bars these days), the drinks we had were good. This bourbon-based tipple had a subtle sweetness was heightened by the demerera, with the bitters providing pronounced citrus.
Storm in a Teacup [$12]
Pimm's No. 1, ginger, lemon, cucumber, mint
The GF will drink anything with Pimm's - this had nice a ginger essence and wasn't overly sweet.
Possibly with Dynamite [$12]
Rye, Aperol, Punt E Mes, chocolate bitters
I also had this take on the Manhattan, which was smooth and had dark chocolate undertones.
Truffle Tremor Burger Special [$17]
Veal bacon, Truffle Tremor goat cheese
The kitchen had a special burger that night, which featured Truffle Tremor, which I love. Who doesn't enjoy tangy goat cheese blended with Italian black truffles? The burger itself was juicy, though came closer to medium and not the requested medium rare. The few slabs of veal bacon were fine, but not particularly interesting. The sesame-seeded bun was the right vessel for the burger, housing all of the innards well. The accompanying fries were well-seasoned.
Hand Pulled Pasta [$17]
Blue crab, sweet corn, pancetta, tomato
The GF went with the hand-pulled pasta as we were curious about the strength of the Chef's pasta game (most in the know about Top Chef have heard of those now-ubiquitous scallop noodles). There was good chew from these particular noodles, which were well-seasoned with the sweet corn and the acidity of the tomato to balance out the bits of pancetta. But where was the blue crab? The essence might have been in some of the brothy sauce, but there were no bits of crab to be found.
My experience at Gaslight was muted, though there were some decent bites. But as a whole, it's definitely not Top Chef worthy - even at an elevated pub level. It's good to hear that Gaslight is overhauling their menu and Chef Cichonski is moving forward with renewed focus. Because based on my visit a few months back, there are better options in Philly for pub fare.