For years, Gaslight was one of the most popular neighborhood bars in the area near DePaul, located at the corner of Racine and Montana. Last year they closed and that spot re-concepted into Trellis, an amazing bar/restaurant that I recently had the pleasure to review. Luckily for Gaslight groupies, however, they didn’t close entirely – they simply moved and expanded.
The new Gaslight opened just a few days ago at 2450 North Clark (just north of Fullerton) and both loyal fans and soon-to-be fans will be delighted at both the new location and the new menu. I was recently invited to spend some time chatting with General Manager Mike Schieber and sampling the inventive food and cocktails. If you have the chance, get to know Mike (or “Bald Mike” as he is affectionately known on his business cards). Not only is he great fun, but he’s a wealth of knowledge about the drinks, the food, and the history of Gaslight.
The spacious new location has a wonderful beer garden overlooking Clark Street, complete with trees growing up through the floor. It is covered, but open on the sides, so it’s perfect for outdoor dining/drinking even if the weather happens to be a bit dodgy. Very few outdoor patios have this “all-weather” option, so you should definitely take advantage of it.
This new location took over what had been a notorious local “dive” bar. They essentially gutted the dark, musty interior and converted it into something lighter and much friendlier. The décor is based on nautical themes, so when you’re in the interior spaces you feel as though you are on the lower deck of a tremendously nice sailing vessel. Those who remember the old Gaslight will recognize the light fixtures behind the bar, but everything else is new and improved.
The cocktail program is solid and interesting. On my visit, I sampled several cocktails:
All of these were perfect summertime sippers, particularly the Citrus Radler and the Fresh & Fancy. Those were particularly light, refreshing, and excellent on a warm summer day. Obviously, beer constitutes a huge portion of the beverage menu. Gaslight has an excellent tap program and a staggering variety of beers by the can. No bottles here . . . just fascinating cans by the dozen.
For me, however, the real star of the evening was the food created by talented Chef Josh Hutton. Forget what you think about “typical bar food.” Gaslight has taken that concept and elevated the quality and preparation to create items that are worth a visit just on their own. The menu still has some old favorites – burgers, pizzas, etc. – and those have always been excellent at Gaslight. In fact, at the old location, I used to make a special trip into the city just for their burgers. They are that good.
The new menu has some added bonuses, though. For a lighter start to your experience you should definitely sample the Hummus Trio (roasted red pepper, classic, and pesto hummus, pita, veggies). These are all homemade with fresh ingredients and large pieces of vegetables to dip. Also a more traditional offering, the Hand-cut Fries (choice of seasoning: salt & pepper, BBQ or house blend, served with truffle aioli) are another great start to your meal. My suggestion is to go for the house blend. The truffle aioli is what moves these from great to superb.
One of my favorite surprises on my visit was the Corn Dog (local artisan sausage, honey-beer mustard). The batter is light and flavorful and the artisan sausage (locally sourced) was truly some of the best I have had in a while. Dip this into the hand-crafted honey-beer mustard and you have one of the best comfort food moments you will have all summer.
Another standout on the appetizer menu were the awesome Tostadas (poached shrimp, avocado, radish, cilantro, chipotle crema). Each tostada was small enough to handle easily (about two bites) and was crunchy enough not to fall apart. The combination of shrimp, veggies, and crema was light and perfect for a snack with any of the cocktails.
Tacos anyone? Gaslight some of the best tacos you will taste this summer. Two that you must try are the Mahi Mahi Tacos (jicama-ginger slaw, wasabi mayo, cilantro, corn tortilla) and the Veggie Tacos (black bean fritters, corn salsa, avocado, cilantro, chipotle crema, corn tortilla). Either (or both) are truly excellent. Probably the most intriguing offering, however, is their unique Fish & Chips Tacos (beer battered cod, tartar sauce, pea shoots, pickled Fresno peppers). Why hasn’t anyone else thought of this? What a genius idea – fish, fried, tartar sauce, and fresh pea greens all wrapped up into a soft taco shell. The only thing missing for me was the malt vinegar, but I bet if you ask they can find a bit for you.
Gaslight is located at 2450 North Clark Street. Parking can often be an issue in that area, but here’s a little sneaky secret. There are several spaces on Arlington just at the intersection of Clark and Arlington that are neither metered nor zoned. Even better, just a block south at Fullerton you can find free street parking on both sides of Fullerton nearly all the way from Clark to Halsted. That alone makes this an excellent neighborhood to explore!