Moody Gainsbourg's good for a drink and a bite
Gainsbourg is mainly a watering hole in Greenwood, but it also offers a decent menu with French-inspired small plates that include a charcuterie platter, hot and cheesy croque monsieurs, a savory French onion soup and a satisfying beet salad.
Seattle Times staff reporter
8550 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle, 206-781-2224
Hours: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. daily. Starting April 2: 4 p.m.-2 a.m.; and open at noon on weekends beginning April 11.
Etc: Street parking, major credit cards; full bar; no obstacles to access.
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The namesake of Greenwood's Gainsbourg is a heavy-lidded French music icon whose visage adorns the walls of the darkly lit cocktail lounge; whose music may be playing in the background; and whose Frenchness is celebrated in the small plates, vintage décor and subtitled movies projected on one wall.
A notorious drinker and smoker linked with such beauties as Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, Serge Gainsbourg is a particularly easy bar muse.
Co-owner Hannah Levin, who's also a KEXP DJ and Seattle Weekly columnist, considers Gainsbourg mainly a watering hole. But the cocktail lounge also offers a decent menu with food she and partner JJ Wandler might offer to guests in their home.
More authentic French food can be found elsewhere, but when seated in a cozy booth lit by a boat-shaped lamp, I was not going to deny myself the classic French onion soup or the beet salad.
The menu: The French- inspired small plates include a charcuterie platter ($9); hot and cheesy ham sandwiches called croque monsieurs ($6); and roasted Brussels sprouts ($6). Our prompt, helpful server recommended at least four or five plates for two people to fill up for a meal.
What to write home about: A bowl of French onion soup ($5) topped with a crouton and cheese was rich and savory, and the beet salad ($6) satisfied with crisp, toasted hazelnuts and crumbled blue cheese drizzled with bacon vinaigrette ($6). A panko-crusted Poisson and Frites combination ($9) — moist fish and crisp fries — was fragrant with herbs and came with a tarragon rémoulade.
What to skip: The Oysters Gainsbourg ($7) — a creamy mix of crab, oysters and onion — tasted more of crab than oyster; the seafood flavor might not be for everyone. The menu also would benefit from a baguette upgrade — to bread with a crunchy crust instead of the soft slices served.
The setting: Gainsbourg edges toward romantic, with a cozy seating area in front, exposed brick, a candelabra on one table and chandeliers overhead.
Summing up: Like most places with small plates, the menu appears reasonably priced but can add up quickly for a full meal. Our five plates totaled $33 before tax, tip and cocktails. But its moody glamour is lovely for lounging with friends, grabbing a bite and brushing up on your Francais.
Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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