Restaurateur Franck LeClerc is gracing the city with another gorgeous dining room, this time it’s the chic ~GASPAR BRASSERIE~, in the FiDi’s former Hecho (in the Galleria Park Hotel building). When you first walk in, there’s a bar downstairs with tufted red panels and a few seats, plus a dining area with a deep red banquette and classic bentwood chairs. It’s the more “casual” of the two.
Climb the stairs, past the striped wall into the upstairs bar area and dining room. It has a darker look, with little flashes of brass from the rails and red from the banquettes. It’s the kind of space that makes you go, “Oooooh, this is cool.” The lighting is sexy and atmospheric (check out the different vintage chandeliers—some have a fun midcentury look), and you’ll notice many textures in the room, like the hand-painted ceiling, the patterned panels on the upstairs bar, the tiles surrounding the downstairs bar, and the screens dividing the rooms. This place is built for dates, but it’s also a handsome and classic space (not froufrou at all). There are 115 seats in all, and LeClerc worked with architect Elmer Lin of Consortium Design on the swish design.
The executive chef is Chris Jones (previously Brix and the girl & the fig), who has built a brasserie menu with some California seasonality: there are eye-catching starters (like the smoked salmon mille crêpes, which is like a savory layer cake topped with sieved egg) to a grand plateau of seafood to the more rustic lamb sweetbreads. Escargot with housemade bacon, check. Mains range from chickpea panisse cakes with marinated Roquefort to wild flounder grenobloise to an entrecôte (all less than $30). These dishes have more elegance than the classic bistro fare you typically find around the city.
If you just want to come in for a bite and an aperitif, you can do that, too—there’s quite an array of items on the bar menu (including a burger), plus plenty of cheeses and housemade charcuterie as well.
Last week we broke the news that Chucky Dugo (previously Slanted Door Group) is the pastry chef; you can look at his enticing dessert menu here.
Whether you choose the more casual downstairs bar or the upstairs bar (it’s called the Cognac Room, which is the larger bar area), you’ll have an exciting list of beverage options from bar manager Kevin Diedrich, who will be pouring a variety of “low octane” Champagne cocktails as well as higher-proof Parisian-inspired cocktails. There’s a wonderful crusta (made with a pear Calvados by Christian Drouin), and there will be some special Cognacs and other unique offerings, like the crème de noyaux by Tempus Fugit (you’ll find it in the Claret Snap and Pink Squirrel). The wine list by wine director Sarah Knoefler will highlight classic French wines, with a focus on Rhone Valley varieties, and there are a number available by the glass and carafe.
Hours are dinner Mon-Sat 4pm-11pm and happy hour Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm, with plans to open for lunch, Sunday dinner, late-night dining, and brunch in the coming months.
The downstairs bar at Gaspar. Photo by R. Brad Knipstein Photography.