I went to a beer can collectors meet in New Jersey today to sign books (and signed quite a few -- good bunch of folks, and thanks to John Ahrens for the invite!), and got out about 1:30. Lunchtime, and I asked where was good in the area. They directed me to a nearby branch of The Office, and I was going to go there -- happily: they're a local chain that does a nice job on their beer -- but I got to thinking: I still haven't visited all the breweries in New Jersey.
So I opened a copy of New Jersey Breweries and took a look at the map. Trap Rock was closest, and I'm intrigued by the place -- lots of beer geeks say 'too fancy,' and I was dressed for the place, having gone to the meet directly from cantoring at 10:30 mass -- but they don't open till 4 on Sundays. Next closest on the "to do" list: Gaslight, in South Orange. Open? Check. Worthy menu? They smoke their own meats; check! I hit the road, and about 20 minutes later, I was parked and walking down a cold, windy street to Gaslight.
I walked into the bar, saw the open dining area to the right, the cozier dining room in the back...and well, you know, I sat down at the bar. Got a Black Gold Oatmeal Stout (4.7%, all the parts in the right place, good pint), and ordered the fresh mozzarella platter (fresh mozz, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and grilled garlic foccacia: excellent) and the pastrami reuben, an open-faced beauty made with the house-smoked pastrami. It smelled fantastic, tasted great (lean, smoky, peppery...luscious), and was so honking big I took half home for tomorrow [and it was almost as good re-heated!]. I had a glass of Big Dog Porter with the reuben, and that was good -- and clearly different from the stout, a very good sign.
The place was warm and comfortable, service was quick and personable. I've seen a number of very negative reviews of the Gaslight online, all centering on atmosphere and service, and I'm not sure why. I didn't see any of it, although it does sound that it centers mainly on the owner, which means one of two things: the owner is an issue, or someone's disgruntled. Until further personal experience -- which I intend to get, if only to try more of them smoked meats (and I got one of the house-made landjäger to go) -- I'll withhold an opinion on that (and I'm not going to have the comments section turn into another slagging spot, so don't bother).
I can only talk about what happened to me, which was great. Delicious food, competent and enjoyable beer, a good selection of guest craft beers, a very impressive selection of whiskies, and smart, efficient service. Good day at the Gaslight. Wish I had some pictures, but I left the camera at home today.