Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gibraltar is not just for seafood!

After having driven by it for years now, and even having poked my head in once or twice to survey the atmosphere, it was time - time to hang up my preferred uniform of casual jeans, don dress slacks, and pay a visit to Gibraltar, the Mediterranean-inspired fine dining establishment.

It’s tucked into a small cluster of unremarkable business buildings along Harrisburg Pike, which belies the transformative space within that’s classically appealing and well-designed. On the positive side, though, parking is free and plentiful.

Walking through the dimly lit and draped dining room, it felt formal. Couple that with the astute and punctilious service, and it seemed a place I would take some corporate executives to entertain and broker a deal rather than meeting up with girlfriends for a loud and chatty night out.

Unlike times when I’m completely uninspired by the menu and have to choose something, anything, I found the menu at Gibraltar utterly enticing, with a wonderful balance between classical and innovative. It was particularly difficult to decide just what I would evaluate that evening; I was in the mood for it all. But it is clear that seafood is Gibraltar’s specialty. But land lovers should fear not because there were certainly enough divine choices for them as well.

We finally settled on the Housemade Gnocchi ($18) as a shared starter, followed by one of the special entrees – Red Grouper ($29) and their Sesame Seared Tuna ($28).

The gnocchi was stupendous. Folded into a mixture of wild mushroom ragout, mascarpone cheese, and topped with shaved parmesan reggiano and a drizzling of white truffle oil, it was rich and sumptuous without leaving a heaviness that one would expect from something so wonderfully creamy. The texture of the gnocchi was so smooth and malleable, it allowed for the melding of the other flavors to integrate wholly, and I could have stopped right then and there, and gone home on cloud nine.

It was hard to beat that dish, and while I can’t say that the following entrees did, I can say that they were still expertly prepared and discriminately enjoyable.

The Red Grouper was pan-seared with a slight crusting to it that gave it a nice texture and additional flavor. It was served atop an inventive sautéed vegetable medley of spinach, zucchini, butternut squash, and white beans. The sauté was quite enjoyable alone, but lent the Grouper another layer of flavor that carried well with its mildness.

Next up, the Sesame Seared Tuna, ordered rare. Beautiful steaks of tuna were rolled in sesame seeds and seared so that its circumference was just cooked, but leaving the trademark ruby-red core. It was served with Asian-inspired sides of sticky rice cake, asian slaw, wasabi and pickled ginger. All of these elements lent a duality of flavors famous in Asian cuisine – sour and sweet, spicy and cool, salty and sweet. Excellent combination of tastes and textures.

There is no doubt that Gibraltar is the seafood czar of Lancaster. It is the best I’ve had around so far. But don’t discount the other items on the menu as being secondary offerings; they can be phenomenal. As for me, I’m looking forward to trying the other unique dishes on the menu. It’s just going to be hard for me to pass up that Gnocchi.


931 Harrisburg Ave, Lancaster

(717) 397-2790

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