Aaaah, Gitane: you wandering gypsy, you. With a menu that spans multiple cuisines, from French to Portuguese, North African to Spanish, there truly is something for everyone. The interior is also as eclectic as the menu with lush, velvety seating, tons of non-matching sconces and lighting fixtures, quaint outdoor seating in the alley (it’s more romantic than that sounds), and an extremely friendly and competent staff.
(One note: the interior is dimly lit which offers a "romantic" setting, though it can also be somewhat difficult to read a menu or visually enjoy your food. While my experience wasn't diminished for the ambiance, my apologies ahead of time for the dimness of the photos.)
While contemplating the menu, I stumbled upon three main choices: Bastilla, Chicken Tajine, and Ananas Roti. The pizza was a complete afterthought as I knew I'd only have one opportunity to eat at Gitane and pizza's one of my favorite foods.
I couldn’t help but inhale deeply once I saw the crispy-brown, powder sugar dusted pockets of phyllo that was the Bastilla. To say they were succulent would be an understatement. Rife with almonds, golden raisins, duck, chicken, and spices like cinnamon and cloves, the sweet and savory meat pies were sinful and it practically took an act of God to prevent me from licking the plate clean. In a lovely and unexpected treat, they’re served with a side of tagliatelle cut cucumber in a dill-yogurt sauce. It offered a bright note that cut cleanly and coolly through the tremendously decadent appetizer.
For my entrée, I selected the Chicken Tajine. To be honest, I haven’t shut up about this dish, or my entire experience at Gitane, since I ate there during my trip to San Francisco. This was, by far, the most incredible chicken I’ve ever had. The meat was so tender that I accidentally cut through it with my spoon while scooping off a part of the nearby potato. The Tajine featured large chunks of carrot, potato, zucchini, and several dried apricots that had been plumped to perfection in the incredible broth. Cinnamon and cloves along with the vegetable and chicken juices coat every last morsel of the buttery and golden-raisin topped couscous served alongside the Tajine. Even though I saved some of the Tajine for “leftovers”, I barely made it back to my hotel room without devouring the doggie bag contents.
The portabello mushroom and truffle oil pizza (the " Champignon") was pretty good. Not great or stunning, but pretty good. The toppings were definitely the highlight of the dish as the portabellos were thinly sliced and plentiful, the truffle oil was earthly and warming, and the overall flavor of the pizza was woodsy and mushroomy – just what you’d expect from a fungi fest. The crust was okay; certainly not the best, but far from the worst. It was somewhat flaky and very mildly flavored; thin enough to not overwhelm with dough, but crispy enough to offer a nice contrast in textures to the gooey cheese and heady mushroom strips.
The Ananas Roti was an unusually sized rectangular strip of white chocolate cheesecake topped with coconut crumble and served along with Tajine spiced pineapple and an incredibly thin dehydrated slice of pineapple as the headboard of this bed of deliciousness. The cheesecake was dense and creamy and the topping offered enough contrast to warrant its place on the plate, despite not adding much coconut flavor. The tajine spiced pineapple was tender and had spicy flavors that tied in beautifully the Moroccan flavors of the bastilla and chicken tajine.
For those of you who aren’t already aware, a special pet peeve of mine is seeing my water glass reach empty...and stay there. Ultimately, it bodes poorly for the waiter’s tip because it means they stopped paying attention to my table. That said, very special kudos to my waiter, Norm, who not only suggested exactly what I was already wanting to order, but was very attentive and never let my water glass empty (even though he provided me with a large bottle of water for all the self-help I could manage).
Without a doubt, this was the best meal I’ve ever had, even with the pizza crust being so-so. I’ve raved about it ever since and feel confident you will have a truly amazing dinner. I highly recommend Gitane and give it 5 Stars.