Not having attended Gabrielle's in Essex for several years, after noting that they had expanded their usual Sunday brunch menu for Mother's day, we decided it was high time to pay a return visit. It looked as though many others had the same idea since the restaurant was nearly full when we walked in at noon. The dark green decor with bronzed woodwork hints at elegance and their menu, considerably more ambitious than on our previous visits, looks as though it is striving for the same goal.
Having had breakfast at home, we skipped the bruncheon items and went straight to the main menu. It was hard to bypass a salad named "Pretty Girl Greens", but the tomato soup with smoked bacon, gorgonzola and basil creme fraiche not only sounded but tasted delicious, even though the gorgonzola was hard to detect. I settled for the Cast Iron Skillet Seared Lamb Top Round which came presliced on a bed of sauteed greens and yukon mashed potatoes with basil, parmesan and apricot-mint preserve adornments. My wife opted for the Fire Roasted Filet of Beef with roasted asparagus and mashed potatoes with gorganzola and green onions mixed in. Both dishes were top notch with meat cooked exactly as requested, and pleasingly presented. The wine list had a larger than usual number of varieties by the glass, my Pinot Noir was pleasant enough (there were also Merlots for those not subscribing to the "Sideways" dictum) and as a far outside thought, I liked the shape of the water and wine glasses.
Too stuffed to continue with dessert, we couldn't help noticing the party at the next table enjoying theirs since the noise level was fairly high. (A recent internet post stated that some restauranteurs condone noisy rooms since it makes customers drink more and eat faster!) It took a little longer than usual to get the check because of the crush.
It seems that Gabrielle's has regained the landmark status that their predecessor in that 78 Main St. Centerbrook/Essex location enjoyed, and I heartily recommend this restaurant to anyone in the vicinity of the lower Connecticut valley. Their website is http://www.gabrielles.net/ which lists several 50% off specials early in the week.