Nihilists beware: there are still reasons to explore dead end streets in this city of roads so very well traveled.
And, sipping your saffron cocktail by flickering candlelight at Glasserie in Greenpoint, you are reminded how delicious the endeavour of discovery can be.
At the diminutive, North-western most point of its hulking borough, where the Newtown Creek meets the East River, is a quiet meeting of cobblestone and historic industrial edifices that, despite being within a hair’s breadth of gentrification, has a sleepy realness.
Tucked into a space inside a huge, mid-19th Century glass works factory building (which is it shares with the original outpost of the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory), Glasserie has composed itself perfectly into an inviting antique cottage of the machine age. Rustic wood, industrial metal light fixtures, antique silverware, drying herbs and huge glass jars full of house cured olives and salt crackling herb-roasted nuts, are all part of the warmly charming atmosphere.
Was that a saffron-infused gin and tonic that we mentioned, you ask?
Oh my was it.
The wafting scents of dinner might have your mouth watering, but we suggest relaxing and taking your time at Glasserie. After all, it took you a long walk from the subway or ferry dock (or a long cab) to get here, and each element has been so thoughtfully brought together – whether the antique prints on the walls, the dusting of an exotic spice across a plate, or a fresh leaf placed delicately upon the edge of a glass – that it deserves some time to fully enjoy.
Part of taking your time means savoring one of their many, seasonally driven cocktails (and perhaps snacking on the afore mentioned, perilously addictive roasted nuts) as you pour over the menu. An opulent supply of house-infused liquors, syrups and local herbs informs nearly every cocktail on the menu, but it was the rose blossom bees knees that stole our hearts. What might just be the perfect segue from summer to autumn, Glasserie’s own rose blossom vodka brings an enlivened blush to the old school cocktail, garnished tenderly with edible rose buds (though, learn from us and don’t actually eat them).
The Glasserie staff is gregarious and enthusiastic about the Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean influences of the locally sourced fare, dreamed up owner, Sara Conklin and chef, Eldad Shem Tov’s, collaborative spirit. To enhance the leisure pace of your indulgence here, we suggest you let your server guide you through your meal, as Kendal expertly did for us on our visit.
There is an intuitive, comforting nature to the way each dish is seasoned and put together, and the presentation is gracefully casual, reminding us of how inspiring fresh ingredients and a chef’s adoration of them can simply be.
Case and point: the stewed fava beans and chickpeas are a cross between a warm, layered, hummus-like dip and a luscious, rich stew, that is gathered up in the crispy, salty, little boats of fried potato husks. An heirloom tomato salad with triangles of Syrian cheese, dusted with za’atar—a spice that gently evokes the exotic desert, like the wrapping of a caftan—was the ideal balance of fresh vegetal zing, warm spice, and the buoyantly light but rich cheese.
It was impossible to stop ordering from the “small things” section of the menu, where every single dish seemed to wave at us exuberantly with its unlikely twists and perfectly enlightened ingredient combinations. And, tearing into the wonderfully fluffy flat bread that glistened with grill marks, we didn’t even try to hold back.
Still, it is advisable to save room for dessert. Simple-sounding, but artfully complex (though it comes as no surprise after such a procession of cocktails and plates), we were guided to the “yogurt parfait” which promised fresh, tart yogurt and end of summer berries. Yet, we couldn’t have prepared ourselves for the gorgeous mounds of yogurt semmifreddo dressed up by broken sheets of delicate merengue and floating over a pool of intensely red, fresh berry sauce. Despite how much we’d eaten already, we were battling spoons over every last scrape of the plate and already planning our next visit.
– Ava Fedorov
Photographs by Jeff Owens for Socially Superlative
Chef: Eldad Shem Tov
General Manager: Sara Conklin