Glasserie on the Waterfront: Modern Mediterranean in Greenpoint
Going out to eat is definitely my favorite extra curricular activity, but more often than not I find myself not feeling so great afterwards. There is a blatant paradox in our Brooklyn food community that on one hand celebrates the local sustainable slow food movement, which in theory is a healthy diet, but on the other hand is an overindulgent “pig out” on fatty, greasy, meaty, fried-y food. Of course it tastes great – it’s bacon! But it doesn’t need to give you gout in order for it to taste amazing.
Glasserie (95 Commercial St), so named because it was a former glass factory on the northern end of Greenpoint, has unveiled a Modern Eastern Mediterranean inspired menu, a palate that is “not represented well in the landscape of contemporary restaurants,” according to head chef Sara Kramer, and especially not in Brooklyn, the bacon capital of the world.
Kramer described the coming together of this gorgeous restaurant between her and owner, Sara Conklin as a “stars aligning,” moment. Kramer, former sous chef at Wythe Hotels’ Reynards, and all of Tarlow’s restaurants as well as Blue Hill at Stone Barns comes from an Isreali and Peruvian background. For years she had wanted to bring her cooking “closer to home.”
Conklin who was the Director of Operations at Cipriani for 10 years, with a Lebanese background said “we both have our hearts in the Middle East.”
What they hope to provide according to Kramer is a “sustainable way of cooking and eating,” – something we can use more of in Brooklyn. The Mediterranean diet as we all know is traditionally one of the healthiest diets, but at Glasserie “tradition is not the point,” said Kramer who prepares Eastern Mediterranean food with a “more contemporary, modern edge,” on a “casual level with fresh ingredients that are skillfully prepared.”
“It’s hard to eat healthy in Brooklyn,” Conklin said, “it’s a weird phenomenon. It’s all about pigs.”
This “over the top” indulgent way of cooking is how you “get attention,” Kramer added, a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Culinary Institute, who says she loves cooking and eating vegetables. She feels that “good cooking in restaurants doesn’t have to slam you over the head with richness and flavor and acid and salt,” and while that kind of cooking “has its place,” she finds there is “not enough subtlety and care.”
You won’t miss the bacon at Glasserie. For starters the Lamb & Bulgur Croquettes were perfectly fried and not greasy. Imagine a meaty and richer falafel with a creamy dill and cilantro dipping sauce you want to lick clean off the plate.
Don’t overlook the monumental salad as I called it! This dish had everything I loved eating as a child: fava beans, garlic and kholrabi. The kholrabi was unexpectedly grilled, which brought out its sweetness but still maintained its crunchy texture. Along with fava beans over fresh greens, simply dressed with bursts of garlic, it’s perfect on a summer menu.
The main course, Chicken with Black Chickpeas and Cilantro was some of the most perfectly charred and tender chicken I’ve had. While the black chickpeas added an interesting color and texture, they didn’t stand up on their own, but the cilantro and fresh peas in the creamy but light tarragon broth was the perfect chicken soaking sauce.
There are a lot of dishes on the menu with sauces you will want to sop up, which is where a killer side dish comes in: Flaky Bread, which Kramer called “the jam.” A common street food found everywhere in the Middle East, it’s definitely the most buttery dish prepared on a hot skillet alongside a cool yogurt sauce with mint and a salty, spicy mustard relish on top.
The interiors of Glasserie are as fresh and inviting as the menu. A long wall of green succulents welcomes you to the bright spacious bar. Conklin said she was originally looking for a space in Bed-Stuy, but when she saw the Greenpoint space, rich with glassmaking history and the romantic cobblestone alley way that goes all the way out to the Newtown Creek, which she described as having a “Berlin 1910” feel, she knew this was the spot for her restaurant.
At the Cornell Glass Museum, Conklin dug up original drawings of glass made at the factory and scanned and framed them for the space and preserved an old kiln and basin in the alley, where she hopes to also host private events.
While cocktail bars and bacon joints open up one after the other, Glasserie is definitely exploring a much healthier, vegetable forward, sustainable but still inventive and satisfying dining experience in North Brooklyn. It’s the perfect place I plan to bring my Mom for a ladies lunch and the kind of restaurant you can visit again and again because you leave feeling like you ate something not only good tasting, but good for you.