Glasserie (95 Commercial St) has been operating for less than a year and already it’s caused a significant stir amongst NYC foodies. When Sara Conklin opened the restaurant last summer it rapidly gained a glowing reputation for its modern Eastern Mediterranean food served in the beautiful setting of a former glass factory at the northernmost tip of Greenpoint.
In February of this year, original chef Sara Kramer moved on to pursue new projects and Eldad Shem Tov came onboard to take over in the kitchen. Eldad’s impressive culinary past includes time at Alain Ducasse, Per Se, and WD-50 in New York, as well as a stint under René Redzepi at Copenhagen’s Noma, recently voted the Best Restaurant in the World.
Sara Conklin was thrilled to have Eldad join the team and tells us that he wholeheartedly shares her vision for Glasserie. “It is our goal that each dish has soul” she says. “A lot of his flavors and inspiration come from the natural product in its unmanipulated form. He is more interested in letting this shine through than masking it with spices and sauces. We want an ingredient to be real.”
When Sara invited Greenpointers to come and try out the spring menu, it goes without saying that we were very excited.
On a gorgeous spring Saturday, Jen and I slip into a sunlit window seat and choose cocktails from an alluring menu devised by Matthew Fogarty and Matthew Gramberg. My Tripoli (Montenegro, Prosecco and Pineau des Charantes) is refreshing and twisty. Jen’s Persian Gold (gin, tonic, lemon and saffron) instantly proves itself a prime contender for the official drink of summer.
As the first few plates arrive at our table, we start to understand Eldad’s food philosophy. His ingredients may not be over-manipulated, but the dishes are inventive in flavor, visually stunning, and showcase an incredible talent for elevating the humblest of produce to star-status.
A beautiful assembly of Syrian Cheese with Pickled Beets smuggles fiddlehead ferns amongst wedges of unusually textured cow’s cheese, while a zesty dish of Yellowfin Crudo with Kumquat and Pink Grapefruit comes in a plucky dressing of neon-green jalapeño oil with a dusting of magenta rose petal fragments.
The winning combination of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors are just part of the overall Glasserie experience.”The geographical regions that our food pays homage to has a deep culture of generosity, warmth and hospitality” says Sara. “The staff, the space itself and the food should all exude this. The menu is meant to be shared among friends and family.”
Next comes Skewered Halibut and Tuna Belly served on a smoking cinnamon stick that is reminiscent of a high-end gyro and wafts wonderful aromas as it’s carried to our table. It’s presented alongside Braised Onions with Arugula Yoghurt and Orange Blossom Cipollini. The sweet onion sheaths are stuffed with herbs, dates and brown bulgur, and topped with unusual black crisps which Sara divulges are actually charred leek tops. “The process takes many hours and involves a dehydrator…I’ll keep the secret at that!”
Just when Eldad’s lovingly executed vegetables are on the brink of stealing the show, his meat and fish dishes prove themselves equally magnificent.
The Lamb Rib with Swiss Chard and Persian Lemon Crème Fraîche is tender and melty. The Poached Halibut glossily flakes apart on contact, complimented by cauliflower puree, date honey and soft-roasted fennel. We team the fish with a glass of fragrant Croatian white wine, salad of fresh herbs topped with edible flowers and some famous Glasserie Flatbread (recently noted in Grub Street as one of the city’s finest restaurant breads).
I also love the Roasted Cauliflower with House-made Soft Cheese and the Fried Potato Husks (served cutely in a brown paper bag) with a Fava Bean and Chickpea dip topped with mint, preserved lemons and a big slug of olive oil.
Dessert is a light & oxygenated yogurt assembly which somehow manages to leave us feeling delightfully refreshed. It is layered with silan date honey, star anise and a pistachio and cardamom nougatine. The date and semolina cookie on the side reminds me of a sophisticated fig newton.
By the time we leave the restaurant, the serene, sunlit space that greeted us earlier has transformed into vibrant nighttime oasis in an otherwise sleepy corner of the neighborhood.
“Greenpoint has been so welcoming to us. The team and I are very grateful for this” says Sara.
Having already built an incredible reputation for Glasserie in under a year, Sara’s ideas for the restaurant continue to drive things forward in an exciting way, including “grand plans for evolving the brunch menu”.
The beautiful terrace and courtyard space is re-opening for the summer and is the perfect environment for sampling their new brunch. The big news this year is that it will also be available to hire for private events. “It’s really a unique space,” says Sara “and the reason I fell in love with the location initially.”
Judging by the host of adoring crowds as we leave, it’s evident that Sara is not the only one caught up in a love affair with the restaurant. As we slip out into the quiet night air, we both feel extremely proud that Greenpoint is home to such an incredible place as Glasserie.