There were hints of something familiar throughout our excellent meal at Glasserie, so far out at the edge of Greenpoint that it’s basically in Queens,. It was there in the grilled radishes (above), lightly cooked and sitting on a bed of whipped feta, sprinkled with a dusting of za’atar. It was there in the thick labne, a strained yogurt, scooped up with a freshly made chunk of flaky bread. It was in the miniature pastries, studded with sesame seeds and filled with a salty cheese. It was there in the dark chocolate tart, made with a sesame crust and topped with sesame whipped cream. So when Donny came back from the kitchen, where he had been visiting with his friend Chef Sara Kramer, and mentioned that she is half Israeli and is trying to recreate dishes from her childhood, everything came into focus.
Those cheese pastries were reminiscent of borekas, the piping hot cheese-filled pockets of dough available throughout Jerusalem. That chocolate tart (sent to us free of charge, along with a yogurt and strawberry dessert and some wine, thanks to Donny’s connection) reminded me of those dense, jaw-breaking sesame candies we used to eat as kids at Jewish day camp, imported from (where else?) Israel.
I didn’t get any sense of Israel in my entree (and there are several vegetarian ones), simply called Red Potatoes, Spanish Cheese, and a Soft Egg. But that’s where a chef’s artistic license comes in; I don’t doubt that the dish has some specific memory for Kramer, and it’s damned tasty. The cooking was so confident and assured that night that it was easy to forget that the restaurant was barely three days old.
In a city where Italian restaurants seem to pop up on every corner, and European cooking dominates the high-end dining scene, it’s refreshing to see someone doing exciting things with Middle Eastern-influenced food. So yeah, Glasserie is worth the trek out to the edge of Greenpoint — even if you’ve never been to Israel, or to Jewish day camp.
Glasserie — 95 Commercial St