The most surprising thing about Glasserie does not have to do with the inventive menu or carefully designed dining room. No, the biggest stand-out when I arrived was how many suit-and-tie-wearing Manhattanites were eating dinner on a deserted stretch of Greenpoint waterfront. I figured that, whatever it was that brought these well-heeled types out to dine in a former glass factory, it must have been good.
There were Brooklynites too, at home in earth-toned dining room which feels like the cutting edge of borough design: low-lit, simple and understated. Wooden tables surround a central bar and servers have room to move quickly in the spacious hall.
Regardless of where you are coming from, you might start with flaky bread ($6), a small serving of buttery, griddled flatbread not much bigger than a pancake. It is best accompanied by a small bowl of thick labneh ($4) and a dollop of spiced tomato sauce, our first hint of chef Sara Kramer’s admiration for spice.
The dishes that follow, all carefully accented, please just as much. A bowl filled with tiny halves of baby eggplant, Asian pear, and pine nuts is streaked with chevre and well-seasoned with earthy spices ($14). Chef Kramer also has a thing for dairy, so yogurt, labneh and soft cheeses appear in many of the options. A dish of rice comes with yogurt, mushrooms and nettles ($18) and a chicken entree ($17) is served with almond milk.
The simpler dishes on the menu are clean, controlled and well balanced. A bowl of grilled tomatoes, sweet corn, peach, basil, and yogurt ($13) tasted as though it came straight from a backyard grill and screamed of summer in early autumn. Lamb is served raw as lamb tartar with olives, cucumber and glassy slates of crackers made from bulghur ($15). The lamb at first seemed like a gamey choice for raw meat, but its flavor is clean and surprisingly light, perfect for spooning onto the crispy crackers.
Greater complexity, still well-executed, was showcased in a bowl of scallops ($19) nestled in a hearty, deep broth. Sweet and gently cooked, they sat atop wax beans, pumpkin seeds and an unusual but pleasing roasted cantaloupe. Also surprising was a cloud-like cardamom semifreddo dessert that was a winner like the rest.
Glasserie is expensive for this side of the East River, but the thoughtfulness of the menu, the playfulness chef Kramer shows with spice and flavor, and the technique put into each and every dish makes Glasserie a welcome addition to the growing food scene on the Greenpoint waterfront.
[Glasserie, 95 Commercial St., between Box Street and Manhattan Ave. in Greenpoint. (718) 389–0640, www.glasserienyc.com]