This little teacup, short and stout is how we began our Glass Brasserie experience. It is an amuse bouche of duck (soup?) something or other that tastes like a broth made lovingly over a stove at home. A few of us note that it reminds us of pho if pho stock was made with duck. We are a party of six tonight, four of us taking to organising this dinner as our own small little boycott of a certain law-related function. The other two begrudgingly complied to this writer’s
whining well-thought out arguments as to why they should spend upwards of $140 for a degustation meal on this Friday night.
Our first course is kingfish sashimi with ginger, eschallot and Persian feta. Sashimi is a very easy crowd pleaser. Combined with the fact that it’s such a light dish, it fits in very well in the scheme of a multiple course meal. We’re all seafood lovers at this table and quite enjoyed it. I was definitely a little apprehensive about the combination of feta and raw fish but I think the saltiness of the cheese was able to bring out the flavour of the sashimi the way soy sauce usually does.
This free range egg omelette of snow crab, enoki mushrooms with a herb salad and miso mustard broth is a Luke Mangan signature and after digging into it I understand why. Omelettes are still often perceived as lazy food or breakfast food. Time’s are changing though as notable chefs like Tetsuya, Bill Granger and even Gordon Ramsay have taken the humble ingredient, egg, to higher echelons. As a huge fan of soft-boiled, onsen, sunny-side up, scrambled and tamagoyaki, I definitely approve of this movement. Mangan’s omelette is my favourite dish of the night, quite a feat as I usually never even order omelettes for breakfast. It’s extremely fluffy with the right amount of crab to weigh it down, making it filling and decadent. The spices in the herb salad had such a strong Thai influence, a huge positive for me but I like my Thai food. The miso mustard broth didn’t taste very miso-y but I remember a slight spice kick potentially from the mustard. Or maybe I was just hallucinating and dreaming of tom yum with all that Thai herby goodness.
The next dish brought to our table is the snapper fillet, crispy prawn, Thai salad, spicy broth. Degustation menus can never do the food served justice. This dish was what made me realise how much Asian influence there is in the cooking here at Glass Brasserie, something which I did not pick up on despite numerous readings and re-readings of the menu (I was really excited).
Photo by Robert Newey
The fillet was pleasant but nothing particularly outstanding in my opinion, but perhaps I am just spoiled with having had a lot of good white fish. I quite liked the prawn, another bold statement coming from someone who doesn’t like battered seafood because it’s usually not very fresh. It wasn’t soggy or oily at all and definitely was not hiding a stale prawn. I’d eat heaps of these the way I’d demolish a bowl of chips.
I like trying meats that I don’t usually get to eat in my daily meals. This tea smoked quail with almond cream, prunes, grains, and woodland sorrel was definitely an interesting one. The quail was like a very soft and tender piece of chicken, and while I’m not the biggest fan of prunes I felt it really brought the cream together with the meat. My only complaint is that I wish my quail was larger!
The boys were all the biggest fans of this lamb rack with braised neck, salt baked celeriac, parsley purée and beets. Is a lamb rack a lamb rack if there’s only one rib? I was getting quite full at that point so perhaps this portion control was very much needed. I shared my little piece of braised neck with Robert and I think that’s the biggest act of love I have ever lavished upon him. It was so good!
Meal time break again so the boys are looking at something nerdy on Robert’s phone. The menu states ‘your choice of two cheese from the menu‘ but I think because we have such a large party, the restaurant just served us formidable chunks of all the cheese on offer. Another hit with everyone, the ubriaco (the middle one) is my favourite and the bits of black on top of it are skin, seeds and leftovers from the prosecco the cheese is bathed in. I usually adore blue cheeses as well but the one on the far left was far too strong for me.
Photo by Robert Newey
I don’t eat coconut based desserts and I do not like panna cotta. This isn’t a dietary or allergy requirement and I am disclosing this fact because it was definitely quite unbecoming of me to make menu changes based on something frivolous like my taste preference. A degustation is a journey, and where possible I try not to alter it too much because I know the chef had these exact dishes in mind. Despite my little princess moment, the restaurant was quite accommodating. I mentioned that I wanted a dessert change at the beginning and it was forgotten as the desserts were being brought out but quickly rectified by the waitress.
I ended up trying a little bit of this coconut panna cotta with pineapple, mango, raspberries and fennel in the end because I was so captivated by the aesthetics. No doubt this is gorgeous, if there is even any more contention with whether food presentation counts as art, this is the dish to prove it once and for all. Taste-wise, I was on the money about my preferences, I didn’t like it at all. But as I mentioned earlier, this just an inclination of mine. Tasting a bit of liquorice at the end truly sealed the deal for me and I am glad for my earlier request.
My replacement dessert is this giant dish of crème brulee which thankfully is quite shallow as I wouldn’t even come close to finishing otherwise. For something that is quite a common dessert item, Glass stands out for doing this quite well. There’s that all familiar satisfying crack when you shatter the top with your spoon which turns into delicious crunchy textures in your mouth amidst the creaminess. The vanilla is very pronounced in flavor, if not already visibly so. In the dark lighting of the restaurant I spy with my little eye traces of vanilla bean.
Overall we all had a very positive experience at Glass bar one very vital and very epic fail. When making the booking for 6 people at 6.30 pm, we were told multiple times that our booking only went till 8.30 pm. At that point we thought to go the path of a la carte as we weren’t sure if a degustation could be completed in two hours. When raising these concerns to our waiter, he replied that there would be no problem so we went along with our choice assuming it might be slightly rushed but ultimately we made our peace with it. Here’s the kicker, our degustation ended up going for a duration of five hours.
That’s three hours longer than the supposed duration of our booking time. We arrived at 6.30 pm and left close to 11.30 pm, around the time the wait staff began to set the table for breakfast the next day. That’s two hours longer than the average of most of my fine dining experiences. The staff did apologise at the end however stating that ‘we should be aware that degustation dinners take longer than most’ but I knew that! I know how long degustations take but five hours is plain ridiculous. This wasn’t something that had gone unnoticed throughout the meal. We had flagged wait staff more than once with a query as to where our next dish was, especially when over 45 minutes had passed between courses. I can think of no other explanation as to why our food took so long to arrive except that maybe some courses were delivered to the wrong table.
We left Glass feeling very tired and I felt bad particularly for my friends who lived very far from the city and had to do the long commute on a late bus. My criticism is solely my own personal opinion and I believe/sincerely hope that this is not the common practice at Glass. So if you like the look of the food and my commentary above, don’t let it deter you from visiting. The food was great and $140 makes it quite a reasonably priced degustation.