When it comes to dining I prefer to be completely submissive; just bring me what you recommend, tell me in which order to dig in, what wine to drink alongside, whether your desserts are even worth it. I’ll just sit there and start smiling. Some of my favorite Berlin restaurants – I’m looking at you, Dos Palillos – do this extremely well, serving up tiny dish after tiny dish, each different enough to warrant its own course, each successively leaving just enough room for the culinary onslaught to come so that by the end you’re completely satisfied, even though you’ve only eaten tiny bites.
It also ensures that chefs can serve what they want, what they deem is in season, what they found on the market that morning, what they believe are excellent contrasting or accompanying flavors; it’s like watching a great television series in exact order. This of course demands your chef is trustworthy, that he’ll surprise you pleasantly. This you never know in advance, not unless somebody tells you. Now, although I’d seen exactly one blurry Instagram of Glass‘ chef Gal Ben Moshe’s “Candy Box” dessert, I knew I had to try it, take a leap of foodie faith, and behold, an invitation for a dinner arrived!
Heading out west for exciting (non-Chinatown) food seems oxymoronic, and Ben Moshe explained it was the space that brought him here (that and the fact that he lives nearby and did not want to spend his precious free time commuting). Glass‘ space is certainly striking; on a quiet stretch of Uhlandstrasse, the restaurant lies a little back from the street in an entirely glass-enclosed space that used to be a fitness studio. Inside, the kitchen occupies a central spot, with silvery surfaces surrounding it that refract the diners, the restaurant’s big white neon sign, and the concrete 70s planters outside. This expanse of glass and reflections also means that the helpful staff are a bit conspicuous – there’s hardly any room for them to wait in the wings – and that the tables stand out a little, less modern or stark than the glass enclosure would suggest (or demand).
Still, we’re here for the food, and it certainly looks exciting – an agedashi-style eggplant ball served on a smoking cinnamon stick, for instance – but it isn’t until a few courses in that the assorted flavors start to pop. Sure, the gazpacho worked well with a scoop of mustardy goodness and the vegetarian ajoblanco was also lovely and almondy, but it wasn’t until I had my bite of salmon topped with flaky salt and served on a tantalizing combination of black sesame, orange and avocado that my delight set in (it seems the non-vegetarian menu is to be recommended, unlike at the admittedly far spendier Tim Raue, where vegetarians can expect to be just as delighted as their less conscience-ridden companions). After this, the evening found its groove – perhaps also as we started to see the “Candy Box” being served at the tables around us.
This, as you’ll perhaps have gotten to try at Glass or at their cameo appearance at Bite Club, is sheer fun, with all manner of sweets scattered across your very table, nitrogen ‘smoke’ streaming all over as the chef himself insta-freezes chocolate mousse right at your table. After all those tiny, healthy bits, this is the point in the evening when your hunger should be satisfied, when carbs and sugars and childhood memories are all mixed up as you push your fork around the table and fight the other diners for that last cube of perfectly toasted marshmallow.
All photos: Mary Scherpe