Glasz Cafe is a treat for eyes and palate

January 27, 1995|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Restaurant Critic

The Glasz Cafe is almost a parody of the high-style, ultra-chic, completely PC, overpriced espresso bar -- except that the place is so beautiful and the food is so good. Notice I mention its looks first: This is a business where image is everything.

At the Glasz Cafe (pronounce the "z" as a separate syllable), the chocolate mousse is decorated with sprinkles made of real gold. The coffee is imported from Seattle, espresso bar capital of the world. If you want to buy a Glasz Cafe coffee mug, it will cost you $24. (OK, I agree that it's a work of art.)

The drinks case doesn't contain any soda, but there are four trendy brands of spring water along with the all-natural fruit drinks. Proceeds from the stylish chocolate bars benefit the rain forests.

Sandwiches like turkey and chicken salad are labeled "Standard Fare" on the menu. You can almost hear the sneer. The "House Specialties" sandwiches are made with goat cheese, artichoke hearts, pesto, roasted peppers, balsamic vinaigrette and the like.

The Glasz Cafe is primarily a gourmet carryout, but tables and chairs will be coming soon. Meanwhile if you want to eat in, you sit at the tiled counters that run along one wall and window.

The cafe's highly designed, contemporary decor is done in warm earth tones -- lots of terra cotta and metallics -- with a handsome tile floor, whimsical murals of New Age shapes and jazzy light fixtures. No wonder it looks so good: The owner is Sonny #F Glassner, who also owns the interior design firm Louis Mazor Inc. next door.

The baked goods come from Gourmet Bakeries, Sweet Indulgences and Happy Endings; the prepared foods are the work of Nona Neilsen-Parker of Culinary Capers Catering. I'm not a big fan of the gourmet-to-go concept; too often the food is overpriced and not very good. But just about everything we tried was delicious -- quesadillas made with chopped shrimp, black olives, Monterey jack and sour cream; Jamaican lentils with sweet potatoes and mango chutney; an appealing pasta and chicken in a light coating of barbecue sauce; garlic-scented mashed potatoes and rutabagas; superb gourmet pizzas (but microwaving makes for a mushy crust) and snow peas mixed with baby green beans.

What I'm looking forward to trying next time: the risotto cakes studded with peas; spanakopita; stuffed grape leaves; and the mixed root vegetables, including beets, sweet potatoes and carrots.

Unfortunately the system isn't set up to be speedy, and the staff isn't geared toward serving eat-in customers. The wait was interminable as each item was measured out and microwaved separately. What should be gourmet fast food isn't; luckily the setting is so handsome you almost don't mind waiting.

Glasz Cafe

Where: 6080 Falls Road

Hours: Monday to Friday 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Credit cards accepted: Not yet

Features: Sandwiches, gourmet prepared foods

Non-smoking section? No smoking allowed

Call: (410) 377-9060

Prices: $3-$10

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