The Glass Onion is named after a Lennon/McCartney-penned Beatles song from the "White Album." The restaurant's philosophy is lifted from this lyric: "Where everything flows. Looking through the bent backed tulips, to see how the other half live." When we met some friends there a couple of weekends ago, seems that the other half was there, as well as the other, other half. I'm talking standing room only.
The building formerly housed Lilly's Dim Sum, and the first thing you notice about the Glass Onion is the change in character. The restaurant now has gleaming hardwood floors, an additional dining room, and a bar area. The atmosphere is casual -- dim lighting, neon signs -- and I would guess it seats about 60. Though we had to wait for a table, we whiled away the time at the bar, which had plenty of available seats.
To start the meal, we tried the coconut-battered shrimp, which was served with a pineapple, jalapeno, green onion, green pepper, and cilantro relish. This sweet, robust relish enhanced the shrimp without overpowering it and gave an island feel to a chilly evening. We also ordered the three-onion pastry, which came in a wonton wrapper rather the standard phyllo dough. I think the wrapper is a better choice because its texture handled the caramelized onions, shallot, and sherry glaze and kept this creation contained in a perfect little package that looked as wonderful as it tasted.
There are three salads on the menu: Caesar, Greek, and Italian. The traditional Caesar -- romaine, fresh Parmesan, and homemade buttery croutons -- is a sure thing. I also really enjoyed the Greek salad with the crumbled feta cheese, kalamata olives, sliced green peppers, and pecans. I would never have thought to add pecans with feta (goat cheese, sure, but not feta). The crunchy nuts really enhanced this salad. The Italian salad, meanwhile, was a simple bed of greens with prosciutto and anchovies.
For our first entrÇe, we had the tasso-stuffed shrimp. (Tasso is smoked pork that is highly seasoned.) This dish came on a bed of melt-in-your-mouth Gouda cheese grits and six large Gulf shrimp drizzled with a garlic cream sauce that calmed the spiciness of the tasso and enhanced the sweet flavor of the shrimp. Terrific, though it should have been served warmer. Next up: the chicken breast marinated in beef juice. This succulent bird came served over a Thai curry risotto with mint yogurt to cool the curry.
The special this evening was a large filet of halibut with lobster sauce. The mild fish was prepared perfectly -- flaky but not overcooked. It came with cheese potatoes topped with crunchy fried noodles. It tasted great. Of course, we couldn't resist the peanut-butter pork chops. (Curious, we asked the waitress how it was prepared, and she told us that the chops are smothered in peanut butter prior to cooking.) The two large chops were accompanied by a sweet cinnamon-brushed grilled banana and a spicy apple slaw. This dish is a must-try. Its only flaw is the slaw. While I love spicy food, I would suggest the preparers ease up on the pepper. The side was beautiful with fettuccini noodles, cabbage, red peppers, and apples, but I found it too strong and almost inedible.
Desserts are not listed on the menu because they are made from scratch and change frequently. On this night we ordered one of each of the offerings: pecan pie, amaretto cheesecake, Oreo cheesecake, and Snicker pie. All the desserts are worthy of mentioning and tasting. Just be careful to not fill up before you get to them.
The Glass Onion is a nice addition to the Cooper-Young neighborhood. It's a place that stretches to meet that "other half" with its creative menu and welcoming vibe. Enjoy it. n
The Glass Onion is located at 903 South Cooper Street (274-5151). Reservations are not required. Lunch is served until 5 p.m.; dinner is served from 5 to 10 p.m.; and the after-dinner menu 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Lunch prices range from $5 to $6.50; dinner $6.50 to $17; and appetizers and salads $4 to $8. Separate checks for parties over six are not permitted, and gratuity will be automatically added.