First Look: GLAS, a tribute to locally-sourced cuisine on Queen East
By Anna Silman
Quinoa with wild nettle, walnuts and a spring onion purée (Images: Anna Silman)
Dan Pantano, chef and owner of Leslieville’s newly-opened GLAS Restaurant, has lived and worked across the globe, cooking in Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy and acting as personal chef for high-flyers in London. But his first solo venture diverges from that jet-setting past, finding its roots squarely in the local. At GLAS, a homegrown ethos is at the heart of everything Pantano does, from the fresh ingredients sourced from neighbourhood purveyors to the local artists showcased on the walls.
GLAS, which opened in June in the spot formerly occupied by Frankly Eatery, is an ingredient-driven restaurant, with seasonal flavours taken from local markets and city farmers, including the nearby Leslieville Farmers’ Market. And as the seasons shift, so will Pantano’s cuisine.
The menu, which operates on a small plates concept, is “in constant evolution,” Pantano says, with the offerings changing literally from day to day depending on what he can get his hands on.
When we visited, some of the offerings included veggie quinoa ($8, pictured above) with wild nettle, walnuts and a spring onion purée; herb-crusted Kolapore Springs trout ($14) with a spinach and potato purée; and a roast Ontario duck breast ($14) with Jerusalem artichoke, Niagara cherries and micro greens.
Meat comes from the nearby Sausage Partners, while fish is selected from Hooked. Add to this a wine list featuring only Ontario wines, and it becomes clear that Pantano is deeply committed to his locavore ethos.
“Everything I’m using comes right from my backyard,” he says. “I use what I have.”
Just like the “humble ingredients” he showcases, the restaurant’s set-up is equally modest: at lunch, it’s a one-man operation, with Pantano acting as maître d’, waiter, chef and manager simultaneously (for dinner, he gets help from a server and a dishwasher). Likewise, the restaurant is a petite 20 seats, and the kitchen is equally minute, without any fancy appliances.
A pragmatist, Pantano has no over-the-top ambitions for GLAS. He simply sees it as a place with a “really good neighbourhood feel,” with good food and good service, where Leslievillers can come in for dinner and a glass of wine for a reasonable price.
Despite the simplicity at the heart of the operation, Pantano’s Michelin-starred training is evident in the care and attention shown in his plating.
“I think there should be a push towards elegance in food. Elegance is very important to me,” he says. “I think elegance is just as important as the quality of the food.”
GLAS Restaurant, 1118 Queen St. E., 647-351-4527