Glas, which translates to 'green' as Gaeilge, is a relatively new kid on the block. This chic eatery opened up just off Grafton Street in October of last year.
I walk out of the freezing February rain, under their bright orange awning and through the dark, richly green doors of Glas as quickly as I can. The only booking I could get was an early one (5:45pm), seated at the bar. But I'm more than cool with that, to be honest, because it's a great place to people-watch and your crucial drink order times are cut down dramatically.
I look through the short but interesting vegetarian and vegan menu whilst waiting for my 'partner in dine' to arrive. She is running a bit late which is always a bit awkward when you’re at the bar seated solo with an empty set place beside you, looking like a Tinder/Bumble/Grindr date has just stood you up.
The wine and drinks list is extensive with loads of options on there to suit all boozy requirements. Our seats are our's until 7pm but the friendly front of house very soundly came up and tells me that If we were to stay a bit longer then he could move some bookings around and that we could stay until 8:30pm if we wanted - a nice touch as there's nothing worse than anxiously eating against the clock in a busy restaurant. It’s an absolute buzzkill.
My dining pal arrives and we order appetisers and mains that both of us are willing to share. This is the best option for me food-wise as I’m so indecisive, especially when the options all look good, which in this case they do. We briefly chat to the barman who hears our order and expertly recommends a couple of glasses of Domaine Des Anges - a deliciously zesty, French, vegan white wine from a vineyard owned by an Irishman no less.
The starters are out fast - mine being the vegan sweetcorn and jalapeno fritters, which are beautifully light, crisp and have clearly just been freshly made to order. They come with an avocado and lime purée which is more tart than I expected but compliments the sweet, perfectly spicy corn fritters really well. It comes with a crushed goji berry and quinoa salad which is so f*cking good that I’d have happily had a plate of that alone as a starter.
My friend's white truffle and forrest mushroom pâté has more of a tapenade consistency but has a seriously intense deep, earthy mushroom flavour. It comes served with some crisp honeycombed pan de cristal which is the ideal vessel for the consumption of pâté but the quince and tomato chutney is what brings the whole appetiser to the next level. The quince is freshly pulped with some ripe and fruity tomato segments which make this a chutney I will never forget - so far so good.
After a solid start, we’re on to the mains. Out of curiosity, I order the king oyster vegan scallops that come with samphire and a pickled cucumber salad, lemon purée, peanut brittle and sake apples. The scallops are, in fact, cross-sections of the stem of an oyster mushroom that has been expertly prepared, marinaded, scored and pan-seared in the same manner as their bivalve mollusc counterparts and I’m gobsmacked at how incredibly tasty this dish is. There’s zero shellfish FOMO here! I can’t get over how similar the taste and texture is to real scallops. The peanut brittle works so well as a medium to get the shroom-based scallop with a nice mound of the bright green samphire, which is the freshest and greenest I’ve ever eaten, with a dab of the lemon purée and some sake apple for an absolute mouthgasm of food. This dish is a showstopper, end of. This is such a step-up from the usual fried "Tofish" or the likes that you see offered on most vegan menus.
My friend's baked Portimarron squash is equally impressive and after she prises the scallops off me, I get stuck into this hearty main course dish. If any of you out there feel that vegetarian food isn’t filling enough then you really need to try this dish. It’s ballsy, hearty and more than substantial as a meal. The squash is the best I’ve ever eaten, an orange quarter-moon of pure happiness. It’s rich and baked to perfection with a beautiful char on the edges. The grilled spring onions are sweet and smokey and the reduced vegetable jus is bursting with umami. The smoked pimento flavour really comes through on the squash and the rosti is a handmade grated piece of potato perfection. It’s topped with a perfectly soft poached, then breadcrumbed, then crisp-fried hen's egg, which results in a stunning piece of unctuous yolk-porn. This is an absolute banger of a dish. Thank God we agreed to share as I would have been genuinely upset if I’d missed out on this. We order an unnecessary side of polenta and chickpea fries that were crisp, tasty but pretty heavy compared to regular chips. The fermented vegan black garlic mayo was so immensely flavourful that I had to be stopped from putting the entire ramekin of it into my pocket to take home.
Both amply full from the previous dishes, we struggle on in the name of gluttony and order some desserts to finish off the evening. I order the Tropical Eton Mess and my friend orders the lemon drizzle cake. It’s worth mentioning that there’s some great dairy-based dessert options on the menu too, including a Jersey Milk Vanilla Panna Cotta, as well as a selection of cheese. The Eton mess is a little on the small side portion-wise. The broken pieces of chickpea meringue atop some sweet passion fruit sorbet with passion fruit and pineapple salsa is a nice refreshing dessert but a bit too sweet for me. My friend's lemon drizzle cake is small and really dense in texture and is pretty standard fare as far as these cakes tend to go. The treacle and mascarpone ice cream, however, is creamy, luscious and incredible. The ice cream along with the lime tuile helps elevate this uneventful cake of lemon drizzle. All desserts on the menu are €8 a pop which, for me, seems a bit too expensive for what you get. The desserts are good but for the guts of a tenner, they really need to be great.
All in all, Glas was an excellent dining experience. Its tastefully-designed art deco with a slight 60’s New York/Parisian styled interior has an immediately warm and welcoming feeling. I love that the tables and are thoughtfully spaced out instead of trying to cram as many into the space as possible, which a lot of places do are guilty of. The atmosphere within any restaurant (or pub for that matter) is something that cannot be bought and both the owners and staff have really made Glas a cut above the rest. The slick but comfortable vintage furniture, the vibrant green adornments around the restaurant, the cool upbeat tunes playing at a perfect level in the background all combine to make a really memorable dining experience as well, of course, as the most important element - the incredible food.
Many vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Dublin that I’ve visited have more of a casual café than a ‘night out’ feel to them. If you brought a group of friends or family here for a special occasion, I think everyone would be happy - vegans and carnivores alike! Glas have described themselves as "the vegetarian and vegan restaurant for everyone to enjoy."
I think that that it is, quite simply, an outstanding restaurant.
Wine: €9.5 Glass/€38 Bottle