Last month, Glaze by Sasa became simply Glaze after parting ways with sushi chef Wayne Conwell, the Sushi Sasa owner who had partnered with the bakery in June to provide full dinner service with a Japanese theme. Glaze co-owner Heather Alcott hired chef Kris Padalino to head the savory side of things (there's already a full staff of pastry experts who turn out the baum cakes and other delights) and temporarily pulled back to a lunch menu only. Padalino's creations, which will also be offered for dinner starting in March, cover a light and playful blend of Asian-inspired dishes with house-baked flourishes. This is her first shot at creating a full menu of entrees after years as a pastry chef, but her resume includes Bittersweet and Jax Fish House, so she's no stranger to top kitchens.
Japanese touches continue to pepper the new menu, which is fitting since the centerpiece of Glaze is a Japanese rotisserie pastry oven that cooks baum cakes on wooden spits over gas flame. Padalino puts that oven to work with her pretzel lobster roll, a hollow cylinder of of chewy pretzel bread stuffed with lobster salad punched up with green curry and pickled Asian pear batons. She's also baking her own yeast-risen bao buns (something you don't see much of around Denver) for her riff on Chinese pork belly bao buns stuffed with fat slabs of braised Tendy Belly pork — there's also a vegetarian version of the dish.
A spicy Altantic salmon tartare brings the flavors back to Japan with a wasabi and creme fraiche mousse. Fresh blackberries nestled into the cured salmon provide a burst of fruit and acidity. There's also a pork udon bowl, a shitake mushroom salad with sesame ginger vinaigrette and a beautifully plated dish of sesame chicken with green matcha tea waffles drizzled with ginger syrup and dotted with honey butter.
The menu isn't entirely Asian though: a soup list incudes lobster bisque and a classic French onion, while macaroni and cheese made with gruyere, a trenne pasta dish, and mussels with house-made chorizo and polenta fries round out the entrees. Desserts, of course, are a specialty of the house; a decadent new baum-cake bread pudding with the kitchen's own vanilla ice cream and lightly salty butterscotch sauce has been added to the list of baum-based treats.
Alcott says the focus is on perfecting lunch for the neighborhood right now and that a sidewalk patio will be added in the near future. She's been working with new purveyors — Fresh Guys for produce and Seattle Fish Company for live lobster, for example — to ensure quality and flavor. The bakery side of the business continues to do well; she says this year they're having fun with a Valentine's Day macaron made with prickly pear juice from her business partner's New Mexico ranch.