Plush patisserie the Glass Knife spares no expense in offering the finest

Plush patisserie the Glass Knife spares no expense in offering the finest
Photo by Jessica Bryce Young
The Glass Knife
276 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park

The Vegas-style digs of the most luxe café/bake shop this city has ever seen are unquestionably designed to impress. I mean, where else will you find a 2,100-pound gold-hued light fixture? Or an 18-seat communal table carved from American walnut? Or pricey porcelain cups and saucers from New Zealand's Acme & Co.? Or diamond-patterned terrazzo floors embedded with chips of crushed glass knives? It seems the Glass Knife, by founder/owner/tech CEO Steve Brown, is blinged out in the hopes Mariah Carey will one day annex the pink-walled patisserie as part of her crib. He's clearly spared no expense dressing up his "homage to a bygone era," and I can tell you that after numerous visits here, there's no cause to dress it down.

I'm not saying it's perfect, but at least the folks here try to be. The ordering process, for example, requires a little explanation which they're happy to give: Place your order, take a number, then pay your server only after you're done eating. Or you can go back up to the counter and pay. Oh, and if you want to order something else, like a cake, cookie or pastry, you can just ask your server, I think, and they'll bring it to you. Or something. Whatever. One thing you should know: They run out of doughnuts fairly quickly – I've become addicted to their plain glazed doughnut ($3), so I would know. Pairing it with a pour-over of the El Trapiche Geisha ($5.50) – a honey-processed coffee by Onyx Coffee Labs, with whom they have an exclusive agreement – is breakfast bliss. Brett Ware, one of the city's finest authorities on all things Arabica, stands behind the minimalist brewing system fashioned by Modbar, pouring and pulling fresh brews much to the delight of bean buffs.

Then there's executive chef Stuart Whitfield, whose résumé includes stints at Le Cirque, the Four Seasons NYC, David Burke & Donatella, and Walt Disney World. His cake creations are dazzling, and hold your gaze like Mimi does on New Year's Eve. There's the berries and cream ($8), with its flawless glaçage resembling the wax enveloping a round of Gouda. The strawberry cake is woven with raspberry pâte de fruit, lemon curd and vanilla bean white-chocolate mousse topped with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Other indulgences we've been enraptured by: a "petite cake" of chocolate salted caramel ($10) crowned with gilded popcorn; a gorgeous chocolate onyx pastry ($) in all its coffee crunch and creamy gold-dusted glory (bonus: it also resembles a poop emoji); and a slab of vanilla-vanilla ($8) cake, an ideal sweet ending to a savory meal.

Oh yes, savory items are also served here – some are pedestrian, like the egg salad sandwich on a sturdy (not flaky) multigrain croissant ($9), while others, like the chicken pot pie ($12) bring a wow factor. The pie is beautifully baked in a rectangular cast-iron dish with fresh spring peas, carrots and rainbow potatoes, topped with a generous sheet of pastry. A bowl of creamy roasted tomato-cheese soup ($7) veers slightly sweet, but that doesn't take away from its comforting qualities.

click to enlarge Plush patisserie the Glass Knife spares no expense in offering the finest
Photo by Rob Bartlett

Savory items are served during breakfast as well – an avocado-egg toast ($11) with tomato confit and lemon crème fraîche, and a cheddar biscuit sandwich ($10) layered with egg soufflé and applewood-smoked bacon, served us well on one visit.

There's a lovely patio area with translucent roof panels to keep light in and the sun out, as well as retractable side panels that block out the setting sun and traffic noise on South Orlando Avenue. And it's dog-friendly. Ain't that just icing on the cake.


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