Verveine Cafe & Bakery will open in Cambridge on Monday


Restaurants

Boston chef and restaurateur Ken Oringer and award-winning pastry chef Monica Glass have reunited.

Verveine Cafe & Bakery will open Monday on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, reuniting Boston chef and restaurateur Ken Oringer with award-winning pastry chef Monica Glass.

After starting her career around 2012 working in some of New York City’s finest kitchens, including Gotham Bar & Grill and Le Bernardin, Glass, a Philly native, moved to Boston, providing Oringer’s flagship Back Bay restaurant Clio with desserts. After a move back to Philadelphia, Glass finds herself returned to New England to auteur Verveine in partnership with Oringer.

“We are equal partners,” Glass told Boston.com. “Ken has worked on everything with me apart from the cooking. The design represents both of us,” the Food Network’s Chopped 2021 Sweets Champion added.

Located a block or so from Oringer’s Little Donkey tapas styled restaurant on Mass. Ave. in Central Square, Verveine’s interior design, done in collaboration with Tyler Youngblood of Niemitz Design Group and Joe Stromer of Joe the Architect, pairs shades of moss and sage green with tan for an earthy look.

“We added a lot of plants, a lot of greenery,” said Glass. “It’s an earthy Boho Parisian vibe: Quite eclectic and vintage.”

The main counter of the 24-seat cafe (which will expand with 22 more seats when the patio opens) pairs teal tile with a granite top, and a vintage glass window separates the bakery’s kitchen from the cafe.

“The other cool thing is a vintage reclaimed piece of wood which has been made into the communal table,” she continued. “We also found some vintage French school chairs in Connecticut. And we found an old church pew.”

Glass added some very personal elements, too: her grandparents’ china.

“I’ve had it for years, sitting in my basement. It’s very special — it’s mix and match. They got them on their travels through Japan, Spain, and Germany,” she said.

Oringer and Glass share an interest in gluten free cooking — Glass has celiac disease, which is linked to modern engineered high gluten wheat flours. Glass developed her own WLDFLR flour brand and favors tasty naturally gluten free grains like buckwheat, millet, oat, and brown rice flours.

“I am trying to elevate breads with different flavors and textures,”
she said.

Babka. – Brooke Elmore

Breads baked daily in house include pain au levain, sourdough ciabatta, focaccia, and Japanese milk bread. Baked goodies include strawberry chamomile doughnuts made with rice flour, tapioca, and dried milk powder. Glass does a vegan doughnut, too.

“We’ll also be doing doughnut drops, hot and fresh at certain times of the day. We’ll just put that out on social media,” she said.

There are also purple yam brownies with “a nice earthiness and such a vibrant color,” said Glass. And black sesame croissants, which “have a black sesame praline as a nice gooey filling.”

Open for breakfast through late afternoon, the menu will include sandwiches, salad and grain bowls, toasts, quiches, and a rotating Neapolitan style pizza of the day made with a speciality flour sourced from Naples and exclusive to Verveine in the United States.

“Now the space feels real it is emotional,” Glass said as opening day neared. “It makes me happy. I want people to dine together and feel welcome and safe.”

Verveine Cafe & Bakery is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
and weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 298 Massachusetts Ave.,
Cambridge. www.verveinecafe.com