It’s Growing Season All Year Long At The Garden on Grand
It would be tough to write about The Garden on Grand without using the word “oasis” at least once. No, the neighborhood isn’t a food desert—just the opposite, in fact—but this new South Grand restaurant has verdant décor and a wholesome menu make it feel like a place where you’d come to be revived and restored.
The refreshing impression started for us the moment we ducked in from a drizzly evening after a very long workweek. The staff seemed genuinely happy to see us, which may have had something to do with the short time the restaurant had been open (only a week, we later learned). They need not have worried; all the seats were full by the time we left.
The serenity continued as we absorbed the lush houseplants and beautifully cut and finished wood used for the tables and the long bar. The features seem like they’ve been there forever, one of the hallmarks of a successful renovation. The pace of the meal was unhurried and made unwinding easy.
For owner Cevin Lee, the guiding concept during those long months of renovation had less to do with décor and service and more to do with the kind of food he wanted to serve—healthy and simple international fusion dishes, with an emphasis on local and sustainable produce. The culinary version of an oasis.
Executive Chef Kore Wilbert puts Lee’s vision into action with impressive creativity, plus the award-winning chef brings his own flair for international dishes, especially from the Mediterranean. His pistachio-encrusted salmon with a very impressive feta-lemon-herb risotto seems destined to become a signature dish, but there’s also tempura-battered chicken, filet steak seared on cast iron, and duck that’s both roasted (the breast) and confited (the leg and thigh), served with potato hash, caramelized orange, onion brûlée and sautéed kale.
The dinner entrées are just the tip of the iceberg. Wilbert also offers a diverse list of appetizers like pickled vegetables, ginger-coconut wings, baby kale salad and cashew and almond hummus. The latter had the texture down to a T, but the flavors benefitted from the add-ins like cucumber emulsion, feta, oil-cured olives, and bread crisps. Crispy shrimp rolls added tasty Asian influences—a reminder that Lee’s family owns the Hong Kong Express next door, a longtime South Grand staple.
Then there’s breakfast, which is Wilbert’s most Americanized meal of the day. It features steak and eggs, omelets, biscuits and gravy, pancakes or waffles and a fruit-yogurt-granola parfait. Still, starting the day off in an oasis would have its upside—and the 7am opening time makes that a definite possibility.
Any good oasis centers on water, and The Garden on Grand makes a point of filtering it to ensure quality and flavor. In some situations, it would have been satisfying enough—but after our server told us the bar had something like 80 options for drinks, we plunged into the cocktail list. In keeping with the food themes, the drinks have plenty of international fusion going on.
Among the most popular are the Brexit (Hendrick’s gin with pucker-y lemon and rhubarb) and the Irish apple mule (with Jameson Irish whiskey, apple liqueur and ginger beer). The vote for most fun goes to the ”liquor-infused sorbetto aperitifs”—which quickly became known in the local online food blogs as boozy smoothies. One of the standouts is Beets by Berry, using (yes, really) beet and berry sorbet from a local producer with tequila Avión and a garnish of lovely, juicy blackberries.
There’s also a selection of local beers from brewers like Four Hands and Schlafly, plus national brands like Rogue Dead Guy ale. On the wine side, things are more international (try the Quinta de Vale de Pios Excomungado from Portugal), and the sustainability theme returns (try the Snoqualmie Riesling from Washington state to taste the results of a sustainable and organic winemaking process).
As the days turn colder, The Garden on Grand is going to feel even more like an urban oasis with its bright greenery and warmly hospitable staff.
Tips for a top-notch experience at The Garden on Grand
Top dish: Pistachio-encrusted salmon with feta-lemon-herb risotto, microgreens and asparagus purée.
Popular pour: The Brexit, with the lip-smacking flavors of rhubarb liqueur, lemon juice and sparkling wine over a base of Hendrick’s gin (which is technically Scottish, not British, but going there could open a whole different political argument).
Best place to perch: Beside the cheerful cascades of greenery along the northern wall.
Insider tip: The kitchen closes at 10pm, but there’s still a late-night menu on Fridays and Saturdays—a welcome, healthier alternative to the typical dining options at that time of night.
Where to go
The Garden on Grand
2245 S. Grand Blvd.
Hours: Tues.-Thurs. 7am-2pm, 5-10pm; Fri. 7am-2pm, 5-11:30pm; Sat. 10am-2pm, 5-11:30pm; Sun. 10am-3pm