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Going to Garden Cafe and seeking recommendations

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Garden Cafe is mentioned many times on this board but not many specifics about the menu are given. I understand the menu changes regularly, but I'm going this weekend and would love to know of any recommendations from people who have dined there recently. Wine list suggestions are welcome too.

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  1. I went to the Garden Cafe at the recommendation of fellow chowhounders and was absolutely delighted! Everything on the menu is fabulous, but I've really been craving both the scallops poached in butter and the shrimp appetizer over the last week. I don't think you will be disappointed by any of the options.

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    1. re: mindburrp

      Thanks for the suggestions. Well, we went last night and weren't disappointed. I've been to many of the supposedly good, semi-upscale Brooklyn places and this one definetely stood out. I guess menu-wise it comes closest to Grocery or Saul and Garden Cafe has the slight edge over both of those.

      The menu changes often so this review may not be super helpful in terms of food, but the atmosphere/general experience info might be. We arrived a few minutes early and our table was ready. As a person who hates a lack of respect for reservations - as often happens at nicer Brooklyn places - this was a major plus. The place is very small - nine tables - and quiet. Seating is not cramped as at Grocery. The atmosphere is quite refined, which I think is rare in Brooklyn finer dining. The feel is very much like being in someone's house.

      So to start, my husband had seared foie gras with quince-poached pears. This was nice although I feel like as a menu innovation it was lacking. I feel like I've been eating foie gras with some sort of quince and pear for years now. Still it was tasty, not the best foie gras but good. (although I don't much care for Moutarde, their foie gras appetizer is excellent). I had an Asian-style consomme with crab and glass noodles. This was more creative and very tasty. My only complaint is that a large , hot bowl of noodle soup is a time-consuming thing to eat - especially without chopsticks for the noodles - and consequently the foie gras was gone long before the soup and the entrees were ready before I was. Generally speaking, it is not possible to say "I don't want to rush you..." without then rushing someone.

      Main courses: my husband had rack of venison on a bed of mashed sweet potato with some sort of berry reduction over it and a few green beans. It was very nice - tender and well-cooked. Very sweet though which might not be to everyone's taste. I had a red snapper which was poached in truffles and butter and over bok choy (I think) and rice. This was all delicious - great piece of fish, cooked well, and you can't go wrong with truffles and butter. The rice was fine but it was just plain white rice, somehwat sticky (perhaps an Asian accent to complement the Asian cabbage?). I think it could have been a bit more exciting. It ws a bit stodgy and kind of sucked up the sauce. Some sort of subtle and creative risotto would have been nice. (or even forget the rice altogether, add more greens...)

      We had no dessert. Bottle of Kermit Lynch Cotes Du Rhone, a fair price at $28. Overall a good experience and definitely a recommendation for romance or low-key visitors eg family. However as always I was looking to be blown away and find my perfect Brooklyn restaurant., which didn't happen. I'm still a die-hard Al Di La fan (I know, apples and oranges...).

      My husband's two cents: portions could be bigger.

    2. I'm going the to Garden Cafe this week for the first time. Anyone been there recently, and any must-try dishes? Thanks!

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      1. re: coho

        The menu is very small and changes often (perhaps daily). I don't think you can go wrong no matter what you order, but it would be hard to make a recommendation.