Naglee Park Garage, definitely worth checking out
We've been meaning to try the Garage bistro in San Jose, and tonight was perfect . . . long day, late meeting, looking for something a cut above but not too fancy.
The Naglee Park garage is at the old Freddie's ice cream location on 10th and San Carlos. You order at the counter and then the servers bring your dinner. There are a handful of tables inside and a few on the patio.
I had a half chicken and my husband had trout. There were lots of interesting choices including tritip, lamb chops. The menu is basic, but covers enough ground. Sides are a la care. We shared roast potatoes and brussel sprouts. My husband had a draft Fat Tire and I had a glass of pinot grigio ordinaire. When I went to the counter to get my second glass of wine, the servers suggested that next time I just wave and they'd come by.
Louis, the cook, makes everything behind the counter in full view. The food was well prepared, tasty and satisfying. The only thing I thought was missing was bread. I saw some baguettes, and I'm wondering if maybe we were just missed . . . our server said she was new. In any event, we had more than enough to eat. And it's hard to argue with the prices: The whole thing with a beer and two glasses of wine came in under $50 including the tip.
The place is warm, quirky and friendly. Louis came and introduced himself. Once a month there's live music, and once a month there's an outdoor movie. If you were traveling abroad and you found a place like this, you'd send postcards home.
San Jose could use more places like this. Any place could.
As a regular customer of Naglee Park I have to agree that while the basic concept was a good one, the execution of late has been a bit lax. The chef is seldom there anymore and it feels like the place is on the slide. Music and movies are nice touches but the desserts need work and far too often menu items are not availible. sometimes it is just easier to get a couple of hotdogs next door. A menu refresh is in order.
Two years later:
The Naglee Park Garage is a great neighborhood hangout, a classic "third place."
The landscaped courtyard is a good alternative to the cramped interior.
The outdoor movies and live music are nice touches.
The three owners are there a lot, keeping an eye on things.
But the food is hit-and-miss, and the service is also spotty.
It takes too long to put your order in -- the line is often long and usually very slow moving.
Bread is only given with soup (and maybe with salad?, and then it's just one slice that comes out with the food, rather than being there to nosh on from the beginning.
The concept is wonderful, but the execution is not consistent.
Quality control seems to be a foreign notion.
Louis, the chef, admits to being bored with his gig.
Maybe its time to revitalize the operation.