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Garden Cafe, Prospect Heights/Brooklyn?

We are thinking of venturing to Brooklyn for our next splurge-ish dinner. So far we have gone to Gordon Ramsey, The Modern Dining Room, Robuchon and Allen & Delancey. I am in the camp that likes the River Cafe. We read some posts on the Garden Cafe.

Your thoughts on the Garden Cafe?

Thanks in advance.


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  1. If the owners are into it (& last time we were there they werent & were talking about closing down... they did not look very inspired (or interested) any longer... I only recently heard that they remained open), the Garden Cafe is a very nice place to have dinner. But, in my opinion, it is not a "splurge-ish" dinner place. It is a very small room, romantic in a laid back quiet way, with a very limited menu of well prepared food. I've always enjoyed myself there but, given your other named places, this is not in the same league. For something approaching what you're looking for, I'd recommend Tempo. The owners are ex-River Cafe (albeit years ago) and the place has a good feel to it.... style & class. The food's excellent and they have a deep well priced wine list, with knowledgeable staff. Although other Brooklyn places (Saul, Grocery, Applewood, Dressler, Convivium & Henry's End as examples) are very worthwhile, I think Tempo stands out as an overall dining experience, more similar to what you're describing. Of course, it doesnt take much for me to also push Henry's End, especially now that the game menu is going strong. But that's a very different atmosphere. Let us know what you choose... I'm always interested in feedback from folks who come into Brooklyn just to eat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Steve R

      Thanks, Steve R. We thought about Saul and my dining companion has already been to Henry's End. I have many friends who love Dressler but it sounds like more of an every day place. I'll mention Tempo to her.

      We will report back.

    2. The Garden Café is unlike any of the restaurants you listed. It is a mom and pop operation (he in Kitchen, she with a helper out front). There are 11 tables and a small ever changing menu and wine list (only have a wine license, no spirits). We love this place and think it's great for a romantic special occasion dinner. Special, but less fancy than most of the restaurants you mention (expect to pay less than $100 pp). Note that someone recently reported that the chef had a knee operation, and at least one night, they had to cancel reservations because he was unable to cook, so check if that might be a problem.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bobjbkln

        bobjbkin, thanks for your thoughts. Yes, Garden Cafe is different then places we have been. We are looking for excellent food, atmosphere and price are less important. Falai is probably my current NYC favorite and it is a tiny place, somewhat under the radar scene. I am getting concerned that we may be too late to try Garden Cafe . . .

      2. I'm pretty sure it's closed. I saw it for sale on a real estate website.

        7 Replies
        1. re: lanamonster

          lanamonster, we read recent posts that the closure has not happened yet.

            1. re: jen kalb

              They clearly have given up on (or changed their mind about) selling it. The Craigslist ad is long gone, the For Sale sign on the building has disappeared. In fact, when we called for a reservation in January, they _claimed_ that the "rumor" of them selling was not true. For the most part we felt that the food and atmosphere was up to their previous standard.

              1. re: bobjbkln

                they are still open. the food is solid, the space charming and the service relaxed and inviting. Is it the best food in Park Slope/Prospect Heights? No, I don't think so. Not terribly inventive, but just solid, well made dishes. They also have a during the week special, I think it's $35 for 3 courses or something similar.

                1. re: ginsbera

                  IIRC it's better than that. $28 for two courses, $32 for three.

                    1. re: ginsbera

                      Thanks everyone. We have a reservation for April and will report back on our experience.

          1. could you please post the address and phone number of garden cafe?

            1 Reply
            1. re: kennycandy


              Garden Cafe
              620 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

            2. Garden Cafe is open and strong!

              We just had a wonderful dinner at Garden Cafe. I will write a better report tomorrow, but right now I just wanted all of you who think this place is closed or not as good as before, to know that those rumors are simply false. Every single bite was happiness.

              Detailed information will follow tomorrow.

              We love Tempo, we like James a lot (except it is very noisy and id you want to dine after 7 - 7.30 PM on Friday or Saturday, you often have to wait for a table for 20-50 minutes), and we really, really, really like Garden Cafe; which is just solid, adult, romantic, quiet, friendly and offers very, very good food. Not modern or experimental, but just consistently delicious and fresh.

              1. Definitely skip Garden Cafe, it's not going to knock your socks off. Dressler the food is MUCH more interesting. Saul, Applewood, Al di La, even Convivium would all be much higher on my list for restaurants worth the schlep. Also the omakase at Taro sushi for a different kind of splurge. Garden Cafe is just not a stand-out, IMO.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Mandymac

                  As some who has been going to the Garden Café for over 20 years, I humbly disagree with you. I have been to all of your alternatives (except Dressler) many times and I continue to think the GC is a standout. You are right that in many ways it is the least "interesting" of the restaurants you mention, but as FoodWine states it is an "adult" dining place, a mixture of both homeliness and elegance. I think fdr will not regret her (his?) dinner choice.

                  1. re: bobjbkln

                    I sort of agree with Mandymac. Although I can understand why some people like the Garden Cafe, I was not to crazy about my meal there. My wife and I went for my birthday a couple of years ago and the whole experience was just not that special. The restaurant felt old and tired and we found the food uninspired. I could see establishing a warm feeling for the place if I lived near by and made a semi-regular visit- a very good if unspectacular neighborhood place- but I did not find it right for a special occasion.

                  2. re: Mandymac

                    We have changed our reservation and are now going to Saul. I will try Garden Cafe with my SO . . .

                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      Thanks again for all your help and suggestions.

                      My friend got sick and we cancelled our reservation at Saul and are returning this week. I will do a search of this Board for recent posts. Has anyone been recently? As always would appreciate any suggestions on "must haves," etc.

                      Once this dinner finally happens I will report back.

                  3. We went to Saul last night and enjoyed it very much:


                    Will report back after we try some of the other suggestions. Thanks everyone.