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Greenwich Village atmosphere makes The Garden of Eating an appealing, intimiate spot

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The Garden of Eating

212-02 Union Turnpike, Bayside

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There’s a little bit of Greenwich Village on Union Turnpike. The Garden of Eating seats just 35. It’s cozy and as intimately lit as a Greenwich village restaurant tends to be. And it has a brick wall and one exhibiting oils by local artists. And that as you know is de rigeur as is the blackboard listing appetizers, wines and beers.

Burgundy cloths are brightened with pink napkins used as throws. And there is music and that’s expected. On Friday and Saturday night, a guitarist jazzes along and sings tunes from yester year.

From which country is the food my dinner companion asked as we drove along Union Turnpike looking for 212th Street. “Organic,” I replied. And the Village is where organic all began. At The Garden of Eating’s beer is organic, too.

When we stepped into the dining room, about 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday, the guitarist was seated there playing and that’s nice. Early diners are not treated as second class citizens. Up front there’s a trio of tables flanking the glassed-in counter displaying an array of tempting layer cakes. They’re sliced for dessert or an afternoon treat for those who stop by.

Two brothers, Mark and Anthony Lagos, bought the 25-year-old Garden of Eating five years ago, and added to the ambiance as well as brunch on Saturday and Sundays, wraps and more wraps-chicken, shrimp, Greek and veggie served over wild or brown rice. Burgers became more bountiful — 13 in all.

But we were interested in dinner and we were impressed. I oohed and aahed over the plate of veggies a neighboring diner was manipulating with chop sticks (nice idea) and ordered the starter size “Oriental wok fried veggies.” Well, the green pepper strips were cooked better than I had ever tasted them, There’s seasonal fruit by cup or bowl with raisins. (Why is fruit as a starter missing from most menus these days? )

There’s crisp snow peas and water chestnuts, which tempted me. Crispy fried potato shells with crabmeat and melted cheddar got me. And I loved it — just the bare, thin, crisp skin and all that crab underneath melted cheese.

Her entrée choice, an interesting item included in the specials, was sliced pork with rice and beans and the house salad. Here the salad is double plated. (You empty the salad in the glass bowl into the glass plate, add the dressing on the-side and toss merrily.)

Organic pasta (which despite years of testing and tasting I hadn’t tried before) had a menu listing all its own. So, it was time to order a chicken pasta dish of twists. It was rather remarkable. The twists were sturdy and ultra satisfying with huge pieces of grilled chicken and whole dried tomatoes, centered on a huge flat dinner plate tapped with twists in marinara sauce.

But the menu abounds with seafood, steak and chicken prepared in innovative, tasteful but not bizarre ways by Garden of Eating’s Greek chef. Here’s a restaurant perfect for twosomes and familiar with vegetarians and there are so many.

The vegetarian selections were intriguing: a Mediterranean platter of grilled vegetables, served with kasha, cous cous and humus. Marinated tofu sandwich of lemon herbed tofu layered with roasted vegetables, lettuce and a smear of pesto in wholewheat pita and a house salad. Vegetable filo pie — the Greek type pastry layered with roasted vegetables. And there are burgers, 13 in all, from chili con burger topped with chili and chopped onions to portobello, turkey, salmon and chicken.

When we left, another guitarist was strumming behind the counter, but we couldn’t resist the layer cake array. We took out a sampling and if you’re passionate about chocolate, toodle over pronto to The Garden of Eating. There are four knockouts: A dense mud cake. A chocolate torte. A chocolate cheese cake that is divinely smooth and rich with a touch of sour cream tartness.

All in all, The Garden of Eating is a little treasure.

P.S. The takeout menu proclaims: “Waiters on the Run.” In house, I’d like a bit of a breather between courses.

The Bottom Line

A delightful bit of Greenwich Village on Union Turnpike. Excellent organic American Cuisine. Guitarist on Friday and Saturday night. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Chef's Choice

Coconut Shrimp.... $9.95

Sautéed Portobello Mushrooms...$5.95

Butcher's Choice (a juicy and tender prime cut of char broiled steak served with steamed vegetables and house salad and choice of rice or potato).,.$12.95

Santa Fe Wrap (avocado, grilled chicken and onions, served with cup of soup and choice of lettuce and tomato, French fries or Cole slaw)...$8.95

Broiled North Atlantic Salmon fillets...$16.95

Popeye’s Spinach Helper (saute grilled chicken with onions and garlic, green peppers, mushrooms and spinach)...$12.95

A Mediterranean Vegetable platter (grilled vegetables served with cous cous, kasha and hummus)...S10.95

Sinful Chocolate Mousse.... $4.95

No Sugar Apple Pie....$4.95

Cuisine: American/organic

Setting: Greenwich Village

Service: Speedy

Hours: Seven days L C P. Brunch on Sat & Sun

Reservations: Yes

Parking: Street

Location: Between Bell Blvd & Clearview Exp

Dress: Casual

Credit cards All major. No Discover

Private parties: To 35

Noise Level: Moderate

Smoking: No

Music: Guitarist Fri & Sat

Children: Own Menu

Wheelchair access: Yes

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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