My husband and I were celebrating an anniversary last week, so we started the evening with cocktails. I had the gin with celery root, beet, blood orange, and pink peppercorn, which was tangy, slightly vegetal and well-balanced. My husband had the bourbon, maple, brown butter, pecan with urfa (a chili grown in the Urfa region of Turkey). I am not a bourbon drinker, so I did not try his drink, but he was very pleased with his selection. The menu is broken down into four sections: bites, first (which is essentially appetizers), second (entrées) and dessert (which also contains a cheese course). We each began the meal with a selection from the bites section. My husband ordered the Brussels Sprouts with leeks. The bite I had of this item was an apt introduction to Gardner's food. There were complex, deep flavors from the sprouts and from a sauce that had an Asian flair. Initially I was not interested in ordering brussels sprouts since I had been eating so much of that vegetable during the fall and winter, but this dish completely changed my mind. The bites item I ordered was a special that evening--White Asparagus puree with mushrooms served chilled in a small cup, like a custard. It was delicate, smooth and creamy with an extra bit of punch from the shaved mushrooms on top. Next we split the Beet Terrine with pistachio, smoked curds and dill from the "first" section. The slightly sweet layered beets, the smokiness of the curds paired with the bright, pungent dill and the crunchy nuts all played a role in the success of this dish. For entree I had the Gnudi with smoked morels and pearl onions. Gnudi, which is like a ricotta cheese dumpling (fried in this case), is a dish that was new to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. This blended perfectly with the smoky morels and the light sauce it was served with. A scattering of arugula helped keep the dish from being too rich. My husband had the Striped Bass with kale, fennel, in a rouille. The bass was beautifully prepared and rested on a bed of lightly seasoned kale and fennel, accompanied by a broth sauce that was delicate, yet pronounced. The skin of the bass was crisped and laid on top of the fish like a hat. A delicious accessory that illustrates once again the detail that goes into each dish.
Service is refined while still maintaining warmth and friendliness. A perfect example: complimentary glasses of Cava were brought to us to go with our dessert course, which made our celebration all the more special. For dessert we split Apple, hay with hazelnut. If memory serves, this dish was described as containing a layer of hazelnut sauce on the bottom, bite sized pieces of cake that had been charred in smoky hay, dehydrated apple, fresh apple and ice cream that had been steeped in hay tea. Complex, unusual and difficult to describe, but still the perfect ending to our meal. There are two new ways to experience Gardner. Today marks the start of their prix fixe menu, which offers four courses for $28, available on Monday evenings. Next Thursday, April 9, Gardner is collaborating with neighbor Cuvée Coffee and Antonelli's Cheese Shop for a drink pairing event. Both great opportunities to become introduced (or to re-experience) Gardner's craft. I am looking forward to a return trip to try their weekday happy hour, 5:30-7:00 p.m., and spend some time on their outdoor patio bar area before the heat of summer begins.
Please Note: Gardner has closed since the publication of this post.