Review: Back to the Garden Cafe
Tucked away in the shadow of a condo building a few blocks North of Bloor on Dundas, the unassuming Back to the Garden Cafe (2535 Dundas St. W) is easy to overlook. In fact, it took Dave and I about two years of living in the neighborhood before we developed enough interest in it to try some takeout. I was pleasantly surprised with our order so, when a vegetarian friend was in town for a visit this past week, Back to the Garden's large patio quickly came to mind.
The interior of the restaurant is dark and cozy, with lots of wood paneling and a welcoming fireplace. It looks like a great place to warm up in the winter but, on this particular sunny day, we were all about the patio. Stepping onto the large deck, we noticed that the patio furniture was sun-worn, and in pretty rough shape. The traffic noise coming from Dundas a few feet away was also not ideal, but no matter -- we were there for the food.
As luck would have it, buckets of 4 Coronas were on special for about $12 on this particular Wednesday night. We ordered some to sip while we perused the menu. The specials board inside Back to the Garden offers up a variety of stick-to-your-ribs comfort food, like lasagna and roasted turkey. To us, however, this seemed like a burger n' fries kind of evening.
The burger list is extensive, with a lot of really creative toppings. I had a hard time choosing between two or three different options, and finally settled on "Fun in Acapulco" -- a burger with nacho chips, nacho cheese, jalapenos, and chipotle sauce. I asked for a veggie patty instead of chicken, and our friendly waitress was happy to oblige. Dave ordered "New York New York," a beef burger topped with sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese, and our out-of-town friend Heath went with "Los Angeles" -- a veggie burger adorned with camembert and chipotle sauce. I was tempted by the flavoured fries, which are crispy fresh-cut fries coated in a sauce of your choice. Dave and I had ordered these for takeout and they were fantastic. On this occasion, however, I opted for no side (after all, I already was going to have nachos on my burger). Dave got a side salad and Heath chose regular, plain fries.
As we waited for our food, our waitress proactively brought out some water for us, without us needing to order it -- I love that. When our burgers arrived, I was thrilled to see that mine actually had nachos on top -- chips, with 7-11-esque liquid nacho cheese, and pickled jalapeno slices, as well as a slice of fresh tomato, pickles, and chopped lettuce. I drizzled the accompanying chipotle sauce on top and dug in -- my burger made a very satisfying crunch with each bite. The smoky heat of the creamy chipotle sauce went well with the nacho cheese and crispy tortilla chips. The jalapeno slices added another layer of spice, and everything was mellowed out by the delicious grain-based veggie patty. What a great burger. Dave equally enjoyed his order, and commented that the salad was tasty, if a little standard. Heath was also a big fan of his burger, but found that the camembert wasn't quite assertive enough to shine through the flavourful chipotle sauce. Dave and I stole a few of Heath's fries because they were so tasty.
Completely stuffed, we took care of our extremely reasonable bill (thanks, Heath!) and started home just as the sun was setting. I regret not trying the creative, delicious food at Back to the Garden earlier, but now that it's on my radar it will be one of my top choices when I'm craving a burger.
7 cow patties out of 10
Labels: restaurant review