Shrimp Cocktail face—the cringe made every night at St. Elmo—has some company now. It’s called “Fire Cider Shot face,” and it comes courtesy of a stringent purifier served by the swig at The Garden Table. The $2 ramekin of cayenne-spiked vinegar is supposed to “get your organs going,” according to one perky staffer. What she means is the concoction will send your stomach into shock and your face into spasms, but that’s a small price to pay for knowing what it feels like to be Gwyneth Paltrow for a minute. It’s easy to imagine that most diners at this pale beauty of a cafe follow the gospel according to Goop (and are calling their kitchen remodelers immediately to steal The Garden Table’s best feature, a diagonal pattern of marble tile facing the counter). The place is packed with women daintily forking into a sublime hash constructed like a chop salad with chorizo, sweet potato, onion, shaved Brussels sprouts, and a velvety poached egg, and breathing a sigh of relief that they can order Lox Toast with gluten-free bread. But this place has enough rustic-modern style (and Smoking Goose meats) to woo committed carnivores, and plenty of finesse in the kitchen to make them crave clean living. Polenta wedges seared crisp and dressed with cinnamon and local honey approximate the texture and heartiness of French toast and can come with a side of Indiana-sourced sausage. Among the fresh salads and open-faced veggie sandwiches, the BMT (basil, mozzarella, and tomato jam, drizzled with balsamic) deserves its spot at the top of the chalkboard menu. If you’re enchanted by the fanciful descriptions of cold-pressed juices lettered onto the wall, order a flight of four served in mini milk jugs. And don’t forget your Fire Cider Shot.
Concept: West Coast brunch
Owners: Greg Harden, Jessie Kelley, and Sarah Simon
Chef: Ian Rossman
Pedigree: Rossman comes from Tulip Noir and trained under Top Chef breakfast king Dale Levitski in Chicago.
Try It If You Like: Eggshell Bistro
Check It Out: 908 E. Westfield Blvd., 317-737-2531, thegardentable.com