Fresh on the Scene: The Garden Table
When I found out Broad Ripple’s crunchy-chic newcomer, The Garden Table, was open by 8 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, I did what any kale-chomping, yoga-panted person would do: I tried to rearrange my morning schedule so I could swing by for a bottle of cold-pressed juice before work. How could I resist, when descriptions of the ? The Emerald Elixir is packed with greens and a good dose of lemon that “detoxifies the liver and brightens skin.” The Hoosier Heater “revs your metabolism, shifting calorie burn into high gear.” And the Tropic Tonic “supports gut health with its heavy dose of pineapple’s bromelain enzyme.” To a person who makes her living eating rich foods, this sounded like a nice way to recalibrate.
I didn’t follow through, of course. (Who can function that prudently before 8 a.m.?) But I enjoyed the idea of rebranding myself in The Garden Table’s clean-living image—the double chin–less version of me that might pop in after my imaginary spin class to eat a bowl of chilled acai puree with housemade granola while perched on one of the seafoam-green bar stools in the front window. And though it is not clear whether co-owners Greg Harden, Jessie Kelley, and Sarah Simon intended to cast such an enchanting spell over their clientele when they opened this “seasonally influenced and locally sourced” counter-service spot in October, they certainly have some good juju working in their favor. The place is full of people like me, adoring the knickknacks and potted succulents arranged on the ledge behind the booths, eyeing the distressed-brick walls with the perfect shabby-chic wash of white paint, perhaps even coveting the industrial vintage trashcan in the washroom.
I enjoyed the idea of rebranding myself in The Garden Table’s clean-living image—the double chin-less version of me.
It didn’t hurt that the trio (in their first restaurant venture) brought in executive chef Ian Rossman, most recently of Tulip Noir but trained at high-end restaurants in Chicago, including a stint at Frog N Snail under Top Chef’s Dale Levitski. Here, Rossman crafts a menu of simple but slightly edgy “Morning” and “Afternoon” plates, like a drift of sweet-potato hash enriched with housemade chorizo, shredded Brussels sprouts, and sauteed onions, topped with the most delicate—borderline creamy—poached egg. And his selection of gourmet toasts were a surprise hit: crisped slabs of bread from Amelia’s Bakery that take on layers of flavors, like the Sweet Toast’s slathering of local almond butter topped with banana slices, a drizzle of maple syrup, and the chef’s homemade apple butter. There is a Lox Toast; a Tuscan Toast crowned with pesto and lamb bacon; and a stunning Garden Toast, which brings together tomato slices and mashed avocado with a squeeze of lemon and some chili powder. That’s all it is. And that’s all it needs to be.
“If the ingredients are good, all you have to do is cook it at the right temperature and for the right time, and then put some salt and pepper on it,” says Rossman, whose local suppliers range from Zionsville’s Tulip Tree Creamery to Greenfield’s pork-centric Tyner Pond Farm. He gets honey from two area hives, stocks up on produce from small purveyors like Annabelle’s Garden, and even uses coconut oil produced in Indianapolis.
But if you are going to make food this simple, it has to be perfect. As perfect as the poached eggs Rossman slides on top of the Quinoa Breakfast Bowl—soft orbs with firm whites and yolks that ooze out like lava. He honed his egg-handling skills while “working at brunch places for five years now—that didn’t happen overnight,” he assured me.
The food loses its luster later in the day, though, when the breakfast bites give way to sandwiches, like an extra-dilly chicken salad that subs Greek yogurt for mayo. It sounds good in theory—like a pressed juice that cures your gut with pineapple. But the less-charming reality is that one might daintily polish it off in this pretty dining room decorated in the pale Easter-egg palette of a vintage Martha Stewart magazine cover … and then whisper, low enough that the ladies behind the tidy rows of cold-pressed juices at the counter can’t hear, “Now where are we going for lunch?”
The Garden Table, 908 E. Westfield Blvd., 317-737-2531, thegardentable.com