Gardner, the Contigo team’s ode to vegetables and Eater Award So Hot Right Now winner, opened earlier this month. The dishes shine the spotlight on seasonal produce in an earthy setting that is inviting. Read on for the early word.
The food — Most Yelpers raved about meals. Despite being a carnivore, Yelper Jonathan R. was blown away by his meal: "I am completely dumbfounded by just how much I enjoyed my meal at Gardner last night. The flavors are unlike any I've had anywhere." Vegetarian Yelper Matti V. thoroughly enjoyed everything, and described the desserts as performance art: "Hay ice cream in the apple/hay was the perfect accent to the honeycrisp apples, transporting me back to my 8 yr old self, eating apples straight off the tree at the orchard. And the carrot was what carrot cake has forever strived for, only in hypercolor." However, Yelper Carole P. wasn’t as impressed: "Food wasn't hot, food wasn't filling."
The price — The prices were a bit too high for some people. Chowhounder lixlix complained about the price points and portions: "I can taste that the products used was good but the pricing is just a bit too high. $10 for a plate of around 8 okra is a bit much. I doubt it would cut in to cost too much to include 4 more okra," later adding, "I understand vegetables when sustainably grown should cost more but not to this extent." Yelper Carole P. also agrees: "1 piece of broccoli for $3 ....a parsnip as a main dish...come on...you clearly can cook beautifully...so don't try so hard to be so damn Austin hip, cool and offer some great vegetables at a proper price with generosity."
The atmosphere — Yelper Jonathan R. also wrote about how every aspect of the restaurant created an overall special ambiance: "It's a place to enjoy food—as art. It's not only the presentation, and the attentive servers that seem to know every bit of how the food is prepared, it's the decor, the smell when you walk in, the custom steel work, etc. It's an experience, and a special place that I can't wait to return to (when the wallet is ripe)." Yelper Tom B. wasn’t as taken away: "For me, it's almost like they opened this place on a dare. I could see the conversation going something like ‘I bet I can get people to pay a hundred dollars for 2 dollars worth of produce!’"
The decor — The uncomplicated decor of Gardner wasn’t taken for granted. Yelper Kimberly L. admired its unique design: "The restaurant's interior is clean and elegant without pretension and without distracting from the eating experience." Yelper Tress P. seconded: "The interior is simple and beautiful, all clean lines and surfaces, with no art on the walls to muddy up the nearly Japanese aesthetic."
The service — Yelper Rosemary W. appreciated that the servers took the time to talk through the menu: "Although the menu just states the ingredients and not the preparation our server was happy to explain the dishes to us and also to recommend his favorites to us as well." Yelper Matti V. also said, "The service was warm, gracious, and attentive; just about everybody in the restaurant knew it was our anniversary. They actually read the reservation notes from the website."