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Neighborhood Gem: Eating at Garden Kitchen in Rolando is a Journey into a Chef’s Hyper-Local Wonderland

From-scratch cooking and a lounge featuring boutique wines make Garden Kitchen a food and wine lovers’ destination.

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PHOTOGRAPHY by
Olivia Hayo
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November 13, 2019
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Garden Kitchen is not a typical restaurant.

Coral Strong, Owner and Executive Chef, writes her whimsical weekly menus based on the organic produce she sources from eight neighboring San Diego farms.The resulting dishes are unique, yet approachable, with options to satisfy all tastes from meat-centric mains like seared duck with smokey date mole and duck skin chicharon to vegan-friendly options like sweet potato chimichangas made with walnut “chorizo”.

Succulents adorn the walls and beautifully strung lights create a cozy atmosphere in the outdoor patio dining room, which feels more like a friends’ backyard than a typical restaurant. This is exactly what Chef Coral had in mind when designing it.

Adjacent to the heated patio, a small doorway leads to the intimate wine lounge where guests cozy up on plush velvet couches and at the custom-made, locally-sourced wooden bar.

The bar is the best place to sit and chat with Megan, Garden Kitchen’s house sommelier, about the current rotation of nearly 40 wines by the glass and bottle.The wine collection focuses on varietals from boutique, small production, award-winning wineries, with at least half of them local to the Temecula, San Diego, and Baja wine regions.

The lounge menu changes daily and often features favorites from the dinner menu, like the “Kitchen Sink” board of cheeses, salami, accoutrements, and house-brined pickles and olives. The ever-popular roasted bone marrow with french onion whipped goat cheese and the iconic fried fig leaf topped with sheep’s milk feta and a fig and beet stem jam, are also available when in season.

In addition to the dinner service and wine lounge, Garden Kitchen also offers a unique wine club. For $50 per month, members receive three wines hand picked by chef Coral and Megan, who select a New World wine, an Old World wine, and a local wine that are seasonally appropriate, like Beaujolais for Thanksgiving or a Champagne for December.

They also include pairing suggestions and tasting notes on the wines, which can be collected from the Wine Lounge during the monthly pickup party, where members can try the wines and enjoy complimentary appetizers. Additional bottles can be purchased at the pick-up party for 50% off.

Plan a visit to Garden Kitchen

4204 Rolando Boulevard, Rolando

gardenkitchensd.com

Restaurant Hours: Tuesday to Saturday Happy Hour, 3pm–5pm; Dinner Service, 5pm–9pm

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