The Garden on Grand certainly lives up to its name.
Located in the former home of the Islamic Information Center at 2245 S. Grand Blvd., the neighborhood's newest restaurant is filled with lush, vibrant green plants and reclaimed wood throughout. The bar, located on the left side of the space, and half of the tables in the restaurant were made from a single tree trunk. The greenhouse theme carries over to each table, where small glass planters filled with succulents and air plants make for live centerpieces.
The attention to detail in the space shouldn't come as too much of a surprise – owner Cevin Lee says he's had two and a half years to plan the restaurant, which is located next door to his family's Hong Kong Express. As a real estate agent, he says he's excited to invest in his own properties; he designed the restaurant's interior himself.
The fresh, plant-filled interior provides the perfect backdrop for The Garden on Grand's menu, which focuses on vibrant, healthy dishes made with high-quality organic and non-GMO ingredients. Lee says the idea is to use as few ingredients as possible – as an example, he cites the restaurant's coconut fried rice, which features fluffy white rice stir-fried in organic coconut oil with green onion, minced garlic, shaved coconut, scambled eggs, shrimp and microgreens.
But healthy eating isn't just a buzzword here: Lee says the health-minded focus of the menu is the result of the 17 years he spent managing debilitating spine arthritis. He was finally able to minimize his pain by changing his diet.
"I want it to be a restaurant where people can eat well without feeling guilty," he says. "If you use pure ingredients, that will carry the dish through."
Lee also cites a "great global hotpot of influences" in the restaurant's menu, including Asian and European flavors mixed with American classics. For the executive chef role, he tapped Kore Wilbert, formerly of Mad Tomato, the MX and SSM Hospital (and the winner of this past weekend's Stella Artois Chef Battle Royale at Taste of St. Louis). In particular, Wilbert says his menu features dishes with an Italian influence (he spent time cooking in Southern Italy) as well as Southern comfort food favorites inspired by his mom's love of cooking.
Starters range from pan-seared duck dumplings with ginger soy sauce; crispy shrimp rolls with sweet chili sauce; and crispy deep-fried ginger coconut wings to a baby kale salad and avocado relish served with crostini and spicy saffron chile oil. Wilbert counts three entrees among his favorites: a grilled lamb rack with roasted broccolini over rosemary-celery root purée and crispy fingerling potatoes; a seared filet steak with house demi-glace, creamy Cheddar whipped potatoes and sprout salad; and pistachio-encrusted salmon with whipped feta, lemon-herb truffle risotto, asparagus purée and microgreens. Also are on offer are tempura-battered chicken fingers and fries, a burger and a morel mushroom dish with pistachio gremolata.
The restaurant's brunch menu features a parfait, build-your-own omelets and a la carte items including biscuits, stir-fried baby kale, bacon, pancakes, waffles and eggs. Larger plates include steak and eggs with housemade hollandaise, The Ricky Bobby with seasonal fruit purée over Mascarpone-stuffed crepes and The Notorious B.I.G. biscuits and gravy.
A full bar features house cocktails, bottled beer and wine. A handful of frozen cocktails are made with sorbettos sourced from Gibron Burchett of HOSCO Foods (who also supplies the restaurant's microgreens).
The Garden on Grand will host a grand opening on Fri., Sept. 23.
The Garden on Grand, 2245 S. Grand Blvd., South Grand Dining District, St. Louis, Missouri, thegardenongrand.com