Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Skip the steak; leave Garden Kitchen happy

"Our customers are big on vegetables."

Baba ganoush, part of the $6 Mediterranean Mix
Baba ganoush, part of the $6 Mediterranean Mix

Peppers as dinner? Never would’ve done this, except for one fact. It’s a Friday. Not a payday. Low on dough but high on peppers. I’ve just spent four bucks on “blistered red shishito peppers, in a porcini balsamic glaze.”

Shishito peppers: secret’s in the porcini balsamic glaze

Truth is, I came in to this place because it looked like a Garden of Eatin’, a perfect patio, a little world away from the Wilds of Rolando. Lots of troppo greenery, bamboo wind-breaks, desert plants hanging on trellises, parachute shades, little Japanese lantern-style lights strung all over.

“Wow. What are you doing?” I say to this gal. She’s kneading away at some dough through a screen covering the house’s front window.

Kitchen, I guess. Turns out she’s Coral, the chef-owner here. “Making tonight’s bread,” she says.

That is a good omen.

“Garden Kitchen,” says the sign. “Fresh. Sustainable. From Scratch.”

I’m liking it already. Problem? Dinner entrées start around $18 and can hit $40 for a decent steak dish. But what kept me coming in was the other notice on the trellis: “Happy Hour 3pm-5pm.”

That means fifteen minutes left. I head straight in. All seating’s in the garden of what was a little stucco Rolando house. Main patio’s out front, under plexiglass and parachutes, plus tables reaching back along the side. And what tables.

Planks. Pinewood. Knotty but nice, heh heh, topped with red napkins that shine luminous in the setting sun.

So while the main menu’s talking about things like a 10-ounce wagyu Burgundy steak ($38), Japanese eggplant tagine (stew, $18), and porterhouse pork chop ($25), I head straight for the li’l yellow happy hour card.

The choice is pretty easy. Five appetizers, $3 off each of them. The Mediterranean Mix has falafel, baba ganoush, pita chips, and cucumber tzatziki. Regular price $9, HH, $6. Blistered red shishito peppers with porcini balsamic glaze (regularly $7, so hey $4). Then steak bites, “grilled flat iron,” with chipotle dip ($9 = $6); “Freckled Romaine,” which is a collection of “grilled green beans, indigo rose tomato (a newly developed tomato with almost black skin), farm cucumber & carrot, d’avignon radish, shaved red onion, pecorino, housing dressing ($12 = $9); and Kitchen Sink: “3 gourmet cheeses, dry salami, roasted garlic hummus, sweet raisins, pickled beets, seasonal jam, pickled cherries, table grapes, bread & butter pickles, mixed nuts, grilled bread ($16 = $13).”

So not your usual HH’s mini sliders or blackened Brussels sprouts. Apart from the steak bites, it’s much more nuts’n twiggy.

But no time to screw around. Happy hour has a couple of minutes to go. Plus people are starting to clog the entrance. Must be the serious evening guests. So I make two hard decisions. Steak Bites and Mediterranean Mix. Twelve bucks altogether.

Because Freckled Romaine sounds uber-salady, Kitchen Sink’s a bit too high at $13, and blistered peppers? Half of a meal?

On the other hand, I think again. Just $4 for the peppers? Such a deal.

Also, grog: They have $4 beers, including a Green Flash IPA, and $5 wines, ooh, including two from Guadalupe Valley, Mexico. But now Melissa the server is here.

Melissa

“D’uh, Mediterranean Mix,” I say, just because it’s first on the list, “and tell me about the blistered red shishito peppers.”

“Well, they’re really delicious,” Melissa says.

Turns out “Shishito” means “Lion.” But that doesn’t mean it’s gonna bite your head off with heat. The name comes because the pepper’s tip looks like a lion.

“Maybe one in ten peppers is actually quite hot,” Melissa says. “But most just have a certain zip to them and are quite sweet.”

So I drop the steak bites, and order the peppers.

Looks like I’m going all-veggie tonight. Plus, I get the Green Flash Soul Style IPA ($4).

The Mediterranean mix has baba ganoush — Guess what it means? Pampered papa — a roasted eggplant mix, plus olives and baked pita bread. I don’t notice any of the advertised falafel, but that could just be because I’m so pig-greedy, and because those baked crisp pita bread chunks are so daggone delicious. Whole wheat, Melissa says. Salty, tender, and so great with the eggplant.

But, I have to say: surprise star of my happy hour is that bowl of shishito peppers. It’s the balsamic

glaze on the carbon blistering that makes them so very umami. Joyously soy-ish, burnt but slightly sweet. That’s also because they’re red, ripe. Not green like you often get with shishito.

And spicy-hot only a little. I race through them at such a pace I forget to look for the danged lion

face in their tips. Man, they’re addictive. Specially with the pita bread to crunch with them, And

for four bucks! A sweet meal deal. Even though I know I’m probably gonna be hungry in a couple

of hours, now it makes me feel full, fat, and a happy camper.

Coral comes by. “This used to be a Jamaican restaurant here,” she says when I ask. “I’ve had it 1½ years.”

Coral

Coral was brought up in Costa Rica, turns out, eating lots of rice and beans, plus the occasional iguana. “It was the best time of my life,”

Place

Garden Kitchen

4204 Roland Boulevard, San Diego

she says, “but this is the best thing I ever did. I’ve never worked so hard. Spencer, my sous-chef, and I spend ten hours cooking every day. We cost a little more because we make everything from scratch every day, and buy local, and organic as much as we can. Our customers are big on vegetables.”

I can see her customers are big on her. By now it’s like 6:30 and the place is packed. I get up to liberate my seat. Can’t believe I’ve just made a meal out of mainly peppers.

Next time, I’ll go for that Kitchen Sink appetizer and a glass of Baja wine.

And oh, the $4 shishito peppers again. Still gotta find that lion face.

Hours: 3-9pm Tuesday - Saturday

Happy Hour: 3-5pm, Tuesday - Saturday

Happy Hour Prices: Mediterranean Mix (with falafel, baba ganoush, pita chips, cucumber tzatziki), $6; blistered red shishito peppers (with porcini balsamic glaze), $4; steak bites, chipotle dip, $6; Freckled Romaine (grilled green beans, veggies, pecorino ($9); Kitchen Sink (3 cheeses, salami, hummus, raisins, pickled beets, jam, pickled cherries,

grapes, pickles, nuts, grilled bread ($13)

Bus: 7

Nearest bus stop: University Avenue at Rolando Boulevard

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Five black-owned restaurants to try in San Diego

As George Floyd protests continue, some diners seek to support African-American restaurateurs
Next Article

The Kabbs: lost and found

Stifled by the pandemic, new self-titled album is released
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Baba ganoush, part of the $6 Mediterranean Mix
Baba ganoush, part of the $6 Mediterranean Mix

Peppers as dinner? Never would’ve done this, except for one fact. It’s a Friday. Not a payday. Low on dough but high on peppers. I’ve just spent four bucks on “blistered red shishito peppers, in a porcini balsamic glaze.”

Shishito peppers: secret’s in the porcini balsamic glaze

Truth is, I came in to this place because it looked like a Garden of Eatin’, a perfect patio, a little world away from the Wilds of Rolando. Lots of troppo greenery, bamboo wind-breaks, desert plants hanging on trellises, parachute shades, little Japanese lantern-style lights strung all over.

“Wow. What are you doing?” I say to this gal. She’s kneading away at some dough through a screen covering the house’s front window.

Kitchen, I guess. Turns out she’s Coral, the chef-owner here. “Making tonight’s bread,” she says.

That is a good omen.

“Garden Kitchen,” says the sign. “Fresh. Sustainable. From Scratch.”

I’m liking it already. Problem? Dinner entrées start around $18 and can hit $40 for a decent steak dish. But what kept me coming in was the other notice on the trellis: “Happy Hour 3pm-5pm.”

That means fifteen minutes left. I head straight in. All seating’s in the garden of what was a little stucco Rolando house. Main patio’s out front, under plexiglass and parachutes, plus tables reaching back along the side. And what tables.

Planks. Pinewood. Knotty but nice, heh heh, topped with red napkins that shine luminous in the setting sun.

So while the main menu’s talking about things like a 10-ounce wagyu Burgundy steak ($38), Japanese eggplant tagine (stew, $18), and porterhouse pork chop ($25), I head straight for the li’l yellow happy hour card.

The choice is pretty easy. Five appetizers, $3 off each of them. The Mediterranean Mix has falafel, baba ganoush, pita chips, and cucumber tzatziki. Regular price $9, HH, $6. Blistered red shishito peppers with porcini balsamic glaze (regularly $7, so hey $4). Then steak bites, “grilled flat iron,” with chipotle dip ($9 = $6); “Freckled Romaine,” which is a collection of “grilled green beans, indigo rose tomato (a newly developed tomato with almost black skin), farm cucumber & carrot, d’avignon radish, shaved red onion, pecorino, housing dressing ($12 = $9); and Kitchen Sink: “3 gourmet cheeses, dry salami, roasted garlic hummus, sweet raisins, pickled beets, seasonal jam, pickled cherries, table grapes, bread & butter pickles, mixed nuts, grilled bread ($16 = $13).”

So not your usual HH’s mini sliders or blackened Brussels sprouts. Apart from the steak bites, it’s much more nuts’n twiggy.

But no time to screw around. Happy hour has a couple of minutes to go. Plus people are starting to clog the entrance. Must be the serious evening guests. So I make two hard decisions. Steak Bites and Mediterranean Mix. Twelve bucks altogether.

Because Freckled Romaine sounds uber-salady, Kitchen Sink’s a bit too high at $13, and blistered peppers? Half of a meal?

On the other hand, I think again. Just $4 for the peppers? Such a deal.

Also, grog: They have $4 beers, including a Green Flash IPA, and $5 wines, ooh, including two from Guadalupe Valley, Mexico. But now Melissa the server is here.

Melissa

“D’uh, Mediterranean Mix,” I say, just because it’s first on the list, “and tell me about the blistered red shishito peppers.”

“Well, they’re really delicious,” Melissa says.

Turns out “Shishito” means “Lion.” But that doesn’t mean it’s gonna bite your head off with heat. The name comes because the pepper’s tip looks like a lion.

“Maybe one in ten peppers is actually quite hot,” Melissa says. “But most just have a certain zip to them and are quite sweet.”

So I drop the steak bites, and order the peppers.

Looks like I’m going all-veggie tonight. Plus, I get the Green Flash Soul Style IPA ($4).

The Mediterranean mix has baba ganoush — Guess what it means? Pampered papa — a roasted eggplant mix, plus olives and baked pita bread. I don’t notice any of the advertised falafel, but that could just be because I’m so pig-greedy, and because those baked crisp pita bread chunks are so daggone delicious. Whole wheat, Melissa says. Salty, tender, and so great with the eggplant.

But, I have to say: surprise star of my happy hour is that bowl of shishito peppers. It’s the balsamic

glaze on the carbon blistering that makes them so very umami. Joyously soy-ish, burnt but slightly sweet. That’s also because they’re red, ripe. Not green like you often get with shishito.

And spicy-hot only a little. I race through them at such a pace I forget to look for the danged lion

face in their tips. Man, they’re addictive. Specially with the pita bread to crunch with them, And

for four bucks! A sweet meal deal. Even though I know I’m probably gonna be hungry in a couple

of hours, now it makes me feel full, fat, and a happy camper.

Coral comes by. “This used to be a Jamaican restaurant here,” she says when I ask. “I’ve had it 1½ years.”

Coral

Coral was brought up in Costa Rica, turns out, eating lots of rice and beans, plus the occasional iguana. “It was the best time of my life,”

Place

Garden Kitchen

4204 Roland Boulevard, San Diego

she says, “but this is the best thing I ever did. I’ve never worked so hard. Spencer, my sous-chef, and I spend ten hours cooking every day. We cost a little more because we make everything from scratch every day, and buy local, and organic as much as we can. Our customers are big on vegetables.”

I can see her customers are big on her. By now it’s like 6:30 and the place is packed. I get up to liberate my seat. Can’t believe I’ve just made a meal out of mainly peppers.

Next time, I’ll go for that Kitchen Sink appetizer and a glass of Baja wine.

And oh, the $4 shishito peppers again. Still gotta find that lion face.

Hours: 3-9pm Tuesday - Saturday

Happy Hour: 3-5pm, Tuesday - Saturday

Happy Hour Prices: Mediterranean Mix (with falafel, baba ganoush, pita chips, cucumber tzatziki), $6; blistered red shishito peppers (with porcini balsamic glaze), $4; steak bites, chipotle dip, $6; Freckled Romaine (grilled green beans, veggies, pecorino ($9); Kitchen Sink (3 cheeses, salami, hummus, raisins, pickled beets, jam, pickled cherries,

grapes, pickles, nuts, grilled bread ($13)

Bus: 7

Nearest bus stop: University Avenue at Rolando Boulevard

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Dark night for La Mesa

"I don't understand. Why?"
Next Article

Why settle for the penthouse? Buy the whole building.

Comes with an extra 17 rental units on the lower floors
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close