Old school good value and solid cooking…if you’re a long time San Franciscan over 70 who enjoys Italian food, chances are good that the Garden Club is one of your favorite places. It definitely looks like it’s been around for decades, cluttered with red & white checked tablecloths and a duck theme – what you can see of it that is. It’s dark inside in the bar area. If you’re a regular (and there are many of them), you’re likely to run into many people that you know. Show up late and you may have to wait for an hour or longer – but you can hit the bar and enjoy some generous pours. The servers look like they’ve been there for a long time.
The menu changes based on the day of the week. You’ll get a five course meal that includes bread, soup, salad, appetizer (e.g., ravioli, stuffed chicken breast), entrée with sides, and your choice of dessert for $18.95 - $25.95. Check the chalkboard for today’s specials. The server will also tell you the specials of the day. For dessert you can choose from tapioca pudding, sherbet, or an ice cream sundae.
* Basket of sourdough bread with pats of butter: The loaves of bread were served cold and sliced. Bread was tasty enough but the crust was very chewy. It could be challenging for someone without all their teeth.
* Manhattan clam chowder: Comes in a huge family size bowl. It’s a hearty soup with big chunks of potatoes, carrots, teeeny clams (hardly any), celery, and zucchini in a tomatoey broth. Cherylynn N. is right – it tastes more like minestrone (minus the pasta) than Manhattan clam chowder but it’s still good. You can add grated Parmesan to it (each table has a big bowl full)
* Shrimp salad: Served family style, a big pile of tender baby shrimp in a sweet dressing (Russian?) over mixed greens. I also spotted some imitation crab meat, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans – but it was 95% shrimp and lettuce. Not bad.
* Veal cutlet with country gravy ($18.95) with a scoop of mashed potatoes, Italian green beans and peas. Wow, the mashed potatoes were very smooth. I like mine with more texture/clumpier. The green beans were on the soft side. The country gravy, a white gravy, was more like cream gravy – very thick. The thin veal cutlet had a light, crispy fried breading – definitely tasty, like schnitzel. The cutlet was huge.
* Sundae with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and whipped cream – reminded me of something you’d get a cafeteria somewhere, probably Dreyer’s ice cream, old school but charming.
Insider tips: Get there early and bring an extra container for your soup. They’re known for prime rib and they do run out. Reservations are accepted for parties of 5 or more people.
4 out of 5 stars
By Lolia S.