GLENCOE, IL. (May 8, 2014) – The newly renovated and named Garden View Café recently opened at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It offers an enhanced menu of the best of local, fresh seasonal foods, restaurant-style seating, a barista and pastry station and flatbreads cooked in a brick pizza oven.
“Our new Garden View Café provides a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere set in glorious seasonal garden vistas,” said Sophia Shaw, Garden president and chief executive officer. “The menu will change with the seasonal offerings of 16 local farms—including the Garden’s own urban agriculture programs—helping us to achieve our mission: We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life.”
In addition to a new barista station and pizza oven, there are easy grab-and-go items, an expanded breakfast menu, seasonal soups, freshly made salads and a trans-fat free children’s menu that caters to diners of all ages and tastes.
A sampling of what the café serves includes challah french toast with Meyer lemon curd and fresh strawberries; roasted chicken and berry cobb salad prepared with Windy City Harvest Greens; Harrison’s Poultry Farm smoked turkey breast;Wisconsin swiss and tomato jam sandwich and a roasted vegetable calzone. “We have created dozens of new menu items that will pique the taste buds of children and adults alike,” said Doug D’Avico, executive chef.
“For the first time in our history, visitors will be able to order espresso-style drinks at the Garden,” said Harriet Resnick, vice president of visitor experience and business development. “Our flatbread pizzas are hugely popular. Sprouts Meals, the new children’s menu, gives a new twist on traditional kids’ favorites. The Top Secret Mac and Cheese recipe sneaks vitamin-packed butternut squash into a low-fat cheese sauce,” she said.
Vegan diners may enjoy options such as the Garden Spring Chopped Superfood salad of baby kale, red quinoa, seasonal berries, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, broccoli, dried cranberries, almonds, mango, carrots and oil-free honey orange dressing. Any sandwich can be ordered with gluten-free bread and diners may enjoy a side of the café’s popular mainstay, Garden Three-bean Chili.
Physical improvements smooth the flow and overall experience for the roughly 200,000 customers visiting the Garden View Café each year. A one-stop ordering and payment system will enable customers to order their meals and pay at the same location. A pager system will alert staff where customers are seated and staff will deliver orders to the table.
The $3 million project is the third phase of work on the 20-year-old café. Following up on the Garden’s sustainability efforts in the café, in 2008, the Garden stopped selling bottled water, and in 2011, the Garden expanded its dishwashing and storage areas in order to change from using disposable plates, bowls and flatware to using reusable chinaware. Also in 2011, the Garden began incorporating composting of food scraps and appropriate materials into its café operations. The café renovation is part of a $125 million capital and endowment fundraising campaign outlined in the Garden’s ten-year strategic plan called “Keep Growing.”
The addition of booths and all-new tables and chairs creates more of a restaurant feel without sacrificing seating or accessibility. The renovation increased the capacity of Sodexo, the Garden’s caterer, to prepare and serve fresh food.
With its thoughtful menu and aesthetically pleasing dining space, the Garden is part of a national trend among museums—including the Field Museum and Art Institute of Chicago—to provide a destination restaurant with more local and seasonal food offerings. “As a museum, the Garden bears an important social responsibility to its members, guests and the wider community,” said Shaw. “Our role as educator is a vital one, and our newly renovated café highlights the direct connections between plants, a healthy environment, and human health and happiness. Visitors will be reminded that fresh foods taste delicious, lift your outlook and make you feel great—just as a walk through any of our 26 gardens and four natural areas makes our visitors feel.”
Many of the fruits and vegetables supplying the café will come from the Garden’s own urban agriculture programs, primarily Windy City Harvest Youth Farm, and the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden.
“Guests at the Garden View Café will be able to walk over to the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden and see where portions of their breakfast, lunch or dinner come from,” Resnick said. “It is our hope that they will be inspired to begin growing some of their own produce at home.”
For more information about the Garden View Café, read the Garden blog at:
For a smugmug gallery of photo’s go to: