If you walk past the Garden Grill on India Street you might not give it a second glance. The seating area is filled with cheap plastic tables and chairs and the only scenery is that of a soda machine and a wall of mirrors. I've seen cafeteria's that look nicer.
This is about as far as I can go in giving the Garden Grill a bad review. Everything else about the eatery is fantastic. You can easily get a meal for around $6 or "splurge" and get more food than you can eat for a total of $16. They offer salads, pita sandwiches, plates (which can feed two), many appetizers and even desserts. Since my husband and I flock to cheap yet tasty restaurants, we have been here many times. Between the two of us we've tried the kibbeh, labneh, hummus, tabboulleh, gyro sandwich, chicken shawerma, and kabobs (lamb, chicken, and salmon). They have dozens of more plates to choose from.
When we first started eating here the soda machine was broken and their menu was smaller (and maybe a bit cheaper?). Over the last six months they have redone their menu (they have a very easy-to-read picture menu), fixed their soda machine, and added specials. Despite the poorly done eating area, the rest of this hole-in-the-wall restaurant has been updated nicely.
Lately we've been on an extremely tight budget (military screwed us over...long story!) and haven't been able to buy groceries or go out to eat. Our plan for today was to go to the Chinese New Year fair downtown but when we got there we quickly realized it was very lame. There were only three food vendors and most of the other vendors were selling trinkets and non-Chinese items. Since we spent all of ten minutes at the fair we decided to "splurge" and eat at our favorite Mediterranean eatery.
Since we're on such a tight budget our splurging consisted of splitting a meal and getting an appetizer. We decided on the labneh with pita bread (which I used to get weekly at Jons up in L.A.) and the Chicken Schwerma plate. Each plate comes with a greek salad, basmati rice, hummus, pita bread, the main meat and a sauce. I requested the green chile sauce instead of the tahini because it's so flavorful and has a nice kick. We also got a bottle of water and a large coke (refilled twice) and the total was only $16. Not bad for the huge amount of food. We were both stuffed from the one plate and appetizer.
Unfortunately Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday and my husband works night shift right now so we won't be able to have dinner together. He's also going on a two week deployment in a few weeks. That's why tonight we decided to make our night extra special or extra-ordinary. You got it. We went to Extraordinary Desserts on 5th Ave in the Hillcrest area.
I was very proud of myself for remembering to take a picture of our food at the Garden Grill and kept reminding myself to take a picture of our cake at Extraordinary Desserts. I forgot. Can you blame me? How can I think of taking pictures when a decadent piece of chocolate cake is placed in front of my face?
I did remember to take a picture after we finished the cake:
Fortunately I got a cookie to take home to show you. It appears to be a chocolate linzer cookie with a little gold leaf and rose petals.
My husband also got a cup of their heavenly Kona coffee. Normally I would have gotten a cup of their Chocolate tears tea (handmade) but it's $5 and that was a bit too rich for our wallet. A small container of the tea is $22. One day when I have $22 to throw away I will definitely get that tea. It is truly divine. The best tea I've ever had.
Extraordinary Desserts also has a great selection of chocolates (Vosges, etc.) and gifts. The atmosphere is relaxing and comfortable whether you are in side in a booth or outside under a heatlamp.
One thing to remember when going to Extraordinary Desserts is to go early. We went at 6:30 and waited for about ten minutes. By the time we were sitting down the line was out the door and down the street. I was very surprised since it was so early. Normally we go around 9 or 10pm and it's very crowded then. They're open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Oh, why can't there be an Extraordinary Desserts in North County?!
3715 India Street
San Diego, CA 92103
2929 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
For more pictures and another review, check out Kirk's trip to the Garden Grill.