Restaurant Review: The Gardens Restaurant

Apricot Chicken Salad on Toasted Ciabatta

For nearly 25 years, The Gardens Restaurant has served savory soups, salads and sandwiches and offered a relaxing respite for nature lovers.

| photography by Alex Lepe |

Meandering the winding paths of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden can rouse quite an appetite. Within the fenced-off paradise is The Gardens Restaurant, tucked among 109 acres of towering shade trees and colorful blooms.

Pathways leading up to the restaurant are lined with labeled perennials. A lovely, well-sized patio sits in front of the eatery’s main entrance. Our winter visit had us dreaming of spring when we’d be able to enjoy a glass of wine at a shady outside table. Inside, The Gardens abounded with flowering plants. Two giant poinsettia plants flank the front doors, and each table popped with red poinsettia centerpieces. Skylights and large windows flood the dining room space with natural light and allow for scenic views of the grounds. The ambiance could be greatly improved with the dimming of the harsh overhead lighting.

We began with the Garden Quiche ($6.25), a delicate mix of farm-fresh eggs, vegetables and cheese in an airy, flaky crust. Served on a bed of naked greens, the quiche was an adequate helping of two slices of dense eggs mixed with spinach and onions, topped with Parmesan cheese.

Apricot Chicken Salad on Toasted Ciabatta ($9) had a simple presentation with a watery tomato atop a handful of spinach and arugula. I was awestruck after taking a bite of the delicious chicken salad. Creamy and tangy without being overpowered by mayonnaise, the salad had hints of apricot and fresh tarragon. Resting between toasted ciabatta, the bread was the perfect choice because it was hardy enough to prevent sogginess but not too thick.

When the Chocolate Mousse Cake ($5.95) was presented, it didn’t appear to have been made in-house. It was good just the same. Moist chocolate sponge cake was sandwiched with a light chocolate mousse and covered in chocolate shavings. A small dollop of whipped cream nuzzled up to the cake with a raspberry on top.

Although the wine selection was somewhat limited, our pinot grigio paired nicely with our lunch choices. Our server may have been the friendliest I’ve ever encountered. Genuinely happy in her work, she routinely filled our glasses and cleared our plates, as well as ensured we enjoyed every stage of our meal. Lingering a little longer to enjoy our conversation, we enjoyed a few cups of coffee brewed freshly just for our table.

Patrons can feel happy as they eat, knowing that a portion of all sales benefits the beautification of the Gardens.


Location: 3220 Rock Springs Road, inside the Fort Worth Botanic Garden
For Info: 817.731.2547 | gardensrestaurantandcatering.com
Hours: Tue.-Sun., 11a.m.-3p.m.
Price Range: $-$$
What We Liked: Excellent light dishes are served with a smile in a
natural environment at a reasonable cost.
What We Didn’t: Harsh lighting affected the atmosphere.
Our Recommendations: Apricot Chicken Salad sandwich