I’m thrilled to report that GARDENIAS is softly opening this week for some trial dinner service, starting Wednesday August 5th. Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino of Woodward’s Garden (it was theirs for 22 years!) have transformed the former Roostertail into quite the beguiling space, one that will be perfect for a few bites and a glass of wine in the early evening, or a full dinner date, and eventually lunch on their back garden patio.
The ladies are positively giddy over all the additional space—it’s like moving from a Tokyo-sized studio into a full flat—but don’t fret, all the charm and coziness of Woodward’s is still there (even a few décor items made their way over, like the chandelier). They have also been having fun installing new items, like little French door signs they picked up long ago. It’s like decorating a new house.
There is ample bar seating at a counter facing the open kitchen (partially obscured by frosted glass, but you can still see who’s in the kitchen—say hello to sous chefs Nick Fields and Ana Cabrera), and there’s a counter in a sunny nook by the front windows. Wood tables have comfortable space around them, outfitted with vintage silverware, fresh flowers, and classic bistro napkins. The walls are a calming Prussian blue—all the better to offset the vintage framed images of ladies and eclectic but deliberately chosen artwork and soft lights in the glass globes.
The tranquil back garden patio is enclosed with wood slats, umbrellas, and blooming vines, with three tables that can seat six comfortably. It will be quite the coveted place to sit, especially on our warm Indian summer nights (although heat lamps are going to be installed in time, because San Francisco).
The menu (which you get to see first, dear tablehopper reader!) is designed for whatever your appetite demands or the occasion calls for, starting with small bites like gougères with blue cheese and pink peppercorn, and chicken liver crostini with pickled cherries to go with a couple of aperitifs on the menu. Just look at that antipasto plate, with Olympia Provisions capicola, Parmigiano, cauliflower, Castelvetranos, olive oil, and chile.
“Beginnings” are more appetizer-sized, tempting plates like socca cake with shallots, corn, and roasted kadota figs and a summer minestrone. Mains include quality meats coming off their rotisserie (lamb, chicken) with seasonal sides (the lamb is paired with smoked eggplant, zhug, spiced carrots, fingerlings, za’atar), plus seafood (like steelhead with corn and favas with quinoa and salsa verde) and a vegetarian selection. And somehow nothing is more than $26, even though they use such beautifully sourced ingredients.
Save room for dessert, because saffron ice cream with spiced pluots and olive oil cake with kadota figs, anise seeds, and labneh await (plus coffee and espresso from Scarlet City).
They enjoyed sourcing quality wines for their taps, and succeeded admirably. On the list, you’ll find a Macon chardonnay, plus local selections from Skylark and Broc, and a list of affordable wines in bottle, again with many food-friendly California selections, peppered with some international picks too.
Hours to start are dinner Wed-Mon, starting at 6pm. Happy hour is coming quite soon. Weekend brunch and lunch are in discussion. Welcome to your new and lovely space, Woodward’s ladies! 1963 Sutter St. at Fillmore, 415-621-7122.
The interior at Gardenias. Photo: © tablehopper.com.