A whole new era of dining is being ushered in at the beloved Huntington Gardens & Library. Long a destination for walks exploring their extensive, sumptuous gardens by young and old alike but few actually thought of it as a dining option other than perhaps their famous tea room. Throw those old notions out the window because there’s a new, self – proclaimed foodie in town, Huntington’s president Laura Trombley who spearheaded this new partnership with Bon Apetit Management to create new and innovative dining experiences for all of us to now enjoy at the gardens. She believes these news restaurants will bring new people, young people and remind everyone of these unique gardens, artwork and library. Now one can bring friends and guests for a day at the gardens and stay for lunch or dinner with some of the restaurants even remaining open after the gardens close so indeed, one can make a whole event out of it. Bon Apetit has brought on executive chef Marc Powers to oversee the new culinary operations and he has partnered with celebrated chefs, Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken and Kajsa Alger to completely re-imagine the dining experiences at The Huntington.
1919, named for the year The Huntington was founded, is the brightly lit, open space café just inside the entrance and overlooking the gardens which features Feniger and Milliken’s (of Border Grill fame) signature modern Mexican cuisine as well as salads, sandwiches, brick-oven flatbread, burgers and daily specials. It also features a sushi bar by Blue Window along with global small plates which can be paired with beer, wine , sake and craft cocktails.
Next is the new Patio Grill, located adjacent to the Shakespeare Garden and American Art Galleries where Feniger and Milliken plan to change the menu every four months to feature casual, global meets local flavors. Dishes that include griddled Cubano sandwiches, grilled corn with smoky aioli, quinoa and kale salad, seasonal frescas and more.
While visiting the famed Chinese Gardens, visitors may now dine at Freshwater Dumpling and Noodle House where chefs Kajsa Alger and Susan Geniger offer a range of dishes drawn from the many regions of China as well as from surrounding influences such as Nepal and Mongolia. We recently attended a tasting where we sampled Sticky Rice Steamed in Lotus Leaf, Pork and Napa Cabbage Water Dumpings, Tek Tek Peanut Noodles and the much talked about General Tso’s Cauliflower. Everything was incredibly savory and warrants many return visits.
Also new is the Red Car Coffee Shop near the entrance where guests can relax in the patio with specialty coffees and teas along with Fosselman’s ice cream and freshly made sandwiches and pastries. And of course the Rose Garden Tea Room continues it’s traditional English tea service with a distinctive California twist.
Trombley says she relates to food critic Jonathan Gold’s observation: “an aria is in some way equal to a well-cooked potato.” She goes on to say that “as a world-renowned humanities and botanical institution, it makes prefect sense for us to have food that is connected to our collections and our beginning.” Visit www.Huntington.org for information and reservations.