Meeting with a group of friends for dinner—and wanting something reasonably healthy—the recently opened Great Full Gardens South seemed like a good option.
The decor is pleasant. The service was attentive, and the menu includes many vegan and vegetarian options for those avoiding meaty bits. There definitely seemed to be something for everyone, regardless of diet.
We shared a pair of portabella mushroom caps ($8.29) stuffed with a seasoned vegetarian boca mix, topped with melted mozzarella, vegetable shoots and sprouts. I paired my portion with a cup of tomato soup ($4.10). The ’shrooms were fantastic, and the soup was zesty and delicious, with black pepper, fresh herbs and big chunks of heirloom tomato. I could have ordered just those two items and been satisfied, and I kind of wish I had.
Wanting to try a dinner special, I chose linguine con vangole ($20.99),said to be a family recipe of minced clam, white wine, lemon, garlic and red pepper. The pasta was fine, but the sauce was overpowered by a surprisingly fishy pungence I wasn’t crazy about. I tried to enjoy it and am normally big on shellfish, but I can’t recall having had a clam-based dish that was less appealing.
My wife’s double edge paleo salad ($14.99) combined seasoned, grass-fed tri-tip with a mix of Brussels sprouts, kale, jalapeño, carrot, onion, mushroom, red pepper and tomato, sauteed together in coconut oil. The beef was tender, and the discs of sliced Brussels sprouts provided a nice bit of crunch, but seasoning was lacking in both the meat and dressing. A touch of salt and perhaps balsamic vinegar could have helped.
A friend’s pollo taco salad ($13.89) was much better, with grilled organic chicken breast, black beans, cheese, salsa, green onion, tortilla strips, sour cream and a mildly spicy lime cilantro dressing atop a bed of spring mix greens. I probably would have punched it up with a little more heat, but it was fine as-is. Another friend’s teriyaki bowl ($13.49) filled with chicken, mushroom, carrot, cabbage, broccoli, pineapple, cilantro, scallion, brown rice and organic teriyaki sauce was even better.
Further down the table was a half order of tri-tip melt with a side salad ($8.15) and a pupusa ala Great Full ($10.99). This time the meat was ably supported by melted horseradish cheddar, garlic aioli, lettuce, onion and tomato on toasted sourdough. The salad was basic, but the sandwich was quite good. Stuffed with green chili and queso fresco, the corn pupusa was topped with grilled chicken, black beans, melted cheese and half an avocado, with sour cream and salsa on the side. A side salad with the cilantro lime dressing completed what was a pretty impressive mix of flavors.
My buddy’s cheeseburger looked nice on the plate with its brioche bun and side of blue corn chips and fresh salsa, but it was something of a letdown. Our server indicated that they would not cook to a doneness less than medium, and I don’t think they understand the difference between medium and medium well. What started as a third pound of beautiful, grass-fed beef was turned into a dry, disappointing experience. It occurs to me that a restaurant with so many veggie options might not be the best place to expect a juicy burger.