Let’s get physical
I’m a bit of a lazy bastard. I don’t “work out.” My girl Danielle, on the other hand, is a total fitness addict. She goes to her gym, European Fitness Center, like 16 times a day. Sometimes she tries to drag me along. I usually mumble some excuse and go back to my novel or my lunch or my video game or whatever. But she recently managed to entice me with the promise of a lunch at Garden Restaurant, which is hidden inside the gym, and, maybe later, a sauna.
So I agreed to go. I’m young, blessed with a heroic metabolism, and I’m a bicycle commuter, so I stay in good shape without really having to try. Sure, I can go to the gym. Gym—that word immediately conjures up all of the loathing of anyone who was ever a skinny, bespectacled seventh-grader who couldn’t catch or throw and never got any sleep because he’d stay up all night reading … a seventh-grader who was barely tolerated during basketball and trampled during football … a seventh-grader who always, always struck out …
“Um, Danielle,” I said, nervously hunting down my one pair of shorts and wishing I still knew where my sneakers were, “am I going to get made fun of?”
She smiled. “You probably will.”
I managed to suffer my way through 20 minutes on the elliptical machine and survived the strange sensation of running on a treadmill, yet not going anywhere. If I was getting made fun of, at least it wasn’t to my face.
Finally, Danielle decided it was OK to escape to the restaurant. It was a welcome relief. It abounds in greenery: fake vines running the walls, fake and real plants. The entire restaurant is run by one (super) man, who kindly passes no judgment when his clientele are sweaty and badly-dressed. He acts as host, waiter and cook and serves well in all three endeavors. We were there at an off-time when most of the other customers were just getting sports drinks, but I couldn’t help but wonder, what happens when the restaurant is filled up? Does he just move even faster and more efficiently, or does he call upon reinforcements?
For appetizers, we got the Garlic Cheese Pita Bread ($2.75) and the Chicken Nachos (small, $5.25), both of which were good, though not amazing. The most remarkable thing about the nachos was how big the plate was—"This is a small?” Really, a huge plate of decent and healthy-tasty nachos is always a good thing.
Garden Restaurant serves a variety of foods, but seems to specialize in vitamin-packed wraps. Danielle ordered the Albacore Tuna Wrap ($9), which was loaded with veggies as well as tuna and was fresh and substantial, though a little plain-Jane. But Danielle, who usually shies away from condiments, spiced it up with mustard and was content.
I had the Quesadilla with Sautéed Tri-tip and Portabella Mushrooms ($9)—flavorful and very filling. Overall, the food at Garden Restaurant is good, healthful, simple and fresh, just not astounding. It’s certainly worth checking out, and you don’t have to join the gym to eat there. The atmosphere, with all its greenery and classical music (I recognized Mozart) and the comforting sounds of a bubbling fountain, is pleasant enough to make you forget you’re in a gym.