Roya’s Garlic GardenThe

Writing a blog is hardly a one-way experience–readers write back to me, give me hints, send me to places they like.  Danny Friedman sent me a note this week to tell me about Roya’s Garlic Garden in Lafayette–he and Linda ate there and enjoyed it, so he thought I should give it a try.  I’m glad to say we did.

Tuesday was Dinner with Margaret night, our monthly dinner with Margaret Kozak and Barbara Hanson, so off we went to downtown Lafayette, across from Postino.

Roya’s is a small, simple place that looks larger because of the mirrored walls.  They have a full bar (so Margaret can have her martini).  The entire staff seems to consist of Roya in the kitchen and one waitress who hustles all over the place–they weren’t busy, thank heavens.

Roya is an Iranian lady trained in Sweden by a French chef; the menu displays a considerably versatility of cuisines, with European specialties on the left and middle-eastern on the right.  An extra menu lists pastas and pizzas–if you can’t find something you like on this menu it’s your fault, not hers.

The portions are enormous–a couple could easily share one.  Margaret had the pork:

The presentation on these large charred planks is quite unusual.

Barbara had the chicken:

This is almost a big as Barbara is.

I couldn’t pass up the veggie pasta:

Angel hair, veggies, mozzarella and a light tomato sauce. Just what I like.

I wasn’t much impressed with the pizza quattroformaggio Gail ordered, but we own a pizza restaurant and I’m awfully picky about it.

There was an item on the dessert menu I could not pass up

Deep Fried Breaded Camembert with Fried Parsley, Vanilla Ice Cream and Cloudberry Jam

You have to order this one 20 minutes in advance, so I put in the order when our entrees came, then cleared the table and set up my photo:

You don’t often need a sharp knife for dessert; for this one it’s essential. The four forks are because there was no way I was going to get this all to myself.

This dessert is ready for its closeup, Mr. DeMille.

Cut into that hot, crusty ball and the camembert oozes all over, to be scooped up with a bit of the ice cream and savored.  It’s a fantastic creation, somewhat marred by very icy, overcrystallized ice cream that had been in and out of the freezer too many times.

The fried parsley was very reminiscent of the fried spinach at Origen, but has even more flavor.  I have no idea what a cloudberry is, but it sure makes good jam.  The combination of all this is an interesting, different dessert you need to try.  Don’t worry about the sharing–it’s big enough for four.

One of the benefits of a small place like this is the interaction available with the owner/chef.  Roya is right there, ready to talk to you about the menu, make suggestions or just chat in 3 or 4 languages.  The server was friendly and capable; our meal moved smoothly and effortlessly.

The bill was reasonable, the food was good, the ambiance was pleasant.  What’s not to like?  Thanks, Danny.


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