A picturesque location and friendly service does not transform the food but it can the mood.
To be fair the Garden Cafe does not have gastronomic pretensions but rather to serve tourists and park visitors all day. I’ve been visiting it for years often with my Godson and my late mother. Nestling in the corner adjacent to another great amenity the Open Air theatre it does have a sylvan ambience as the tables are set out haphazardly amongst the trees. I once took a Parisienne artist friend of mine who liked to row by the Boathouse cafe on Regents Pak lake. She was mystified they could serve a microwaved lasagne. The restaurant in the Bois de Boulogne is one of the best in Paris.
I went with a stockbroker friend of mine Julian who can be picky. It did not get off to a good start as plainly understaffed in the hot weather it took too long to sit us and even longer to take our order. However the young waitress was enchanting. She had a clear voice, confident manner which made us wonder if she might be in amateur theatricals. Certainly Julian wished he had his hair and was 30 years younger. Immediately we forgave the delay , in fact Julian would have forgiven her most transgressions. The restaurant seemed the perfect place to enjoy the summer: no traffic , birdsong, al fresco eating.
We both chose pea soup and herb soufflé. Julian a connoisseur of pea soup pronounced it delicious, I would call it hearty with fresh peas in the stock and then the blender. It was accompanied by a hunk of granary bread. The herb soufflé served with a cloying sauce which was not described in the menu was more disappointingly bland. Our waitress was forever bobbing round us taking for some reason a shine to us.. Personally I don’t like over familiar waiters. Once I was in Miami in a glitzy restuatmt . The waiter appeared:
“My name is Herbie and I’m your Captain,”
“How are you Herb”, enquired one of our party
“I’m going thru a bad time ” said Herb .
It was some time before the order was taken as we heard of the nature of this.
Our waitress did not confide her innermost secrets but seemed a happy person interacting with the diners. She did not push any drink either when Julian took the familiar option of tapwater. Lady to lady I might have confided in her that her eyes had too much dark mascara but her sweetness of heart if not the herb soufflé would break many a gentleman ‘s heart.
As a friend of the park I get a 20 % discount so the bill to include espressos, mineral water and a glass of rosé came to £30. We left a tip of £10 as good service deserves to be rewarded.
I have eaten better and certainly more expensively where the service was arrogant but here on a demanding day for staff I would say the waitress enhanced our enjoyment by 25%.