Restaurant of the Week: Garden Square

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CLOSED

Garden Square, 1401 Foothill Blvd., La Verne (at Wheeler); and 710 S. Indian Hill Blvd. (at San Jose), Claremont.

Garden Square, a local operation, took over the former Bakers Square in La Verne in January, reopening less than a month after the location closed. Seizing an opportunity, the same owner nabbed the vacant Claremont Bakers Square and, although not as speedily, opened it as a second Garden Square earlier this month.

I ate at the La Verne location recently for lunch. The interior still resembles a Bakers Square with the green-upholstered booths, oak trimming and pie case in front. I had a pretty good tuna melt ($7.99), but my so-so side salad was brought to the table at the same time as the entree.

For dessert there are 20 pies on the menu. I had a slice of apple ($2.99). It was a sad thing, filled with that heavily glazed “apple filling” that comes from a can, not fresh apples, and consequently flat and mushy.

The owner was working the register and he seemed like a nice fella. He told me he does all the baking and much of the cooking. I decided to give the Claremont location a try when it opened.

So in I went for lunch on Monday. I got the chicken stir-fry pita ($8.49), which wasn’t what I expected, having (apparently) mixed up the photos on the menu and liking the looks of a wrap. Oh well. This was chicken, broccoli, mushrooms and pea pods, in way too much teriyaki sauce, spilling out of a pita. No way to pick it up, so it was eaten knife-and-fork style. I’ve never seen this odd dish before and would suggest it be quickly retired.

Deciding to give the pie another shot, I tried banana cream ($4.29). Better than the apple (whew), but nothing special. If I want pie, I’m going to Flo’s or Corky’s or Marie Callender’s, where the extra calories won’t be wasted.

Certainly I wish Garden Square every success and am pleased to see these two chain restaurants in local hands. It’s possible the places are better than when they were Bakers Squares. (Some on Yelp say so and the people in the booth behind mine on Monday thought so too.) They do breakfast, lunch and dinner and they have a seniors menu. But based on my uneven meals there, life is too short for me to go back.

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  • Dave Serbin

    While my wife and I would agree with Mr. Allen that the La Verne location was so-so, we both felt the dinners we got at the Claremont location we surprisingly good. The salads were cold, crisp and very tasty. I had the Portabello pork chop and, although the pork chop was kinda small, it was very good and the mushrooms were very tasty. My wife’s comment was that the vegetables she got with her meal, were crisp, crunchy, and quite tasty. I had the coconut cream pie. It was good, but the owner claimed their pies were made fresh daily. Neither my wife nor I could find evidence that that was true.

    All in all, the Claremont location was pretty good. It offers a seniors discount, which we are able to enjoy. I believe we would give the Claremont restaurant an “8″ but it may have trouble competing with the Dennys, located just south of the freeway.

    [Thanks for the field report, Dave. -- DA]

  • Dennis

    Hi David,

    This was a pretty harsh review. At least you could have given the poor guy an “Honorable Mention” in the category of “Most Creative Re-use of an Existing Business Sign/Name.” I’ve seen way worse here in the valley.

    Dennis

    ["Harsh" seems a little, well, harsh given that I labeled it a mixed review, noted that the food could well be better than Bakers Square's and wished him well. I've seen worse too, but I'm not going to recommend them to paying customers. -- DA]

  • judi orosco

    My girlfriend and I stopped there for a piece of pie after her appointment next door at Kaiser. She had the Hawaiian and I had a lemon. Both were terrible. We said we’d never go back. The prices seemed a little bit too much. Almost $10 for two pieces. Nope!!!!