Sometimes you just need a girls afternoon – a sunny day with maybe an out-of-town friend on a surprise visit and nothing to do but play. I got one of these delightful days and it corresponded to the opening weekend of Garces Trading Co., the new casual dining/gourmet food store by Jose Garces. The line was long, and you can’t call a reservation in, but I arrived early, put our names in, requested a long window table, and browsed. First the olive oils and vinegars, then the cheeses and pastries, and finally the PLCB boutique insidethe restaurant. A revelation. Specialty selected bottles from $10 – $200 that go directly from the glass enclosed display area to your table. And if, like me, you happen to pick up a blush bubbly for the fun of it, the host will chill it for you until your table is ready.
I can’t say enough of about the blushingly good service, the olive oil, baguette and flake salt on the table, the casual but clean design of the space. Unfortunately, we devoured our chef’s selection of cheeses with condiments before I could take a photo. The piquillo peppers, with sherry and olive oil pictured above, were suitable, but nothing special.
Alongside antipasti, pasta, grill, soups and salads and more ambitious plates du jour, Garces Trading Co. offers a brief pizza menu. Wood-fired on stone, the pizzas have the crispy, thin crust that you would expect, and a slightly sweet sauce. Though I longed for the Funghi with maitakes, royal trumpets, taleggio,
black truffles, I was among mushroom haters (why do I hang out with these people!) so we settled on a classic Margherita with fresh mozzarella and basil. Surprising light, among three people it made for a perfect snack, not a hearty meal. But we had our blush bubbly, our long afternoon, our wonderful service, and it was a certain kind of heaven.