Yesterday Ian and I went to a lovely Saturday brunch at Garfield's, which is located in the small commercial center on Regatta Drive at the heart of Desert Shores. Although we had never heard of the restaurant before, we went at the request of one of my sister Maggie's co-workers who lives in the area and wanted us to check it out for her - Frugal Foodie to the rescue! Upon entering I was immediately pleased. The nautical-themed restaurant is situated on actual water (who cares if it's a fake lake) and reminded me of sitting at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica with my dad some years back. As we sat in the atrium I really enjoyed feeling like I wasn't in Vegas.
Our waiter Thomas was intuitive to our needs and gave us the time we needed to peruse the menu, indulging me by answering my numerous questions. His opinions of various dishes on the menu were honest, and, though we weren't able to try everything we wanted to, he gave us enough information to make us want to come back even before we ordered. After agonizing minutes of deliberation, we decided upon starting with the crab cakes (of course we had to try the seafood) followed by a salad nicoise and a side of potatoes au gratin.
The crab cakes ($12) were browned nicely and seasoned well, however, I missed the big chunks of lump crab meat that are a sign of a good crab cake. The backfin that was used instead of the lump was of good quality, though, and didn't have the tin taste that some do. The Dijon mustard sauce was really what made the dish successful and proved to us that the chef is in fact French (nobody does sauces like the French). It's acidity complimented the fried cakes and was a more inventive approach than serving them with the usual suspects like aoli or tartar sauce. After using the fresh and chewy bread to sop up the remaining sauce, we allowed them to remove the plate and make room for the salad and potatoes. The salad nicoise ($16) wasn't as visually appealing as it could have been, and I was sad that the tuna was from a can. I actually really dislike canned tuna fish, a personal aversion made worse by my freshman year roommate who ate it ALL the time in our teeny dorm room that lacked adequate ventilation. This was much better quality than 'chicken of the sea,' however, so was therefore tolerable to me. Most of the other components of the salad were fine, and the chef scores points for going to the extra trouble of soaking the thinly sliced onions in water(this dulls some of the bite). The haricot vert were crunchy, but Ian pointed out that they were blanched improperly because they weren't seasoned substantially enough on their own and were not as verdant as they should have been (the result of water that was not at a rolling boil when the green beans went in or not shocking them properly in ice cold water when they came out). The tomatoes were pithy so we didn't eat them, but the dressing almost made up for the salad's shortcomings. The au gratin potatoes ($7) made from organic Idaho potatoes were nothing unique, but they did come out out bubbly and cheesy, and were scrumptious with the addition of a little salt (I'd like to comment that they serve good salt on the table and a mini pepper mill, which we consider to be hallmarks of a good restaurant). After the meal Thomas brought me a free champagne cocktail, which was incredibly generous seeing as how I hadn't complained or anything to his face. He wanted me to try the grottes cherries in the cocktail that I had asked about, which were delicious. At $12 it would have been fairly expensive, but definitely worth it.
Would we order the potatoes again? Maybe. Would we order the salad again? Probably not. We probably wouldn't get the crab cakes again either actually. I don't want to be too harsh because the food was all pretty good, just a bit overpriced for what it was. I was intrigued enough to want to come back and try out some other dishes, though, perhaps the french toast with bananas that Thomas raved about or the blackened shrimp over pasta, which is not on the menu but apparently very popular.
The real reason to come here is for the ambiance of the atrium, which is unpretentious and cheery with a side of great views. We even saw a black swan guarding her eggs in a nearby nest while her mate patrolled the area to ensure their safety, either from us or the few turtles bobbing around in the lake - quite a sweet little scene for being in the desert!
Today's Food Rating: 7
Today's Drink Rating: 9
Ambiance: 9.5 (an extra point given for transporting me outside of Vegas)
Would we come back: YES, BUT WE'LL TRY SOME DIFFERENT THINGS NEXT TIME