Updated: May 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm
The adage that good things come in small packages no longer applies to the Garden of the Gods Gourmet Market and Café - the catering/restaurant/gourmet foods shop isn't undersized anymore - but it's good. Very good.
In its former Old Colorado City location, the focus was on the shop and catering, with the cafe often seeming an afterthought. Now, in its new home at the corner of South 26th Street and Highway 24, there seems to be more attention to the cafe. A large dining area open for breakfast and lunch is bright and airy and features numerous enticing menu items. The open kitchen, visible from throughout the dining room, bustles with activity.
Salads, hot and cold sandwiches, a daily soup and quiche comprise the lunch menu. I think a good lunch menu should fit on one page without resorting to small fonts or oversized paper. GOGG does a fine job of meeting this basic yardstick.
The Roasted Tomato Caprese Panini, served with a side of house-made marinara, was like eating a summer garden. As the plate arrived at the table, so did wafts of fresh basil. The licorice fragrance was a prelude to the seasonal flavors of oven-dried grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and pesto. The marinara for dipping was a bonus. The panini is served hot or cold, but the server pointed out melted cheese makes it better.
I used to think the best time for a turkey sandwich was the day after Thanksgiving. GOGG's Turkey Cranberry Sandwich packed hearty amounts of sliced turkey between two slices of whole grain bread. The fresh, tart cranberry sauce kept the turkey moist and reminiscent of the holidays. Sandwiches come with house-made potato chips. They're crispy with just the right amount of sea salt. They're also visually appealing.
It's hard to resist desserts knowing they're made on the premises - and when the first thing visible upon entering the building is a large display case of fresh-baked goodies. Although pretty filled up by the sandwiches, we decided to try one dessert and settled on the Mojito Strawberry Shortcake. This wasn't shortcake at all, but round discs about the thickness of crackers described on the menu as "rum cake crouton crisps." They were crunchier than the chips. The mojito-macerated strawberries were the stars of the plate.
Weekends, brunch is served from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features items from both the weekday breakfast and lunch menus.
Breakfast specials include a daily quiche and the frittata of the day (on this day, Frittata del Giorno). This Italian omelet was chock-full of applewood smoked bacon, leeks, poblano and Monterey Jack cheese. It was like having the tastiest elements of the food pyramid in every bite. Buttered toast complemented the frittata.
The real treat came in the form of a choice of jams made in-house. We chose the sweet/tangy blueberry-raspberry jam. Peach and blueberry were also available.
The menu includes multigrain pancakes, chilaquiles, eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, granola, banana bread French toast and a traditional two-egg, two-meat plate called The Classic. This is my husband's kind of breakfast. His over-hard, crack-the-yolk eggs were cooked exactly as he likes. He was slightly disappointed with the sausage patties, which lacked robustness. The leek potato hash was more crispy than creamy, but still very good, thanks to the leeks, a fused milder version of onion and garlic.
The spacious dining room has a few negatives. One is the noise, which can rise to levels making it difficult to carry on a conversation in a reasonable tone. The other downside is room temperature; it gets cold. Even when most of the tables are occupied, body mass does not make a difference.
On my breakfast and lunch visits I arrived before the tables began to fill up. The longer I delayed leaving, the more packed the dining area became. I'm not taking credit, or blame, for bringing in the crowds that accelerate the noise level, just making an observation.
Garden of the Gods Gourmet Market and Café.
Restaurant character: Family-friendly, bright, contemporary ambiance. Café is open for breakfast and lunch, a large bakery case greets customers as they enter and the shop features gourmet items and several in-house prepared foods for takeout. Catering is also available.
Rating total: 4.2 out of 5 forks
Food: 4.5 out of 5 forks
Ambiance: 4 out of 5 forks
Service: 4 out of 5 forks
Address: 410 S. 26th St
Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday (gourmet shop and bakery open until 7 p.m.)
Entrees: $5.50 to $14.
Alcohol: Wine sold in the market
Credit cards: Yes
Vegetarian options: Salads, daily soup and quiche
Gluten-free options: Salads
What's online as of May 23:
- 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 19 reviews on TripAdvisor
- 70 percent of 10 voters "liked it" on Urban Spoon (last update July)
- 5 out of 5 stars based on 19 reviews on Yelp
- Active on Facebook