The view alone makes it a must-try restaurant.
On the 13th floor of One Summit Square, the Window Garden Café provides a look at the city no other eatery can match.
Picture windows lining the north and south walls of the restaurant allow diners a stunning look at the city. To the north, you can spot the giant cranes that are part of the construction of the Parkview Regional Medical Center off Dupont Road; and to the south, the view down to the green grass of Parkview Field is pretty awesome.
The looks of this cafeteria-style restaurant are also pretty awesome. Remodeled within the past year, the Window Garden has the slick, clean appearance that many of the offices inside Fort Waynes tallest structure probably wish they had. Its light wood, floor-to-ceiling glass dividers and modern furnishings give it the feel of a Fortune 500 meeting room, but there is a lot of space to roam, and it is comfortable.
But the positives dont stop at the aesthetics. The food, although not as new and fancy, was respectable.
The Window Garden offers a hot-meal special daily for $6.69, and the pot roast I tried during my first visit was worth every penny. The tender, stringy, still-pink beef had a great flavor, which I assumed came from the classic, one-pan roasting method as I found a chunk of cooked celery in mine. The brown gravy that covered most of it was just OK, as the meat and thick, heavy mashed potatoes really didnt need it.
The same homemade touches were evident in the Window Gardens soups, which also vary daily. The American vegetable had the usual mirepoix of vegetables but also included zucchini, cauliflower, mushroom and tomato chunks. It was vegetarian-friendly, and the meatless broth was perfectly seasoned and surprisingly hearty.
The onion soup was also well prepared with a lot of sweetness coming from the caramelized onions, and the only drawback was that the advertised parmesan crouton was nowhere to be found. Plain from-a-bag croutons were the only thing offered when I inquired. The chili was the only soup I wouldnt recommend as it was bland, more like tomato-beef soup than chili.
I can recommend all of the items I sampled from the Window Garden grill – a separate made-to-order area across from the hot line with a variety of sandwich offerings.
The Philly cheese steak was served on a sesame seed-topped hoagie roll and had Swiss cheese dripping over the sides. The steak was decent, and the generous amount of onion and green and red peppers made it an all-around solid sandwich. The griddle put a nice sear on the Angus cheeseburger, which was topped with a fresh green leaf of romaine and a juicy tomato slice.
The onion rings were much better than the french fries, which were limp, lifeless and terribly underdone. The rings spent the perfect amount of time in the fryer and their coarse, gritty breading was plenty crispy. They also were whole rings, not ones filled with compressed, minced onions.
The only meal that I didnt find acceptable was the taco special. Chicken or beef with hard or soft shell were offered with refried beans and Spanish rice.
The tortilla for my chicken soft taco was dry and brittle, and the seasoned chicken was so watery it ran out into a puddle on the plate. The beef was also rather moist, making my hard-shell taco pretty soft. The flavor was not bad on either, but they were impossible to handle.
The beans were fine, and the rice was surprisingly tasty, though a bit sticky.
There were plenty of desserts to choose from, including cafeteria staples like pudding parfaits, which are always a treat. But the pies were clearly the best option.
The highlight was one I had never tried before – buttermilk. It looked and tasted much like a sugar cream pie, but it had a browned, chewy top and just a hint of sour buttermilk flavor. I also found the blueberry to be above par thanks to a fruity filling and a lot of sugar dusted on the top crust.
The Window Garden Café wasnt exactly upper crust in terms of its offerings, but it was decent – about what you would expect from any office building or hospital cafeteria.
When you factor in its impressive digs and that one-of-a-kind view of the city, I am sure you will want to go back.
Restaurant: Window Garden Café
Address: 1300 Summit St.
Hours: 7 to 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Credit cards: Yes
Menu: Soup ($2.09 cup, $2.49 bowl), daily specials ($6.69), Angus burger ($4.39), Philly cheese steak ($4.29), fries ($1.59), pie ($1.89)
atmosphere: * (1 maximum), service: 1/2 (1 maximum)
Note: Restaurants are categorized by price range: $ (less than $20 for three-course meal), $$ ($20-$29); $$$ ($30-$39), $$$$ ($40-$49), $$$$$ ($50 and up).