All Aboard: Gardner Junction Restaurant | NBC Southern California

All Aboard: Gardner Junction Restaurant

The recently debuted eatery pays tribute to the trolleys of Old Hollywood.

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    Gardner Junction Restaurant
    Gardner Junction Restaurant pays tribute to the trolleys of Old Hollywood.

    Enthusiasts who obsess over Tinseltown's old-time trolleys are an impressive force to be reckoned with.

    The Pacific Electric once ruled the early roads of the area, and the red cars that gave the trolleys their handle -- "Red Cars" -- were a sight as common as sunshine. Modern fans re-trace routes and study track maps and know bunches about how far and where the iconic vehicles traveled.

    And while the Red Cars of the 1920s are no more, there is a new restaurant that is homaging that era, and the Pacific Electric style, with some dash and dining-fresh style. Nope, Gardner Junction, which is wrapping its first few months on the Hollywood scene, is not movable, nor does it slide about on tracks, but the interior very much recalls the era of long-ago rail travel, with new booths and lighting that could have hailed from a vintage Fred Harvey station.

    The food also has the flair of another time, what with the eatery's "farm-driven" philosophy and devotion to American classics like grass-fed burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and omelets brimming with veges straight from the farmers market stalls.

    Chef and owner Steve Brown was inspired by "his ever-growing organic garden" as well as the changes of the season.

    Two twists on the usual dine-out traditions? The dinnertime "shared plate format" boasts 21 items which are listed "from lightest to heaviest, like a tasting menu." Look for a Farmers Plate containing "a harmony of vegetables using multiple techniques" as well as Rabbit Sausage complete with heirloom ragu, goat ricotta, and kale flour linguine." Americana plus elegance plus whimsy, in edible form.

    The other feather in Gardner Junction's conductor-style cap? A Runyon Canyon hike with Chef Brown, followed by brunch back at the restaurant. The Sunday morning meetups start early — 8 o'clock — and after a bit of exertion, everyone heads back to the train station/brunchery for some hearty, flavorful vittles, vittles that come with 15 percent shaved off as part of the Runyon hike deal.

    Moving in various forms — trolleys and treks up hills — rule Gardner Junction, thematically, while modern eats with fresh farmy organic flavors rule the plates.

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