New: Fresh Eats at The Huntington

A refresh to the tea room is just one of the recent eats-oriented happenings at the San Marino landmark.

Perhaps you have a yard, and within that yard is a garden, and the garden holds a flower bed, the kind of plot you hope will one day burst with roses and daisies and peonies and hyacinths.

You keep an eye on it, day after day, and then phoosh: There are fabulous flowers, and petals, and all sorts of pretty changes, seemingly overnight. 

Your garden's seemingly sudden beauty didn't happen in a few hours, of course, much like the new restaurants, and recent updates, at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens didn't just spring from the ground in a single morning.

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A number of fresh food choices have long been in the works at the serene San Marino spread, with some major star wattage attached, including Blue Window's Kajsa Alger and Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Border Grill.

The trio of lauded chefs, along with the Bon Appetit Management Company, have developed a flavorful complement of cuisine-rich options for the treasure-filled gardens, a 120-acre oasis that's celebrated for exquisite flora as well as a host of priceless artworks and history-famous documents. 

Those restaurants are rolling out over the middle of November, with some that are familiar to Huntington fans — the Rose Garden Tea Room remains, but with a menu freshen-up — and new places, too, such as the Patio Grill, a grab-a-Cubano-sandwich spot near the Shakespeare Garden (and, yes, the tea room, too). A roasted yam and quinoa salad is another piquant pick at the casual, eat-and-go location, which indeed offers an alfresco setting for diners.

If you're longing for "dumplings and noodle dishes," the kind of amazing nibbles "drawn from the many regions of China as well as surrounding influences such as Nepal and Mongolia," take a peaceful stroll to The Huntington's Chinese Garden, where the Freshwater Dumpling and Noodle House is now open. Then sip a hot or cold tea alongside your noodles, or perhaps a beer, and gaze upon The Garden of Flowing Fragrance or another frame-worthy vista (the garden boasts several).

And the Red Car Coffee Shop near The Huntington's entrance serves up its steamy namesake, as well as local goodies like Fosselman's ice cream. A short saunter away is 1919, the place to find wood-fired pizzas and pastas and wine and pastries.

Like the roses that suddenly bloom nearly simultaneously in your own garden, The Huntington's new and updated restaurants didn't pop up overnight. Seeds were planted long ago, and menus devised, and plans put in place.

But to see these sustenance-filled spots flower all at once is a treat, especially because a vigorous day spent covering The Huntington's vast grounds can make a visitor rather peckish at various points along the pathways.

Those pathways now wend near a host of appetizing eats that honor global cuisine, classic tea bites, and the kind of hearty snacks that get you back on the garden path and admiring all of those spectacular succulents and sculptures.

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