Sunday, December 30, 2012

Serene Gardens: Garden Center & Cafe

In preparation for the upcoming Japanese International Dinner, I've been experimenting with traditional recipes from rural Japan. Dishes from mountain farms are simple in construction but contain an unforgettable depth of flavor.

I've been reading Japanese blogs like The Humble Bean and Bohnenhase. Books like Japanese Farm Book and Washoku. I've also visited a number of restaurants in the area, sampling their food. Ichiban was my most recent stop prior to Serene Gardens and I liked their plating and flavors, but Serene seems to be one step beyond them.
I drove through picturesque and slightly nerve-wracking wintery weather to get to the garden center and discovered an exquisite hideaway. They opened in April of 2012, but it appears as though they have been there for years, rather than months; their website photos show a fully developed garden and center.

When I first stepped in the shop I noticed the intense scent of pine from the boughs and wreathes. It was such a delightful change from the artificial scents blown in most shops this time of year. The colors, fresh plants, the pottery all worked together, pulling me in further.

The center's commitment to providing organic and sustainably sourced product was wonderful to see.

There are a large number of gardening tools and other supplies, including items for Ikebana.

There are also a large number of distinctively Japanese items for sale.

The dining area is spacious and beautifully decorated.

A large Christmas tree sat in it's center, covered in all sorts of fun Japanese ornaments.

The front counter pulls you right in. I was eager to start ordering and chose a loose leaf Pu'erh tea, chocolate mint fusion, to begin with.


I also ordered a tuna roll. The wrap was so fresh that it had a tackiness not often found in local sushi shops. They were served with a modest amount of wasabi and freshly sliced ginger.

This soba, buckwheat noodle, soup with soy and bonito base, cubes of tofu, broccoli florets,  slivered carrots, minced green onions, and slivered mushrooms was hearty and rich.

This year-round garden center and cafe is not that far from Buffalo or Niagara Falls and is worth the adventure of traversing the Grand Island bridges! Family and pocketbook friendly, I'll definitely be back soon.

Serene Gardens on Urbanspoon

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