Il Giardino is an upscale Italian restaurant downtown on Hornby. They are closed on holidays.
We went to Dine Out Vancouver last night with another couple. None of us had ever been to Il Giardinos for dinner. Overall, the experience was decent, not great and not poor. For the money, it was rather disappointing considering we had heard good things about Il Giardinos.
For the appetizer, three of us had the Parmesan-Lemon Crusted Scallop and Grilled Jumbo Prawn Garlic Butter with leeks saffron risotto and the wife had the Balsamic Caramelized Fig Arugula Watercress Mix Salad
with shaved provolone & aged balsamic. The scallop and prawn was quite tasty; the salad was another uneventful green salad.
For the mains, the guys had the Angus Beef Braised Short Ribs
with polenta, caramelized shallots, roasted carrots
& steamed broccolini. The shallots and vegs were overdone and tasteless. The beef was rich and melted in your mouth; not bad. The wife had the pasta Cannelloni Ricotta Cheese & Spinach Florentine portion was small (we were warned) and not something she would have again. The other spouse enjoyed the seared Fillet of Arctic Char Vegetable Tartina pomme parigine & braised cabbage. The creme brulee and mousse were standard fare. We each had a glass of wine from the wine list. The recommended wine pairings were not what we would have picked.
The service was poor. Our server was abrupt and rude. We had to ask to be served water and wine, and the server was rude with the bill. The food was not well presented and at times, things seem very rushed.
The restaurant itself was very nicely decorated in in Italia old. Lighting and ambience was just right, even though it was a very busy Saturday night. However, the poor service overshadowed what would have been a nice evening out.
My husband and I were looking forward to our first time at Il Giardino, and had a reservation for a Friday night during the dine out Vancouver. Although we enjoyed each other's company and had a generally good time, we were quite disappointed with our dining experience. Firstly, we felt super rushed.. we were in and out in about an hour for a 3-course meal and a bottle of wine. We had hardly finished the starter before the main was on our table. For a romantic dinner, it would have been nice to relax and enjoy ourselves... Second, my entree, the Sable Fish, wasn't quite right (it was probably a bit overcooked). Maybe with the dine-out menu the kitchen just doesn't put the same amount of care and attention into the dish because of the lower cost...
Perhaps this restaurant should not be participating in the Dine Out Vancouver if they are not prepared to treat dine out customers in the same manner as the regular guests.. They had an opportunity to impress us first-timers, and sadly failed to a point where I doubt we'll be back.
I've always heard about Il Giardino, and it's owner Umberto. For years and years. Last week I finally decided to give it a try. It was a Tuesday night, and they were full-the hype and PR obviously brings the customers in.
The service was not very good. When we were waiting to get more drinks, we could actually see our waiter outside having a smoke!!
I had the carbonara pasta which was both bland and salty at the same time. Also the pasta was overcooked, totally unacceptable in an Italian restaurant!
My husband had the Pesto, which he said same thing, bland and salty.
The room looks authentic Italian, but quite dingy, in need of a clean up!
When all said and done for dinner for the two of us, with tax and tip it came to about $120. About double what I would expect to pay in a little Italian trattoria.
Obviously they trade on the name, not the quality.
We went out on Saturday Novemeber 24,2012. Dinner then Cirque was the plan.
Dinner was absolutely incredible. The Server was even better, believe it or not!
We had the pleasure of having Janusz help us that night. He was the best server we have ever had the experience of having. He came to our table when we needed him and was off doing other tables at the right intervals. Our dinner was so enjoyable. we actually didn't want to leave.
Janusz should be commended on his ability to "read" his patrons and we were so thankful for the incredible service we received.
Janusz should be recognized for his service, he made Il Giradino's the best dining experince EVER.
Janusz was always smiling and very happy to help. He is very good at what he does. Very passionate.
We appreciated the efficiency Janusz showed us while visiting this restaurant.
Thank You so much Janusz!!!!! Keep up the great work.
-Veronica & Matt
These days can only afford Il Giardino during Dine Out Vancouver as the prices are very steep here. I mean really $21 for a Spinach Salad appetizer!! The food really is amazing tho. We had the Hot Spinach Salad with Tiger Prawns (only because ot was part of the Dine Out menu), Seafood Pasta that was cooked to perfection and an Orange Cake that didn't really grab this sweet tooth.
It was a very busy mid week night, tables are quite close together and it amazes me how many people arrived out for dinner with baby strollers in such a small place! The noise level was so high it would keep any baby awake let alone allow the adults to have a conversation without yelling. The loud chatter does not make for a relaxed ambience. We left earlier than usual and found a quiet coffee bar to relax and enjoy some conversation.
We arrived at opening, do to our plans for the evening. Another couple joined us moments after. Initially welcomed nicely through the door, upon entering, there seemed a tension in the air as staff bustled about. Not a jovial team looking forward to the evening. They seemed disconnected and in heavy thought. I jokingly whispered with regard to a possible 'pissy' staff meeting. None the less we were very much looking forward to our meal, and savoring the beautifully adorned establishment. Unfortunately, our waitress was impassive with a dry tone. We murmured amongst ourselves that she must be having an off day, or conceivably, the staff meeting...hardy har. We discussed returning in the near future to enjoy the alluring patio. Appetizer, bottle of vino, and entree all topped the charts, yet, sadly our waitress's demeanor persevered into dessert. The discussion became uncomfortable as we were disconcerted by our experience and observations. Our collaborative resolve was 15%, all be it generous considering her pronounced vivacious attentiveness to the adjacent table.
It represented value in the food and surroundings only. On exiting I experienced a slight yet effective sweep of an arm going up the stairs. Then turning to find it was attached to the very person that served our table.( very unsure what to make of this) Walking out the doors we proclaimed our experience with shock and bewilderment.
Extremely unfortunate as we all would have loved to make it a regular visit. Instead only a question mark remains.
We were a party of four, and our meals were great. We have no complaints about the food, and dessert (cheesecake) was fabulous too. The ambiance is inspiring, a lofty room with a tremendous wine selection on display.
Unfortunately, we had horrifying service. Our waitress was rude and brusque. Maybe it's because we are under 40, or because we were the first people at the restaurant (we had to make the Eddie Izzard show, so we ate at 5:30 pm), but she really hated us. We figured it was just a bad night for her, but she was all smiles with the older and obviously well-heeled table beside ours.
My food was thrown down in front of me at terminal velocity. The cannelloni actually shifted up the side of the bowl, which crashed into my wine glass and nearly knocked it over (I caught it).
We still tipped 15%, because we felt the kitchen deserved it. Unfortunately, this was the wrong thing to do, as later when we were heading towards the door our crazy waitress physically pushed my (quite short) girlfriend in the back, apparently to get her out of the way. She stumbled forward on her heels and the waitress brushed past without a word of apology.
Afterwards, we stood on the sidewalk outside, stunned by what had happened. My recommendation: stay away. There are other great Italian places in Vancouver. Fantastic food isn't enough to overcome the distinct feeling that you are held in contempt by your waitress, for whatever reason.
Eddie Izzard was great though, and thus the evening was salvaged.
I went there for a special Christmas get together with my girlfriends (12 of us) admittedly some time ago during X-mas 2008. However I can't imagine much has changed since this place is doing so well.
Let's face it 12 girls who on average weigh 110lbs are not going to eat much or drink that much. I spend a lot of money on food, however as a whole we are unable to eat very much. It's the laws of nature Small size = Small stomach. This establishment is very much a place with service is dependent on your ability to consume. Our waiter was never negligent but often seemed patronizing.
But everybody has different thresholds for service.
Regarding the food, *sigh* first let me qualify by saying I have probably turned food back once in the past 5 years. Additionally, one of my gfs there works at a high-end restaurant herself and is very conscious of restaurant dining etiquette. Her and I both ordered the same dish, some sort of pasta with seafood, and both of us had to turn our food back while feeling almost guilty doing so. The shrimp and scallops in the seafood were previously frozen which would could have accepted (albeit not expected in such an establishment) but the problem was that it suffered from freezer burn. It was cardboardy and had the texture of pork that had been severely overcooked. Another girl also had to send her dish back. Keep in mind we're the sort that will only ever make negative comments to one another and NEVER to a restaurant to have a waiter send it back.
It's already awkward sending food back but a server's reaction can make or break your mindset after the fact. Our server was not amused. It was evident he didn't agree with our opinions. If it were just me and another person it may have been slightly uncomfortable the rest of the evening.
Regarding the value rating- it's a 3 as it's not overpriced for whats it's presenting itself to be but it's also not an inexpensive restaurant. So it gets a middle of the road rating.
The restaurant also seems to cater to chachi types. IE. those who strut around with skantily clad girls and drink and yell loudly during dinner and wear their button up shirts wide open with a gold chain dangling in front. The table next to us was that type and they were often yelling and attempting to join into our dinner conversation trying to one up their boys. If you're looking for a rambunctious night out this won't affect your much. But I did feel for the middle aged couple seated against the wall in our particular room of this restaurant
This restaurant just has a total poser feel to it. This is one of the very few restaurants in the city where I would actually decline to go back to if somebody suggested it or held an event there.
My wife and I took our new neighbours to Il Giardino because they like traditional Italian food, and they go quite a bit. I should have made a reservation in their names instead of ours, and maybe we would have been treated with at least some form of civilized manner. It starts and ends at the door.
My wife and I arrived at the time of our reservation, and I received a message on my phone that our guests would be late. We spoke to the M'aitre 'd and gave our names, telling him that our guests would be late. "Snotty" is the word I would use. I retired as the CFO of one of the largest oil companies in the world, and have dined with captains of industry, and never been made to feel as unwelcome as I did at that moment. I asked to wait in the bar, and was told "NO, the bar is full, SIR"
so we stood in the narrow crowded hallway for 20 minutes as waiters carried all manner of food and drink past us, and were never offered anything.
When our guests arrived, the host's manner sure changed.
Apparently our guests are well known for many years in this restaurant, and the man at the door all but kissed them when he said 'Buena Serra' then remarked to me that I should have told him who my guests were and we would have been seated. Somehow, I was made to look bad in front of my guests because I had queued up and refused to name drop to get my way.
Though I found no fault with the food or the waiter's service, the restaurant was old and dingy, and not in a charming way; in a 'could use a good scrubbing' way. Crumbs on our chairs, unmatching cutlery (like a dessert fork for my salad course while the others at my table had salad forks). I actually laughed out loud when the M'aitre 'd told the busboy 'make sure they get breadsticks'
We tried the owner's own vinyard when we selected wine, and it was good. The food was regionally correct, and I was impressed that our waiter had been there 'forever'.
I found out that the man from the door is the manager of the restaurant, and he came to check on us. I don't know if he meant to come across that way or if it is just his own manner, but I watched the 180 degree shift right before my eyes from when I was a stranger to him, to knowing regular patrons of the restaurant and it did not sit well with me. I remarked about the man who was SMOKING, and my guest and the manager both told me that he was allowed.
Had we not had guests with us, I would have walked out long before we got a table. It is important to note than our waiter was a saving grace, but my mark is still a 1 for service. Days later, I still have a bad taste in my mouth.
I would not go back, and if you do want to go I recommend that you drop a name or two, or at least be a little famous to get treated like your money is worth something.
Dined on Friday, December 19/08. Incredibly crowded and busy. Good for Il Giardino, bad for diners. Our reservation was 7:30, we weren't seated until 7:45 and dinner order wasn't taken until 8:30. Food was very slow in arriving to the table although it was excellent once it came. The restaurant was very nicelydecorated for the Christmas season but was clearly overbooked and overcrowded which does not make for an enjoyable evening for diners. I hope to return on an evening when the restaurant is more interested in making it a pleasant dining experience rather than what appeared to be an attempt to crowd in as many diners as possible.
My husband and I went for my birthday to this restaurant last Saturday night. We were brought to our table immediately but the room was loud and bellowing-- so much for the romantic atmosphere so widely promised. It was a disappointing meal. We have fun together regardless but the food sure wasn't all it's been cracked up to be. Main problem: Bland! (and overcooked in my case) My husband had arrabiata pasta which was a long way from spicy. He doesn't have a taste for anything too spicy so when he says a dish meant to be "arrabiata" is beyond mild into bland, I believe him. I had "Tortelloni Squash" which was limp -- the pasta was a lot like won tons that had been sitting in soup for hours. The beet salad we shared was average. The bread was good enough. The meal, with a bottle of prossecco and another cocktail each came to 134$. Overall I wouldn't rate it highly. I've certainly had far better Italian food in town. Hell, I make far better Italian food at home!
We showed up on a saturday evening with no reservations. I wasn't expecting to get in but they managed to seat us within 15 minutes in the main dining room. The place was packed and very loud. The waiter was curt but friendly enough and gave good suggestions for vegetarian entrees and wine. I had a wonderful Squash Tortellini with mushrooms and my friend had the Ahi Tuna. The bread they start you off with is simply *amazing* It's very soft and a one variety tasted like the sweet bread my italian friend makes.
They seem a bit under staffed considering the huge crowd. It was a bit hard to get the servers attention to order more wine.
Overall a good experience and fantastic food. I can't wait for warmer weather to have lunch on the outdoor patio. You feel as though you are in Italy!
I would not consider this restaurant to be Fine Dining. Not that it is a bad place, the food and service is okay, but if Fine Dining is what your looking for, you might as well go elsewhere. The food is not what I remember it being, not a lot of flavour. We both agreed that our Friday night visit would be our last dining experience at Il Giardino.
Perfect place to have a romantic dinner with someone special. The cozy, italian-style atmosphere gives you the relaxation you much needed from busy weekdays. The food is great and desserts are awesome. I love their creme brulee... (can't comment too much on their main courses as I'm more of a dessert person ;P)
I'm not sure why this place is part of the Dineout promotion. Although we have eaten here several times, this was the first time ordering from the Dineout menu. The food was good (not great as it usually is), but the portions were the size of appetizers. For $35 for a 3-course dinner, I guess something has to be sacrificed. Is watering down the menu the best thing to do? Probably, not. The service also seemed very rushed and lacked the extra personal touch one would expect at a place of this calibre. Despite the bill being well over $100 for two, we were in and out of there in 60 minutes flat. We will come back when the promotion is over.
Went here for the dineout. Food was simply amazing. I had the salad, short ribs, and creme brulee. Everything was just perfect... all the small things just added up. The short ribs was so soft... didnt even have to use a knife - it would just melt in your mouth. The only thing they could improve on is their service. It's a well-known restaurant... but the employees were kinda cocky - you can just feel it. And the parking was a struggle (valet = $10). But overall, a nice place for special occasions
This place did it completely for me. Nothing else they could have done to make it a better experience. The aspect that will make me rave the loudest is how customer oriented the staff were. Polite, helpful, it was all about me. Other restauranteurs take note!
Very classy joint too I had the opportunity to look around a bit as they were closing. Fantastic setup. It had a great affect on my eating experience.
My wife and I have been here twice since we found out about it and we plan to go back again and again. Their garden setting is fantastic and the food superb.
The wine list is extensive but it didn't really matter that much to us because I only drink one glass and my wife doesn't drink. We love the fish, the scallops and the prawn entrees and of course the desserts.
This has been my favourite restaurant for years. Sadly they got rid of my favourite appetizer, the prawns wrapped in potato with balsamic glaze, however, the beef tenderloin with red wine reduction continues to be my favourite entree. This is one of the best steaks in the city; it melts in your mouth. The bread is amazing, the service is wonderful, and the owner is always wandering about making sure everyone is happy.
The best ambiance is in the back area, not the bar seating, and the terrace is beautiful in the summer. Hands-down my all-time favourite romantic and/or celebration spot. Dining here makes for an evening in itself.
Ive been coming to this place for quite some time now, celebrated My new years eve 3 times in a row, and its been fantastic, food is amazing!!!
The food is just like an Italian Famiglia will cook ya at home, trust me and I'm Italian myself!! It's very disappointing reading all the bad reviews, it's too bad cuz this place is a gem....
As for Dineout,$35.00 will never be the same as, "No Dineout" at $90.00
You pay for what you get....
Service is Fantastic!!!!
They also have great espresso in a great thick rimmed cup, now thats what you call a good espresso!!!
I order pasta(gnocchi) with a gorgonzola sauce all the time, and its not even on the menu, and "guess what guys"They say "eh" No problem it can be done.... Now thats what you call Great Service....
You want real Italian food, come here!!!
All of Umberto Menghi"s restaurants are "The Best"