remodel that started May 1 was quietly completed with a soft opening June 3 and is now ready for fans of Hilda Hattar’s Mediterranean cuisine to return to the renamed Garden Bistro.
The new menu has a heavier focus on small plate items and made with sustainable and organic ingredients, according to Hattar.
Small plate items like the fig and goat chesse bruschetta ($8), risotto with Italian sausage ($9.50), and dolmas ($7.50) could easily serve as entrees, especially when combined with a half-salad or cup of soup.
The Garden Bistro kept some of the favorite from the old menu, including salads (fattoush, tabouleh and Mediterranean) and entrees like the lamb shank with couscous ($24) and beef ossobuco with herb risotto ($24). But regular customers know that the daily specials are the items where Hilda Hattar’s creativity and imagination are evident.
To complement the meal, the restaurant has a wine list with 23 selections available by the glass.
According to Hattar, what started out as a redecoration of the dining room turned into a full-scale remodel of the kitchen. Even the parking lot got a fresh coat of slurry and striping.
Upgrades to the dining room include reclaimed wood tables, stained concrete flooring, new lighting fixtures and a beautifully color-coordinated paint palette used on the walls and seating.
The restaurant remains a family business with Hattar’s husband, Saddeh Hattar, often there chatting with customers.
Hilda Hattar said that after 20 years the change was due. She added that she wanted to do it for “the next generation” of diners. But she was also speaking of family, saying her daughter Nadia is now going to be in charge of the bistro.
The Garden Bistro is at 333 Enfrente Road, Novato, 883-9277, Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday; Dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday; Sunday Brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. gardenmedrestaurant.com.