If you’re looking for a nice brunch outing with the family but don’t want a carb-heavy, over the top experience, look no further than Garden Bistro 24 in Slingerlands or Latham. I have always liked the Slingerlands location but it is never busy when I’m there, even at peak brunch time. I can’t decide why this is – I guess something about the location in an isolated plaza near Shoprite in the suburbs does feel pretty sterile, and I don’t think it’s an area that people often think of for brunch. But the restaurant space is modern and clean, and there is a nice outdoor patio. And most importantly, I have always found the food to be lovely, with fresh seasonal produce and vibrant flavors.
Brunch is only offered on Sundays from 10 am – 2 pm, and the menu is a fairly simple rotating mix of egg dishes, crepes, salads, burgers, french toast, and one or two entrees. I especially like that you can get something light here. Even though I do enjoy a heaping plate of pancakes every now and then, sometimes I just want something like a simple chicken and mushroom crepe served with a side salad.
On a recent visit, a plate of blackened shrimp with a sweet potato and brussels sprouts hash was calling my name. This was a beautifully presented dish, with fresh little pea sprouts perched on top of a mound of hash and well cooked eggs (crispy on the bottom with nice runny yolks). The hash was mostly made up of chunks of tender sweet potato with a generous presence of rosemary and shredded bits of brussels sprouts. There was also a scattering of little meaty bits – perhaps pancetta – that added some nice chewy contrast and a bit of salt. The shrimp were densely coated in seasoning and cooked to a delightful level of char.
If you’re not feeling like you want to go light, try one of the burgers here. They are a bit on the pricey side, but are really loaded with savory toppings and well cooked. On this visit the restaurant was serving a brunch burger topped with cheddar, bacon, avocado, spinach, and a fried egg. It’s also worth noting that the fries here are pretty close to perfection. They are classic shoestring fries, always cooked to a nice crispiness and well seasoned.
For more of a lunch dish, I can’t recommend the salads at Garden Bistro 24 enough. Not only do I think the produce is very high quality, but the salad dressings are house-made and really unique. My favorite is the countryside salad, composed of mixed greens with asparagus, radishes, peas, cheddar, roasted soybeans, and sprouts. I like to get this one with grilled shrimp and I always choose the maple mustard vinaigrette, a dressing combination that sounds a little funky but really works with elements of sweetness offsetting the acidity of a vinaigrette. Actually all of the dressings here are wonderful (and you can also buy them by the jar to take home).
It’s a shame that Garden Bistro 24 in Slingerlands isn’t always packed, because it should be based on the quality of the dishes served. But at the same time it’s kind of nice to be able to come here and enjoy a quiet meal without having to be crammed into a small table in between a bunch of other small tables at a bustling downtown location. This is a great spot for a casual, leisurely brunch with family members (and it also seems like a great place to come with small children, who have lots of space and don’t have to wait in line). The food is always fresh and well executed, and there are lots of lighter, vegetable focused options.