Everything to Know About The Garden at Horses
At the end of September, the chefs Liz Johnson and Will Aghajanian opened the gates to The Garden at Horses. In some ways, it is an extension of their buzzy California bistro Horses — specifically in terms of physical proximity, cuisine, and nomenclature. But for the most part, the Garden at Horses is a standalone restaurant with its own menu, an entirely alfresco dining room, and a dedicated waitstaff. The setting is lush and a little bit Bohemian, for which Johnson and Aghajanian have crafted a menu anchored in refreshing cocktails and wood-fired pizzettes.
“We just wanted a place where we could drink spritzes and hang out,” says Aghajanian. That’s one way to think of the Garden. Another is that considering how tough it can be to nab a table at Horses, the Garden’s 48 seats are a welcome addition to the footprint at 7617 Sunset Boulevard.
Here’s everything else you need to know before you go.
1. You’ll want to start with a spritz or a Garibaldi.
There are several spritzes on offer, or try a bright-orange Garibaldi — Campari and frothy fresh orange juice. The drinking culture at The Garden is chic and casual by design. Maybe your table would like a round of Bellinis to start? And since we’re in California, not Italy, margaritas are an option as well.
2. The Horses Caesar is available in the Garden. Otherwise, the menu is mostly brand-new.
Johnson describes the Garden’s menu as “much more pared down” compared to Horses. There will be 12-14 items in total, with a focus on appetizers and pizzettes cooked in a royal blue wood-fired oven. Expect to see snacks and small bites including warm dates, marinated olives, a pissaladière, and wood-oven roasted fruit with crème fraîche.
From the Horses menu, only the salads can be enjoyed in the Garden: the insalata verde and the signature endive Caesar tossed with breadcrumbs and topped with shaved Mimolette. The menu here will also feature a “massive” version of Horses’ pork chop Milanese, says Aghajanian.
3. That’s pizzettes, not pizza.
The Garden’s pizzettes are more akin to flatbreads than to pizzas. “We don’t want the Napoletana pizza police telling us how we make pizza wrong,” jokes Johnson. There will be four to five variations, plus an off-menu option with vodka sauce and ‘nduja called “the Herman.” Those in the know will recognize the equivalence to Horses’ off-menu pasta of the same name. “It’s all the same ingredients minus the shells,” says Johnson (and plus pizzette dough).
4. The vibe is Provence-meets-Topanga Canyon.
The main inspiration for the Garden is Les Deux Cafe, the infamous early-aughts Hollywood hangout where French country fare was once served amidst herb bushes, olive trees, and a bona fide scene. For decor, Johnson and Aghajanian sourced French bistro chairs and mosaic tiled tables that evoke Topanga from OfferUp, so that “it doesn’t look like a designer designed it,” says Aghajanian. There is a zebra banquette, but otherwise, the Garden is more muted in color than Horses’ variously vibrant dining rooms.
A pink peppercorn tree stands in the middle of the space, while jasmine trees hang over the back side. Over time, ivy will grow around the trestle, which has built-in fans and heat lamps for hot days and cool nights.
5. Lunch will come later, as will croissants.
The Garden initially will be open for dinner from Wednesday through Sunday, but the plan is to eventually open on Tuesdays — Horses included — so that both restaurants will operate six days a week. They also intend to open the Garden for lunch. “We want this to have Cafe de Flore vibes,” Aghajanian says, referring to the famous coffeehouse in Paris’ Left Bank. “Where there’s coffee and croissants and you know, some spritzes during the day.”
Emily Wilson is a Los Angeles-based food writer from New York. She has contributed to Bon Appétit, Eater, TASTE, The Los Angeles Times, Punch, Atlas Obscura, and more. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Follow Resy, too