Sage Kitchen (located inside Anderson’s Garden Center) is one of those places that you may discover because you’re on a mission to buy some plants during your lunch break and realize that your local garden center also houses a delightful restaurant. And then you’ll return for their pleasing plates, happening to remember that your new favorite lunch spot also houses a delightful garden center.
Anderson’s has been a staple for plants in Coastal Virginia since 1954. From there, the business of growing has become quite the growing business. This third-generation, family-owned business added a retail store to their Newport News location in 1977, acquired more land for a bigger, better café in 2005 and in June opened a second location in Virginia Beach’s Red Mill (where we visited for lunch).
So, what’s the benefit of having a restaurant at a garden center? It means ingredients coming straight from the greenhouse to the kitchen, and it means an excellent choice for a lunch meeting spot if you want a place with exceptional variety in a refreshing atmosphere.
After passing through the retail space (perfect for picking up a gift on your lunch break), you’ll step into an open and airy atmosphere with charming accents, like their herb-filled window boxes and distinctive lighting. Continue to their covered outdoor dining space and open patio seating, where you’ll find a cascading water fountain and fire pits, should you want to return after work to cozy up with a cocktail.
My colleague and I were promptly seated at a table, and we began by skimming the beverage list. Along with an assortment of fresh-pressed juices (think intriguing combinations like cucumber, agave, apple and watermelon) they offer exciting specialty concoctions: Moscow Mimosas, Basil Bellinis or the Pungo Sunrise, to name a few. They carry local beers as well. I settled on a crisp and clean, dry rosé.
Their food menu consists of handcrafted sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads (and a pick two option for making combinations), a few appetizers, some scrumptious-sounding small plates and their signature hunted-gathered bowls.
My colleague tried their Miami wrap, a flour tortilla filled with grilled tuna, a spring mix, black bean salad, fried onions and po boy sauce, which was accompanied by a pasta salad with a Mediterranean flair.
Meanwhile, the Coconut Curry bowl was calling my name. A colorful mix of sweet potatoes, cauliflower, rainbow chard, blistered grape tomatoes, green coconut curry and cucumber-mint-cilantro salad with green onion filled the base of the bowl, and to accompany, I ordered a grilled salmon steak that was tender, juicy and charred just enough. Sitting atop was a perfect sage leaf, paying tribute to one of my new favorite lunch spots and garden centers.
By Angela Blue