The days are getting longer once again, but not long enough for some New Yorkers who can’t wait to dine al fresco at one of the city’s many outdoor cafes. Luckily, a number of restaurants exist that blur the lines between seasons by boasting indoor gardens or, failing that, garden views. Here are a few that are worthy of note.
Cathédrale. Ask most foodies to describe the interiors of this restaurant, and they will mention the dramatic 26-foot, triple-height ceiling in the main dining room, which is its most conspicuous design feature. But part of the space at Cathédrale is given over to an outdoor dining terrace with a sloped retractable roof hung in vines and pots of greenery. To help you get an early start celebrating spring are such menu options as a hen of the woods brochette, with mâche salad and a basil pistou, and autumn squash with honeynut, delicata, and grains, moistened by a pomegranate vinaigrette. Cathédrale, 112 East 11th Street, 212-888-1093.
Juliette. This classic Williamsburg bistro is perhaps best known for offering brunch seven days a week, but its sky-lit garden room capped by leafy greenery and trailing vines is where you’ll want to dine if you crave the best of two seasonal worlds. Menu highlights worth noting are a salade Lyonnaise with frisée, lardons, and a poached egg that runs slowly over all when poked with your fork, and a by-the-book crispy roasted half chicken with pomme purée, glazed baby carrots, pearl onions, and a tarragon chicken jus. Juliette may be the last living New York restaurant to offer up a cheese soufflé among the starters. Juliette, 135 North 5th Street, Brooklyn, 718-388-9222.
Hortus NYC. During the colder months, the restaurant (reviewed here) lives up to its name (hortus is Latin for “garden”) by adorning the glass-ceilinged space on its second floor with fresh bouquets, live plants, and heaters. The kitchen does its part to foster the illusion of summer with the likes of a papaya salad adorned with shrimp, persimmon, and a lemongrass dressing. Hortus NYC, 271 Fifth Avenue (bet. 29th and 30th Sts.), 646-858-3784, is open for Monday through Saturday for lunch, and seven days for dinner.
Old Tbilisi Garden. If you try hard enough, the waterfall and greenery visible through a floor-to-ceiling picture window may help you conjure up thoughts of warm weather. The rib-sticking food, meanwhile, creates a different kind of warmth. This is New York’s lone Georgian (the country, not the state) restaurant, and the menu is largely a compilation of the kinds of dishes you crave when the cold winds blow. There is Ukrainian borscht, served hot, thick with cabbage and potatoes, and lobiani: a pizza of sorts spread with mashed beans. Parts of Georgia are subtropical, explaining the presence on the menu of mtsvadi, which you probably know better as kebabs. Old Tbilisi Garden, 174 Bleecker Street, 212-470-6064.
Bottino. Artfully conceived, well-crafted Italian food is reason enough to stop by Bottino in way-west Chelsea, though if gazing at greenery is paramount, you’ll want to reserve one of the tables flanking the glass wall at the rear, which provides a glimpse of the restaurant’s handsome garden. Pasta is one of the kitchen’s strengths, as evidenced by a dish of squid-ink spaghetti and bay scallops glistening with saffron butter sampled during a visit. Bottino, 246 Tenth Avenue (bet 24th and 25th Sts.), 212-206-6766.