Campus Garden (CLOSED)

Editor’s note: As of November 2011, Campus Garden has closed for business, and the location is now the site of a second O’Betty’s Red Hot restaurant.
30 West Union St.
Athens, OH 45701
740.594.5858
website

While most Chinese places in uptown Athens are focused primarily on price and convenience, Campus Garden is unique among them in that it is aiming for a little nicer environment. Designed as a sit-down and order traditional restaurant, Campus Garden attracts people who are taking their meal a little more slowly. It makes for a pleasant experience. Located at the intersection of Congress, Richland and Union, it’s a prime location for a good food place.

Kung Pao Beef w/ fried rice: $8.95

The food at Campus Garden is slightly more pricey than other restaurants, particularly at dinner. At the same time, the flavor makes all the difference. The Kung Pao Beef was grilled to perfection; the meat was absolutely as tender as it gets while still delicious. With ample vegetables in a sauce that is both sweet and spicy, this dish is a very strong contender, especially given that other Chinese food placed I’ve visited around Athens seem to specialize in pork and chicken as their beef offerings play second fiddle. I highly recommend it.

The fried rice was also very good. It isn’t as deeply fried as rice often is; lacking the golden color but being none the worse in terms of flavor. It’s also probably a tad healthier. My only complaint here is that there was an unusually small amount served. While other places are pretty good with giving you just enough rice to compliment the size of your entrée, I ran out of rice after eating only half my food. It threw off my equilibrium.

Campus Garden does spicy dishes well. They’re only slightly hot and so your mouth is not burning. Spicy food lovers may find themselves wanting more, but the majority of people who only like a little pepper with their food will be pleasantly surprised. There is just enough heat to accentuate the dishes but not too much to make them uncomfortable.

Service was good, but could have been better. I actually visited the restaurant later in the evening before a late shift at work. As the only customer eating at the time with four employees working, I would have expected them to be on top of things. It was a wait to get my bill and they refilled my water only once; an uncomfortable experience when eating a spicy dish.

In short, Campus Garden has great food. It’s definitely worth stopping in, especially when you’re looking for the more traditional eating experience. If only they polished a few things, the place could easily be one of Athens’ best restaurants.

Recommendations

  • Beef dishes are strong here. Unlike most Chinese food places in Athens this is one you’ll want to try them.
  • Spicy dishes are good. Not too hot to enjoy they nonetheless add a flare to the flavor.
  • Come for lunch when the food is cheapest. The friendly little environment of Campus Garden is conducive to a more relaxed meal and you’ll enjoy feeling like it’s a little nicer than elsewhere.

Campus Garden on Urbanspoon

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