Review: Gardner's Market
I’m not quite sure how I had not discovered Gardner’s Market earlier. I’ve been at Lee for over a year now. It’s a short walk from the Communications Arts Building, which I frequent. But it wasn’t until Dr. Conn gave his Psychology class (that I’m blessed to be in) coupons to Gardner’s that I finally heard about it.
Immediately, I made plans to go there one day with a friend so that I could share the wealth of the coupon. And I was not disappointed when I went.
When I walked in, it was like walking back in time. It’s like deli meets tearoom meets speciality convenience store.
I scoured the menu, which was filled with a great variety of sandwiches ranging from hot and cold, breakfast, veggie, tuna, turkey, chicken, BBQ, etc. They offer just about every kind of sandwich ever created.
My friend and I shared the tuna and the Broadstreet (sliced pork with superfood slaw and BBQ) and one of many muffins they have to offer. All of it was incredible. I’ve had a lot of tuna in my day and this was by far the best and freshest tuna sandwich I’ve ever had. The Broadstreet is a unique take on the BBQ sandwich—perfect mix of sweet and spicy.
I’ve tried at least three different veggie sandwiches that they have to offer, and all were extremely fresh and flavorful. My favorite is the California Veggie; it includes sprouts and avocado, two of my absolute favorite toppings. They offer many vegetarian-friendly options. They even offer a spicy black bean burger!
There are numerous bread options to choose from, including croissant, pita and wheat bread, as well as a gluten-free choice. Or you could skip the bread and choose the lettuce-wrap option. That’s simply amazing!
All of the sandwiches are great quantity for the quality and money. Although I order my own sandwich nearly every time I go, I usually feel like I could have shared my sandwich with someone by the time I’ve touched the second half.
To complement and to wash down the meal, they offer a great variety of fantastic non-alcoholic beverages, ranging from sodas, coffees, unique bottled beverages (i.e., the aromatic Rose Lemonade), and my personal favorite, tea. They offer many drink options that should make many teetotallers and non-teetotallers alike very happy.
Since moving to Cleveland, I’ve been on the search for a good place for tea, particularly a tearoom. I have found that place in Gardner’s Market—they offer the largest tea menu that I have ever seen. Although I love it, I struggle to decide which of the many choices of teas to have that day.
I can remember the first time I ordered tea there. I studied the menu before finally deciding on chai. I ordered it and the cashier asked me, “Which one?” I was dumbfounded: “What do you mean? How many chai teas do you have?” He replied, “Four or five, I think.” I looked again—he was right. I asked him for a recommendation. He told me that his favorite is something that sounded like “Corduroy” Chai. I agreed to it because it sounded like a warm sweater. And it was everything I could have dreamed of and more. It was fragrant, hot, and mildly spicy.
Their vast tea menu consists of a variety of black, green, chai, and herbal teas. It includes classics such as Earl Grey, chamomile and green, but also different and special flavors such as Moroccan mint, Prince Vladimir, Chinese Breakfast, and seasonal favorite pumpkin spice. Gardner’s gives you a complimentary crumb cake with your tea—your choice of cinnamon or cream cheese. If you have a big sweet tooth, you can add an order of a muffin. They have a large variety of muffins that are large enough to share, and they seem to have a different selection every day. So far, my favorite muffin has been the mocha—it’s like a rich, extremely chocolatey coffee cake!
As a tea lover, I appreciate that they serve their hot tea in a teapot with a cup and saucer—because, as the British would say, what the tea is served in does affect the taste. And the complimentary crumb cake doesn’t hurt, either.
For those who take tea time seriously, from Monday to Thursday, 2-3pm, Gardner’s offers an order of tea with crumb cake and a cucumber (or cheese) sandwich for $5.
Gardner’s Market has been in business for over twenty years. It’s a Cleveland staple. A couple years ago, the restaurant came under new ownership. One of the owners, Jimmy Holsomback, had been friends with the original owners and always appreciated the ambiance of stepping back into a simpler time. The owners today assure faithful customers that there have been few changes to the restaurant. Only the quality of ingredients, particularly the meat, has been improved, and new additions have been added to the menu, but all the old favorites remain. The emphasis is on quality food with an environment that allows you to time-travel back to the ‘30s or ‘40s.
Many customers say they come for the environment. It’s often described as feeling like a little European café. It can be thought of as a sanctuary of sorts, a place outside time with no need to feel rushed. One customer, a Lee University student, said that it was her first time going to Gardner’s Market and described the restaurant as cute. “I love how it gives an old era vibe and that we each got our own teapots and teacups with a small dessert,” she said. “It was the closest thing I had to ‘tea time’ with my girls.”
The atmosphere is cozy and warm with traditional music and “The Three Stooges” playing silently on the television in the background. The tables contain an assortment of quirky knickknacks: puzzle pieces; pictures of classic entertainment icons like Audrey Hepburn, Elvis and The Beatles; and retro movie posters like “Singin' In The Rain” and “The Thin Man.” The walls are lined with many convenience store products but also novelty items, European imports, scone mix, teas, candy and cards. One day, I found and bought guava-flavored candy!
When looking up the restaurant online, I discovered that they market themselves as “an old world style delicatessen and specialty grocery store” with the tagline, “step back in time to an old world deli.” I think they successfully achieve this. Gardner’s Market offers a unique atmosphere with a brilliant selection of drinks, sandwiches and sweets. The location is convenient, easily walkable for the Lee student, and prices are fair for the quantity and quality of the food. Furthermore, your food is brought to your table quickly, and the servers stay on top of things, clearing the table in front of you—and your cup will never go empty. And as a perfect complement to the atmosphere, a couple of the servers have a brilliantly dry sense of humor to coincide with your cup of British tea.
The average price for a sandwich ranges from $3.29 to $9, but hot dogs can be as low as $2.49. Sides and desserts are usually $1 to $2. Depending on what you get, a drink can be as high as $2.49, but refills are usually served.
Gardner’s Market is located 262 Broad St NW, Cleveland, TN 37311, open Monday-Thursday 7 AM to 6 PM, Friday 7 AM to 4 PM, Saturday 9 AM to 4 PM, and closed on Sundays.