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Gertrude's: A Blemished Culinary Encounter

Located in Arizona’s Desert Botanical Garden, Gertrude's has garnered a reputation for embracing seasonal flavors and showcasing the vibrant local ingredients sourced from artisans and farmers throughout Arizona and the Southwest. The culinary team prides itself on crafting dishes from scratch, employing techniques like fermenting, curing, and smoking to eliminate preservatives. Gertude’s aims to create an immersive experience through its cuisine, libations, and the ambiance of its garden setting. Nevertheless, it is with a mixture of reluctance and honesty that we must relay our account of this restaurant.

As seasoned food adventurers, our usual approach to restaurant visits involves exploring a multitude of dishes, allowing us to present a comprehensive evaluation ranging from culinary triumphs to the occasional cautionary tale. We strive to sample nearly everything on the menu, except for the basics that don't require much fanfare (yes, we’re looking at you, side salads). However, despite Gertrude's aspirations for an immersive ambiance, our experience took an unexpected turn with the restaurant transforming into an unintentional fly sanctuary. It was an enigma to behold, especially considering our indoor seating arrangement. We found ourselves engaged in an impromptu dance of dodge and swat, diverting our attention from the very essence of our mission: savoring each and every bite.

Our first venture into the menu led us to the Lentil Chop Bowl, which, unfortunately, missed the mark. With a dismal score of 0 out of 10, this dish was a cacophony of missteps. The lentils arrived cold, lacking warmth and any sort of desirable texture. The accompanying sweet potatoes were mysteriously absent. The salad seemed haphazardly thrown together, drenched in an unpleasant orange-sumac vinaigrette that defied logical pairing. Amidst the chaos, the fried garbanzo beans provided a fleeting moment of redemption, though they failed to harmonize with the dish. Even the grape tomatoes, unceremoniously halved, exposed their insipid nature in all of their unpalatable glory.

Our second selection featured fried cauliflower and shishito peppers. While this dish fared better than its predecessor, it still garnered a lukewarm response. The fried cauliflower boasted a golden hue and the accompanying agave sambal sauce added a nuanced sweetness. The pickled onions contributed a touch of acidity, offering some complexity. However, despite these valiant efforts, the dish failed to ascend to the realm of high praise.

Our expedition culminated with a dessert featuring sorbet and apple crisp. The apple crisp represented a deconstructed interpretation of the classic apple pie with mixed success. While it held some merit, its unremarkable nature hindered it from attaining any sense of distinction. However, the sorbet emerged as the highlight, exuding delightful flavors that, unfortunately, became overshadowed by the unadventurous composition of the apple crisp.

The most dreadful aspect of the experience was not the food itself, but the relentless swarm of flies that seemed intent on joining us at the table. One fly can be annoying, but a group of them is a disruptive force that can quickly ruin one's appetite. We're all for immersive experiences, but having flies as your dining companions takes it to a whole new level.

While some may argue that dining with unexpected guests with a penchant for buzzing adds an avant garde element of surprise, we prefer our surprises to be confined to the realm of taste and presentation. So, here's our candid recommendation: when it comes to Gertude’s, it's best to seek refuge in other culinary sanctuaries where the only buzzing you'll hear is the sound of satisfied diners praising their delectable meals.


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