The Garden Kitchen, Occoquan, VA

After an absolutely brutal, three hour long trial of physical exertion, I detoured from Woodbridge into scenic Occoquan for an almost desperate bite to eat. I was starving, and needed calories, sustenance.

My criteria were simple: I needed something for carryout, something rather quick, without a lot of fuss, but not fast food. I stumbled across The Garden Kitchen which looked like it would fit the bill from the street (as so often happens, parking dictated my destination).

The Garden Kitchen is owned by Marie-Claire Kundu, and has been in the same location since 1974. I walked through a beautiful brick patio (with a trickling fountain) to get into the restaurant, where you order at the counter.

Certain things, the homemade breads and desserts for example, looked pretty tempting. They had a handwritten Special Combo Lunch ($8.95) which consisted of a chicken salad sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and bacon (this was the kicker), on a homemade white roll, chips, the choice of soup or pie, and a Diet Pepsi.

I got it to go, and was ravenous – I could barely wait to get back onto Route 123 North before I started tearing into it. And tear into it I did: at one point, I looked down to see if I accidentally ate one of the little salt or pepper packets, and became worried once I didn’t see them (it turns out I didn’t eat them). The entire sandwich and chips were gone within several miles of driving. It was only an above-average chicken salad sandwich, but I was so hungry that I enjoyed it immensely.

The coconut cream pie I got was special. Homemade (or at least locally made) and delicious, I thought back to the patio and how nice it would be to have a leisurely lunch there, but I really enjoyed eating – the act of eating – as much with this simple carryout lunch as anything I’d eaten in a long time, due to primal hunger.

The Garden Kitchen isn’t something you’ll see written about (at least, I don’t think it is), but it more than fit the bill on this occasion. You can do a lot worse in Occoquan, and I’m glad I had lunch there.

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