Garden Terrace Café

Best Museum Cafe, September 2006

More than most restaurants, a museum café is never just about the food. It should be an extension of the aesthetic experience, like entering another gallery wing, a melding of space, light, sound, and design. A decent nosh, of course, doesn’t hurt. Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group has helped improve the quality of L.A. museum cuisine, bringing his empire to MOCA, LACMA, and others. What he doesn’t have is a setting as magnificent as the Getty Center, with its sweeping views and labyrinthine gardens. At its Garden Terrace Café, cool breezes swirl through pillars of Italian stone. The cafeteria-style menu is highlighted by a baby arugula salad with seared ahi, caper berries, and potatoes in aioli. Chardonnay comes in a corked bottle, though it is sipped from a plastic cup.