One of the last stops in the Lonely Planet Seoul’s “Northern Section” for restaurants, at least from an international variety. We have had our eye on Slow Garden for quite some time, especially since we have been exploring the Hyehwa and Hansung University areas more frequently. The Slow Garden experience: overpriced and stagnant. Also, there appeared to be some renovations taking place. If the screams of drills does not sooth your soul, you might be best advised to visit elsewhere.
LP’s Description: The guidebook mentions the chandeliers which are plentiful and also the stained-glass windows which are absent. It makes mention of the brunch, sandwiches and wine that is served.
How to get to there: The easiest way to get there is to take the subway to Hansung University station (Line 4) and depart from Exit 6. From there you will have to take the 1111 or 2112 bus. After the fifth stop, get off the bus, turn right and start to head down the hill. Slow garden will be on your right about 300 meters down the street.
Service and Atmosphere: I had to do a double take because Slow Garden from the outside looks like an abandon warehouse. Not surprisingly, the interior is a mix of your grandmother’s 1970s living room complete with giant chandelier. A few sporadically placed plants and old wooden cabinets accentuates the creepy old aunt atmosphere and does little to make your experience comforting. The random screaming of drills during brunch extenuates some of these interior flaws, but still makes for an undesirable atmosphere. Slow Garden is a self serve establishment. The servers at the counter seemed okay; not overly friendly, but not cold either and brunch was served in a timely manner.
Food and Drink: Today we ordered the Waffle Brunch and the Rib Eye Brunch with a glass of Orange Juice and an Iced Tea.
Rib Eye Brunch (17,500KRW): It was early in the afternoon, but not too early to order a steak. The rib eye was very bland with little to no seasoning. It was cooked medium rare, which is fine, but it would have been nice if they asked me. Also, one of the small irritants of the dish was that put two soggy pieces of French Toast on my salad. It mixed with the oil and vinegar dressing and was less than appetizing. Fuck sakes, what an embarrassment. This dish is a classic example of trying to do too much. Just keep it simple. Steak, eggs, toast, a small salad and some hash browns. That’s it. The store-bought orange juice was what you would expect it to be.
French Toast Brunch (11,500KRW): Jill ordered the French Toast Brunch. It came with a sausage, which really turned out to be a carved up hot dog wiener. There was no bacon to be found and of course they put the French Toast on the fucking salad again. The eggs were crying tears of yoke. Seriously, look at that fucking egg and tell me it’s not the most uninspiring breakfast egg you have ever seen. Blah. The iced tea was Koreanized, which is to be expected, but they tried too hard to Americanize it by saturating it with sugar.
Value: The total bill was exactly 30,000KRW. I wish that I had a more artistic way of describing Slow Garden, but much like their interior, it was just outdated and mediocre. I really can’t recommend Slow Garden with Wood and Brick right up the street (Another average brunch spot, but nicer atmosphere). However, if you really want a good brunch, get up early and head to The Honey Bowl in Hongdae. It’s a far ride, but it’s worth it if you are really craving a good brunch. The Lonely Planet really swung and miss on these Hyehwa brunch spots, but in their defense, Seoul is flipping restaurants so quickly to keep up with the the newest fad, who knows what type of place it once was.
Who should visit Slow Garden: Like the idea of French Toast dipped in oil and vinegar dressing? Give this place a shot!
Who should avoid Slow Garden: Want a decent brunch? Get ready for the long subway ride to Hongdae.