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GREENERY: The portobello sandwich and side salad from the 17th Street Cafe & Bakery. (photo by Michael Ryan)

With the weather being as unseasonably pleasant as it has been, I have found myself riding my bike solely to bask in this glorious warmth. A stop into the 17th Street Cafe & Bakery was for no reason other than the fact that I was hungry, and I was on the corner of 17th Street and Montana Avenue.

Arriving at 4:30 p.m., well after a late lunch but certainly before an early dinner, the dining room was empty with the exception of one woman in the corner on her cell phone. Unavoidably overhearing her conversation how she was supposed to meet at the restaurant across the street as she made her way to the exit, I was now the last one left. While dining in complete solitude can be awkward, or sometimes depressing, it is an experience with some legitimate merits as well.

It being the cafe’s slow time, there was not a sole server on staff. The hostess was nice enough to seat me, provide a menu, and chat it up about how dead it was inside. When I threw her a curveball like, “Do you have any specials for the day?,” she went scrambling to the back of the house to figure things out.

Navy bean soup was the deal of the day, but with the weather being what is was, the marinated portobello sandwich and side salad would suffice. Service is snappy, and fast when you are not competing with other tables for attention. Despite having no silverware, nobody seemed to mind me reaching over for the neighboring table’s set.

The order came to in priority fashion, and the plating presented a mound of colors and greenery. Apparently, the 17th Street Cafe draws a big lunch crowd being best known for serving up a variety of salads.

The dinner menu was a bit more eclectic. With a range of steaks and fishes, to a list of pizzas and pastas, it is hard to gauge the overall theme of the restaurant based off their offerings.

My portobello sandwich was very good but its marinated succulence made for a very messy hands-on experience. Once again, nobody seemed to mind my display. The sandwich was good enough to assume that some of their other dishes would be on par as well.

Patting myself on the back, a random stop at the 17th Street Cafe presented a solitaire yet worthy meal. I will be sure to stop in again, preferably with friends during a more lively eating hour.

Scouring the Internet, word of mouth, and of course printed articles are all viable ways to find good dining options around town. However, sometimes it is as simple as getting out there, hitting the pavement, and letting serendipity run its course. Living in Santa Monica, more times than not, you’re going to find something worth while.

If you go

17th Street Cafe & Bakery

1610 Montana Ave.

Santa Monica, Calif.

90403

(310) 453-2771

www.seventeenthstreetcafe.com/

Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike burning calories so he can eat more food, or on CityTV hosting his own show, “Tour de Feast.” To reach him visit his website at tourdefeast.net or follow him on Twitter @TourDeFeastSM.

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