There’s yet another Starbucks going up in this city, now it’s replacing the Kentucky Fried Chicken at 28th and Pico across from the 99 Cent Store. I have no accurate count of how many Starbucks Coffee shops we have in the city, but I think it’s about 31. I have mixed feelings about the loss of the KFC, it was an annual indulgence for me, so horribly delicious, and dangerous to eat. But truly, it’s probably better for all of us that the Double Down (two fried chicken patties and cheese) is not available here. I never had the guts, or the metabolism, to try it, but it was always there as possibility of caloric catastrophe to seduce me towards those biscuits, the mashed potatoes and gravy, and with the slightest nod to salad, a mayonnaise explosion euphemistically called coleslaw.
Do we need another Starbucks? I guess so. They’re good for real estate values I’ve been told, along with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. As a harbinger of good fortune and future growth they seem to be as accurate as the Swallows who return to San Juan Capistrano each year. The far end of the city is due for some upgrading and it’s nice to see the beginnings of a revival.
It’s easy to forget that there’s more to Santa Monica than just the downtown area with its Promenade, Ferris Wheel and Pier. The city has distinct neighborhoods and as easy as it is for me to forget that and ignore them, I don’t think it’s wise to do so. With that in mind, and in the interest of adventuring, I made a point of having breakfast somewhere I’d never been before last week, on a street that I don’t often visit these days – Ocean Park east of Lincoln.
Normally I visit this part of the city every 6-8 months when I drop off my shoes to have the sole protectors redone at Maya Shoe Repair. I’ve been having my shoes repaired here for the past 20 years and as it is the biggest draw for me, it’s not something you have to do often. As a young boy I recall taking the Big Blue Bus down Ocean Park to the beach, and I’d occasionally stop in at Bob’s Market to grab something to eat on the way home.
Curiously this patch of Ocean Park hasn’t changed that much. The storefronts still have an old school neighborhood feel to them, all pre-corporate monolith. Which is why when I was looking for a breakfast joint, Thyme stood out.
This restaurant has a neighborhood feel to it, but it’s in the wrong neighborhood. The white interior and shabby chicness of it all feels very Cape Cod to me. It’s like a non-corporate Joan’s on Third. There’s a selection of gourmet goods and jams, lots of frozen pre-made entrees and ready to eat soups in the refrigerator for the grab and go crowd. The pastry case is the first thing you have to navigate before ordering, a wise choice on their part, as I was almost waylaid into a carbohydrate orgy of cakes and delicacies that are definitely not on the diet.
I forged on to a menu of “real food” – the stuff that your mother wants you to eat. The menu was wide and charming, with some great selections for breakfast and lunch. I chose a healthy omelet of goat cheese, avocado and potatoes. The omelet was delightful, and Thyme does something I wish more places would, they have chilled water bottles that you take to your table that are actual glass, with glasses that are chilled.
Assuming all the food at Thyme is as delightful as the omelet I had, and the pastries look, this place is a great family stop for healthy food, that is high quality. All in all I found it to be a nice enhancement to the community, and I’m sure I’ll get over my initial discomfort at its design not fitting my ideal of what a restaurant should be in our little city by the bay. I’ll be back there to try other great choices. It’s clear there’s a revival going on beyond Ocean Avenue, and Thyme is just one of the many great indicators of it.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.