While it does fall a little short of the grand scrumptiousness that Huckleberry captures with aplomb, Thyme Cafe is a worthy lunch spot. The cafe/bakery/market concept isn’t exactly unexplored ground in Santa Monica, but caterer-turned-restauranteur Maire Byrne offers her own brand of formidable sandwiches, salads, sweets, soups and gourmet goods.
I crave sandwiches on an hourly basis, and I was pretty satisfied by the options at Thyme. The selection is seasonal and heavy on comfort: Turkey Meatloaf, Egg Salad with Olive Tapenade, Albacore Tuna with Currants, and this Steak with Watercress & Caramelized Onions. The crusty baguette was a little sharp and stabby, but the steak was tender. The horseradish aioli, which was thankfully glopped on with abandon, gave it personality.
This pressed Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich was on special. Though breaded, the chicken managed stay moist and light while the airiness of the bread also kept things from getting too weighty. Interestingly enough, the side salad dressed with a tangy lemon vinaigrette, was a high point of the plate–now that’s something.
The deli case was packed with the kind of salads and baked casseroles that trigger whatever it is in my brain that commands me to pick at food. I really just wanted to dip a spoon into the lasagna or those lusciously orange whipped yams to get a small taste. Is that weird?
The baked goods. Well, to go back to the Huckleberry comparison, Thyme’s cake and pastry spread doesn’t inspire the same yearning desire. Sure, it’s filled with beautiful cakes, cupcakes and pastries, but it’s not as mind boggling as Huckleberry manages to be. That said, the Key Lime Pie was spot on and tart as heck with a thick layer of whipped cream that made it hard to put down the fork. The Red Velvet Cake (pictured at the top) was better than most, avoiding the overly-rich, sugar-shock quality that makes most red velvet so one note.
Thyme also serves breakfast, sunday brunch and dinner. Plus, they have a great little market section with pre-made soups, fresh pasta, fancy sodas, pickles, jams, oils and dips. I love dip, so this excites me.
1630 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, 90405