I was planning it all along – brunch with my friend Ashley on Sunday. Specifically brunch at the re-opened Coral Tree Cafe in Brentwood. Specifically so I could order one of the casual open-air restaurant’s egg panini that I’d been lusting after ever since reading about them on the Delicious Life earlier in the week.
I was planning it all. The time. The place. My order. Even our topic of conversation – how good the egg panino tastes, and “why aren’t there more egg panini in the world?”
Ashley just didn’t know it yet.
I casually slipped her an e-mail on Saturday night with the poetic subject line, “Yo!”
“You are back in LA tomorrow right? Maybe we can grab lunch after I'm out of church?” I wrote, knowing fully well that my friend wouldn’t have any food in her apartment after being out of town for two weeks.
I also knew she’d be hungry. Because she, like me, is always hungry.
Even when Ashley subsequently accepted my invitation, she still had no idea that I was scheming for an egg panino at Coral Tree. And even the next day when we spoke about a meeting place, I made an effort to provide another option lest I seem controlling and inflexible.
“We could do Coral Tree Cafe… or there’s that new place La Provence Patisserie in Brentwood. I’m not sure where it is exactly…” I said, letting my voice drift off like a breezy, go-with-the-flow type person. “Whatever you want is fine with me.”
“They are both right by each other so we can decide when we meet up,” Ashley responded with equal indifference. Except, of course, that her indifference was sincere, and mine was staged right down to the conversational pauses.
It probably would have been okay to drop the charade there. To not insist that “I don’t care where we go, you choose,” when we finally met up at the corner of San Vicente and Barrington Ave. at 1 pm.
But I was too far into character by that point. I wanted to be that breezy girl who is fine eating anything from In-N-Out burgers to lettuce salads to chicken burritos. I wanted to be the person who can be happy as long as there aren’t bugs crawling across her plate (paper, plastic or china). And I wanted to prove that I can be flexible, even though I’m not very flexible at all.
I held my breath while Ashley contemplated our choices, my eyes digging into her skull as I attempted to telepathically convey the message that Coral Tree was the perfect location to catch up.
She shrugged her shoulders, again with the indifference I so long to possess, and said, “Let’s do Coral Tree Cafe because I know they have a patio and I want to sit outside.”
I smiled. Victory.
“Okay, sounds good to me,” I shrugged back – attempting to mirror her casual demeanor.
So it came to pass, as it had in my head four days prior. Ashley and I had brunch at Coral Tree Cafe. I ordered the Rustica egg panino with spinach, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and havarti cheese ($10.75). And I silently basked in triumph as I tore my teeth through the pliant bread, tender eggs and generous spread of fresh vegetables.
It was perfection.
Of course, I really don’t care if we ever go back again “Whatever” is fine with me.
Coral Tree Cafe
11645 San Vincente Blvd.
Brentwood, CA 90049
Phone: (310) 979-TREE