I know I’m going to regret it.
I know it, but I don’t care.
I feel like a salad. I’m craving the crunch of raw vegetables, the tang of a nutritionally suspect dressing, and the satisfying punch from its similarly nutritionally suspect companions, cheese, candied nuts or fried wonton chips.
It’s a bad idea. I already know from past experience what’s going to happen. I’m going to be hungry in two hours. My head will ache from lack of carbohydrates. I’ll want to murder my co-workers, and my productivity for the rest of the afternoon will be shot as I lustfully stare at pictures of cupcakes and bacon and seven layer cakes on TasteSpotting.
Even with this knowledge, when the helpful counter girl at Thyme Cafe and Market on Ocean Park Blvd. in Santa Monica asks me what I’d like, I can’t form the words to order the Albacore Tuna Sandwich with currants, celery, onions, and lemon mayonnaise on multi-grain bread ($9.50).
“I’ll have the Chinese Chicken Salad ($9.50),” I say instead, already feeling the first pangs of remorse.
The remorse is further heightened when I receive the salad. While the plate is overflowing with unwieldy pieces of green lettuce, the rest of the contents are rather sparse. There’s not much crunch to be had from the paltry amount of julienned red and yellow peppers or the sugar snap peas that have been sliced so thin I can’t even detect their presence. I appreciate the poached pieces of chicken breast and the sweet sesame vinaigrette, but this is a salad that I could easily make better at home.
I bitterly chomp through my lettuce lunch thinking about all the other more satisfying things I could have ordered instead. I could have had the Grilled Vegetable & Goat Cheese sandwich with pesto ($9.50). Or the Egg Salad sandwich with aioli and olive tapenade on pain de mie ($9.) Or one of those deli salad trio combination plates with that quinoa salad I had eyed in the counter.
“Why didn’t I do that?” I wonder. “I’m the Quinoa Queen!”
I’m still hungry when I finish the last few pieces of wontons and slivered almonds on my plate. At first, the solution seems clear – dessert. I’ll get a slice of the carrot cake ($5.50), or one of the chocolate chip cookies ($1.25) that are always freshly baked, or maybe one of the white chocolate rose petit fours that Thyme carries from Valerie Confections.
But when I get to the counter, another, more masculine voice takes over. It’s the voice of reason. The voice I didn’t listen to when I had stupidly ordered the salad twenty minutes prior so I could kid myself into thinking I’d had a “healthy lunch.”
“I’ll have a bowl of the tomato and fennel soup,” I find myself saying, as though on auto pilot.
While my co-worker/dining companion eliminates the evidence of a chocolate bread pudding ($5.50), I happily devour my dessert – a hearty bowl of soup. The fennel’s presence is slightly overwhelming on the palate, but the chunky tomato broth is pleasantly aromatic and flavorful. It does the trick. I feel blissfully satiated when I finish the last spoonful.
So satisfied, in fact, that I don’t even feel tempted to hit up the counter a third time for the petit four I’d been coveting.
I’ll save that gem for the next time I decide to snub my brown bag turkey sandwich.
To order a sandwich.
Thyme Cafe and Market
1630 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA