By MICHAEL AUSHENKER | Contributing Writer
It’s a recent Monday night. Our photographer, Rich Schmitt, and his lovely wife Courtney have invited me over to their cozy Westside abode to watch “Jurassic World” on Blu-ray.
I’m a bit curious to see this franchise reboot. None of us has seen the blockbuster, which until “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” came out late in the year, was 2015’s highest grossing film.
Plus: it’s co-written by a married pair of Palisadians—Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver—who wrote another franchise reboot that the Schmitts and I never miss an installment of: “Planet of the Apes.”
So what do we do for dinner? After all, the weather is crummy and after a long day of work, neither party is excited to drag the evening out too late by going out to dinner first. So what now?
Have the dinner brought over to us, of course.
That’s where Thyme Family Dinners from Thyme Café & Market comes in courtesy of the Santa Monica restaurant’s recently introduced twice-weekly delivery service.
Thyme’s owner, ambitious restaurateur/chef Maire Byrne, loves to roll the dice. Seven years ago she took over the old Talking Stick location and helped transform a dark, sleepy, sketchy stretch of Ocean Park Blvd. into what’s now gunning to become the new Montana Avenue.
Last October Byrne, whose resume includes Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Ajax Tavern in Aspen and Aqua in San Francisco, forwarded the boulevard’s evolution with the experiential gourmet Italian restaurant Local Kitchen & Wine Bar.
Now Byrne has upped the ante again, adding a compelling new feature to Thyme: twice-weekly gourmet dinner delivery right to your doorstep.
Available on Mondays and Wednesdays, Thyme’s delivery service launched on Jan. 11, just in time for the onset of El Niño that has been coming and going throughout January like a bad romance.
Each featured meal (one vegetarian and one meat/fish/poultry option and two side salads) can be accompanied by anything off of the Thyme Cafe Gourmet To Go Menu (thymecafeandmarket.com/gourmet-go).
The drop-off time is between 4 and 6 p.m. and the delivery fees go as follows: $5 within Santa Monica; $15 if delivered to Brentwood, Venice, Mar Vista and Pacific Palisades; and $20 for the Palisades Highlands and Westwood neighborhoods.
The restaurant requests that deliveries be ordered 24 to 48 hours in advance.
So what exactly did we order to accompany two hours worth of Velociraptor-on-Indominus Rex carnage?
Our Monday order consisted of a bounty of Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde plus large portions of Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Shallot Lemon Vinaigrette ($70); a small order of Macaroni & Cheese ($22); a quart of Tomato Fennel Soup ($11); and a quart of Beef Bourguignon ($35), which consistency-wise lies somewhere between a soup and a stew.
Wednesdays in January offer this alternative: Whole Roasted Chicken, Mediterranean Orzo with Roasted Vegetables, Feta, Basil, Parsley & Pine Nuts Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette for $56; or Eggplant Parmesan Haricot Vert with Hazelnuts & Orange Zest and Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Shallot Lemon Vinaigrette for $58.
All meals, designed to satisfy a family of four, come pre-cooked with reheating instructions. Indeed, the meals are easy and speedy to prep, be it by microwave or conventional oven.
Let’s go straight to the highlights. Of the two starters, we enjoyed the Beef Bourguignon the most…by a French Provence mile!
If you enjoy a good tomato soup, Thyme’s Tomato Fennel Soup is adequate with generous portions (and might benefit from the addition of a few more ingredients such as oregano and Parmesan).
Beef Bourguignon, on the other hand, tasted so beyond what a home-delivered gourmet beef stew deserves to taste like.
The broth is delicious and subtle with hearty, hefty pieces of braised beef—bearing a consistency of pulled pork —smoky, flavorful and outstanding! This stewy delight may have very well been the highlight of our meal.
Also savory and satisfying: Macaroni & Cheese, an above-average gourmet version of the all-American comfort food that made for the perfect side order to our home-delivered meal.
Portions, once again, are generous: even dividing this side in three proved very filling.
While kale may be the overrated hipster vegetable du jour these days, Thyme’s Kale & Brussels Sprouts Salad is an original spin on the now ubiquitous kale salad that may very well be single-handedly sending iceberg and Romaine lettuce into semi-retirement.
Thyme’s house-made vinaigrette certainly adds a nice layer of flavor to this healthy affair but it’s not even necessary as even sans dressing, this salad is lively and feisty.
Ironically, our meal’s main event—Chicken Enchiladas (seven in total), with a fresh and zingy green sauce doused all over them with heaps of shredded cheddar, may have been upstaged by all of the aforementioned sides.
The enchiladas are certainly yummy and well executed. However, most of the meal’s other components tasted so superior that our affection for the enchiladas may have been lost in the shuffle.
Next time, we may adjust our order and make it two quarts of Beef Bourguignon—which is certainly enough to feed the three of us.
Moreover, it only makes us curious about that Whole Roasted Chicken meal that Thyme delivers on Wednesdays as well as the new menu items that will be created for February.
So… anybody know when “The Force Awakens” arrives on home video?
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