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February 12, 2002

Thyme Square Cafe: A Study In Green Contrapositions

Abstract: A day of opposites, but all in all a good experience -- good food, splendid company and a rainy day.

Players: Susan, Morgane, Bobby and Yours Truly made up the quartet this time around. The staff didn't play much of a role, except as a possible somber foil for the rest of the cast.

Act I, Scene I: Jolly Nice Weather We're Having, Old Chap

The weather is always a safe subject that everyone agrees on. Sunny = nice. Rainy = bad. Icy = very bad. There's some variability, but for the most part, general consensus runs rampant. So, onto my first contrariness for the day. I wake up this morning, peer out of my bedroom window, and decide that I've been abducted by aliens and placed in a limbo dimension awaiting my fate. Now, thoughts like this can be excused by the fact that I (the non-corporeal, holistic me) was still asleep even though my body was being forced to wake up at the insistence of the alarm clock which I had forgotten to turn off in spite of it being a Sunday. Well, thoughts like that also tend to shake you awake due to the sheer absurdity of them. A tiny little siren goes off in the inner depths of my being, indicating to the PTB that the hoi polloi are rioting due to scare-mongering tactics by the militant left-wingers. Of course, this sets off immediate and drastic action on the part of the ruling junta, the end result being that I lose a few brain cells, but retain what's left of my sanity. An internal memo goes around informing everyone that it's merely very dense fog on the outside, and there's nothing to worry about -- It's just the weather. Then, in order to further disassociate any feelings of panic and doom from the general public, the cabal authorizes the release of endorphins. Now, all of this happens in just a few nano-seconds. By the time the beast that is my consciousness wakes up completely, it is left with a confused feeling of anxiety that is quickly replaced with an all-encompassing feeling of happiness. Thus, my mostly unexplainable embracing of the dreary, foggy, rainy weather that befell us on this surprisingly pleasant day.

Act I, Scene II: I Say, Librarian Ahoy?

Having decided that the day was indeed a glorious one, I decided to leave early for the brunch and visit a bookstore. Specifically, The Barnes & Noble that is next to Thyme Square Cafe in Bethesda -- what with it being convenient et al. After the usual 35 minute trip to Bethesda, I walk in there and decided that I wanted a book on the Knights Templars. Hmmmm....where would I be likely to get help? Luckily for me the folks at B&N anticipated my predicament and had a big sign reading "Information Desk" that seemed to invite all souls in literary distress to gather around and petition the Oracles within. Elated by this wonderful example of forward thinking on the part of the B&N management, I sauntered over and proceeded to get the attention of one of the high priestesses at the desk through the simple expedient of giving her my most winning smile. She, obviously thinking I was in great distress due to the expression on my face, immediately asked me if she could help me. So, I asked her if they stocked books about the Knights Templar, and if so, where would I be able to find them. Apparently, as with most Oracles, it seems we had communication problems. Unlike communications problems with Oracles of old, which centered around the Oracles sniffing various gases and substances to enhance their far-seeing ability, this communication could be laid at the feet of ignorance. She, while being nice enough, decided that I meant the "Nights Temple" and proceeded to type such a query in. The encounter degenerated from there, and wasn't helped by me mentioning the Crusades, or anything else relevant. I finally gave up and decided that this reflected yet another contrary event for this day -- Non-knowledgeable Information Desk people.

Thyme Square Cafe
Above: (Click image for a larger picture)
Thyme Square in all its glory

Act I, Scene III: Subtle, it ain't

Thyme Square Cafe
Above: (Click image for a larger picture)
Susan and Bobby bemused by the gigantic vegetables

Having decided that B&N was scaring me, and having remembered that I had decided to take pictures this time around[1], I walked on over to the Cafe. If you've never seen TSC (Thyme Square Cafe) before, it definitely worth a look. Set amongst a bustling neighborhood and city where restaurants seem to go out of their way to blend in, TSC decided on the opposite route. The external decor catches your attention, through the ocular equivalent of a punch in the solar plexus. It isn't as painful or violent, but does take your breath away. The walls are a rustic yellow, reminiscent of adobe dwellings. Liberally, almost grandiosely painted on the walls are fruits and vegetables, all of which as green. Now, this isn't just green as in painted green (which they are), but green as in only fruits and vegetables that are actually green -- pears, green peppers, peas, etc. Of course, if you take the time to reflect on this a little bit, you see the word play. TSC is all about green food i.e. healthy food. If you haven't already figured out from the name, someone at TSC likes puns.

Anyway, I took a picture of the restaurant, and about the same time Susan and Bobby made their presence felt. Timing it just right, Morgane calls and says she will be late, so the three of us decide to venture forth and wait for her inside, what with us starting to be barraged by the raindrop-shaped little missiles of watery doom. And yes, it was still a wonderful day.

 

 

Act I, Scene IV: "Of Course I'm Schizoid." "No, I'm not"

Thyme Square Cafe
Above: (Click image for a larger picture)
Looking from the purple wall end towards the explosion of color. You can also see the bar on the right

So, we go in, and my first impression is "huh". So as not to deceive, I should say that I approve of the interior decor. It is fun and kinda buoys your spirits. However, there's this weird feel to the place, as if it was a design-by-committee. Not the usual give and take where you end up with the lowest common denominator, but the schizoid process whereby everyone does whatever they want to their allocated section of the restaurant. You look to the left, and the walls are a riot of colors, emblazoned with multi-colored fruits and vegetables. Very fun and spirited. Look to the right and you are treated to purple walls with multiple copies of a painting that looks like it came straight out of Ikea, and tiny multi-colored lights above each table. Look straight and slightly to your right, and you see a bar that seems to be acting kind of like the divider between the two sections, trying mightily to reconcile the two through it's sheer existence. Finally, you get the completely incongruous plastic trees that are wrapped around the supporting beams that are strewn around the place. The hope being that plastic trees (only the trunk mind you, no leaves or branches) are better than thin columns -- someone was obviously not thinking. All in all, you have a feeling that the designer of this place would do very well when given full rein, and seems to have come out of the school of design that's a mysterious blend of "Willy Wonka", "Wizard of Oz", "Toys", the Museum of Modern Art and bad Scandinavian furniture design. Mmmmmmmmmm.

We were greeted by a timid looking waitress who looked like she would be more comfortable in goth chic than in whatever she was wearing. I figure practicality and job demands prevailed and we got treated to the pale shadow of what she could have been. She was a little hesitant but otherwise she was fine.

Act II, Scene I: Ahh, behold the power of.....Health Food?

The restaurant was completely empty, partly because they had just opened, and partly because people don't seem to go to brunch until much later. Our waitress was still inserting the day's specials into the menu, and got flustered since she now had to do two tasks. Humans...nature's multi-tasking machine. She, for some reason unknown to us, took us to the somber (i.e. purple wall) side of the restaurant. That set me to wondering whether we looked like the type of people who would be happier sitting under purple walls than under red, green and generally brilliant hued enclosures. Does the wait staff over there make quick, on-the-spur decisions as to whether I'm a purple person or a vibrant red? I would love to hear their reasoning. And can I get training in this?

The menus, to along with the food-colored theme, were pumpkin colored (or at least they left that impression[2]). I don't remember much about the actual items on the menus themselves, but on the whole they looked pretty appetizing. As evidenced by the fact that it took me a while to figure out what I wanted. While we were waiting, we decided to while time away by having drinks (Coffee for Susan and a Harvest Moon for me. The latter being a delicious concoction of apple, pear, pineapple, and a bunch of other fruits topped off with almonds and honey. Mmmm, mmmm, good) and admiring Susan & Bobby's photographs[3]. In keeping with the theme of photographs, discussions were had about how various parts of the restaurant would photograph well.

I should say a few words about the menu, what with this being superficially a restaurant review. The first thing to catch my eye were the fruit smoothies, and I would certainly like to try all of them. They had about half a dozen of them on the menu and they all sounded good. Then they had what I classify as normal entree choices broken up by whether they were vegetarian, fishy or chickenish. I call them standard, but they had elements of nouveau cuisine in there with a dash (or more like a dollop) of healthiness thrown in for good measure. There was also the brunch menu, and more will be said about that later. One of the things the Thyme Square prides itself on is that it only uses organic, locally grown produce when possible, and I appreciate that. Although, if you are allergic to puns, do not, I repeat do not, look at the back page of the menu. About the time I finished scrutinizing the menu, Morgane popped in.

Act II, Scene II: Let the games begin

Thyme Square Cafe
Above: (Click image for a larger picture)
The rest of the cast posing for the first official cast picture for an Exotic Outing. Bobby, Susan and Morgane. All smiles are we.

Morgane, being Morgane (which all told is how it should be -- impersonating other people doesn't work well) apologized profusely for being late. We teased her about it for a while, but since she had a good reason, we relented[4]. Our waitress immediately came by, being the stellar exemplar of her profession. We decided that Morgane needed more time to peruse the menu, but she did manage to get a pear concoction that seemed to be pretty good. The talk then turns around to the usual swapping of stories and also, since Morgane hadn't seen them, The Photographs (remind me next time to wait until all are accounted and present before perusing the pics). By and by, our lovely hostess walks over and we all make last-minute hurried decisions about our food. Bobby, Susan and I decided on getting the "omelette with grilled asparagus and roasted Yukon gold home fries", while Morgane, ever the individual, went with the "cinnamon and brown sugar French toast with fresh berries". I also ordered the "wild mushroom and leek soup with goat cheese crostini, tomatoes and chives".

The food came pretty quickly, with the only thing happening before then (that I remember) was me using the word flabbergasted and sending Bobby off into peals of laughter. The mushroom soup was really good. My only problem with it was that it could have been a touch warmer. But everything from the texture to the accessories (crostini, etc) was perfect. The omelettes were well done (I exchanged mine with Bobby since he preferred underdone eggs, and his was more cooked than mine) and stuffed with vegetables. The home fires and the asparagus that came with the omelette were pretty decent. Morgane's french toast came in a ginormous[5] bowl, which seemed to exemplify the restaurant in my mind. Every time I think of it, I'll see this huge bowl of french toast. Apparently, the french toast was wonderful (Morgane's opinion). So the food gets a positive rating form all concerned.

We devoured our food like a pack of rabid hyenas, since we were all starving and asked for our damages. Along with those, we also got comment cards and so we (with the exception of Bobby "Filling out comment cards is too plebeian for me" Bhattacharjee) filled them out. I mean, here's someone actually asking for my opinion -- how could I refuse?

Act II, Scene III: The Sun Sets

Well, the sun didn't actually set any time soon, but after a brief stint at Second Story Books. I, unfortunately, had other commitments. And so ended a pretty nice brunch. Yes, it was still raining, and for once seemed appropriate.

Ratings

Service Acceptable and yet Somber
Decor Bright, Colorful and Eye-Catching
Food Healthy Standard Fare with spots of brilliance.

Footnotes

  1. It's in the nature of a scientific experiment -- all exotic outings from now on will have accompanying pictures. Then I run a poll to see if having pictures makes people stay at the review longer. If there is a statistically significant difference then I'll call it a success and move on.
  2. In general, my memories have more to do with holistic impressions rather than reality. That way, I figure I'm getting the essence of what the object/place/encounter was about.
  3. They are taking a photography class, and as with all things Bob, have decided to drown in the ocean that is amateur photography. This makes their idea of photographs distinct from mine. Whereas I go for the snapshot moments not caring a whit about framing, color, light or depth as long as the subject shows up well enough to be recognized, they go for all those parameters plus a few more that I couldn't name if I wanted to. I guess the best way to summarize would be that I take pictures, they take photographs. I like their stuff, and they do seem to be getting better, but I definitely miss all the nuances of their photographs, what with me being a barbarian illiterate.
  4. Her cat got into a fight with her window curtains 'cause she was having a bad hair day (the cat, not Morgane). The curtain, now really mad, billowed up, tore itself off the rod and fell on Morgane, who not being able to see anything stepped on her cat. The cat, startled, teleported itself (you do know cats are much more scientifically advanced than us mere humans, right?) into the kitchen, where it proceeded to upset the Mrs. Butterworth's Original (24 oz.) -- which Morgane had left open) all over herself. So, Morgane spent the next hour or so shampooing her cat's hair.
  5. Yes, that's a word. Go look it up in the "Viren's Smashed Up Words Dictionary". A delicious combination of gigantic and enormous.