Thyme Cafe and Market Debuts in Santa Monica

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Restaurant Santa Monica

Thyme chef-owner Maire Byrne brings a multifaceted approach to Santa Monica's Sunset Park.

October 13 marks day one for Thyme Cafe and Market from Maire Byrne in Santa Monica’s Sunset Park. The successful seasonally focused caterer decided on “Thyme” because she saw the word as “something cute and fresh.” After a grueling first-day shift, Byrne described her concept as “seasonal, fresh but homey food” and “definitely something gourmet.”

Byrne is a Los Angeles native who started by working as a chef for two years at The Ajax Tavern in Aspen, working for Chef Nick Morfogen during his reign as Food & Wine Best New Chef. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America before interning at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse and working as a line cook for Michael Mina at Aqua before he launched a culinary empire. She returned home to L.A. to launch Thyme Catering. In the past 4+ years, she’s built a client list that’s 700 strong, catering as far away as Ojai and San Diego.

She and Venice-based contractor Brad Heinz jointly designed the airy space, which replaces The Talking Stick coffeehouse, an architect’s office and a second office.

Restaurant Santa Monica

The space features white subway tile walls, concrete floors and a Carrera marble counter. A massive clock is a play on “thyme.”

Blackboard menus feature the breakfast and lunch menus, which Byrne expects to change once or twice per year. A large refrigerated display case is filled with dishes of seasonal salads and prepared foods. One current offering is the butternut squash salad with arugula, Manchego, walnuts and cherries.

At breakfast, you’ll find options like a BLT Egg Sandwich on Baguette ($6.50), Challah French Toast w/Maple Syrup ($6.50) and Slow-cooked Scrambled Eggs w/Sautéed Mushrooms and Herbs on Grilled Sourdough ($6.50). There’s also a variety of muffins, scones, croissants, coffee cake, crisps and tarts.

Later in the day, you’ll find a dozen sandwiches and nine salads. Think turkey meatloaf with caramelized onion and harissa aioli on baguette ($7.50), pressed salami and Provolone with olive tapenade on sourdough ($8.50) and grilled salmon salad with mixed greens, haricot verts, cherry tomatoes and raspberry vinaigrette ($8.50). All the bread comes from nearby Le Pain Du Jour.

Bakery Santa Monica

Pastry Chef Lisa Vega previously worked at Providence, Craft Los Angeles and Yountville’s Bouchon Bakery and now fills Thyme’s counters and cases.

Vega’s initial seasonal offerings might include a pear-huckleberry crisp, pumpkin bread pudding or gingerbread cupcake with spiced frosting. For customers interested in coffee, Thyme’s staff is pulling shots of espresso using a custom Groundworks blend.

In the refrigerated grab-and-go case, you’ll currently find a range of sodas and raw materials, including pesto, lime curd, Lucques olives and ratatouille. Other options include turkey sausage Bolognese, sun-dried tomato dip, hummus, and pints of Moroccan lentil or butternut squash soup. Byrne plans to add more grab-and-go dinners, including chicken curry, beef bourguignon and chicken enchiladas.

Address: 1630 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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