Sheila Pell 11 a.m., Oct. 22
Breakfast: Eat with Matisse!
Ed eats brekky surrounded by art, French signs and red trolleys. Result: zero I.G.I!
Came off the trolley at the Santa Fe around nine in the morning. Looking for a quick breakfast. But not much time. Have to catch the Coaster, 9:48. Ooh, yes this'll give me a chance to check out the St. Tropez in the America Plaza trolley station nearby. That's one of a little chain of French bistros that sprang up around town about ten years back, and still look French and cheeky.
So I cut across Kettner, pass the Eritrean cab drivers, arguing and laughing beside their cabs as usual, and into the curved trolley station.
And thar she blows! Except...not St. Tropez. It says "Matisse Bistro," and it has a bunch of Matisse paintings to prove it.
But apart from the art and the name, the location (600 West Broadway, up the other end of the trolley station at C and India) and everything else seems pretty-much the same...the "Café des Artistes" bar inside, the big, underused sidewalk patio on India Street, the French bons mots scattered around the walls and ceilings.
"What's the fastest, healthiest thing I can get that's gonna pack me with energy?" I ask the gal at the counter. Got a long day ahead.
Her name's Luciana. Comes from Peru, the "gastronomical capital of the Americas," she says. Wow.
She thinks for a moment.
"I would choose the Greek yogurt bowl," she says. "Because it has fruits and granola and banana and honey...but if you like French food..."
"...I would have the Croque Monsieur. It's really good here."
Wow. If she says so, and being from the gastronomical capital of the Americas and all... It's basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with a cream sauce. Comes with roasted potatoes and fruit. Costs $8.25. Add a fried egg and make it a Croque Madame and you pay $9.25.
Oh man. So want that.
But Luciana says the Greek yogurt bowl ($6.95) would definitely be quicker.
So, sigh, I go for that, and a coffee (costs $2, but it is a nice big ceramic mug, and the Colombian is beautifully smooth).
The surprise is how refreshing and filling this yogurt'n granola and fruit is. I like dipping into the invisible lake of (non-fat, low-carb) yogurt that's hidden by the granola, scooping up some granola, glooping it down, then stuffing my mouth with some strawbs and bananas.
Kinda having to gulp at it because by the time it comes, I'm running out of time. Still got to face that hellish Coaster ticket machine. At the last minute I remember to rip'n squeeze the two sachets of honey onto it, and that really lifts it to a new, tangy sweet level.
"Why the name change from 'St. Tropez' to 'Matisse'?" I ask Luciana.
"I don't know," she says. "But I think it is the same people running it."
Maybe they just wanted to hit the refresh button.
Actually, that's what this yogurt'n fruit has done for me. Like, fill-up? Check. Healthy? Check. Energy? Check-check. IGI (Indulgence Guilt Index)? Zero. Can't be bad.
But I'll probably still go for the Croque Monsieur next time, because it's just more, well, French.