Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Dec 01

Thyme of Grace–Eating Local

You know me, I’m always late to the party (remember my post about my discovery of Greek yogurt, oh -about a year after everyone else was eating it?)  Yeah, I’m kinda behind on trendiness. 

I was MIA this week because of Craig’s vacation.  I decided that he shouldn’t have all the fun, so I quickly shirked my painting and writing responsibilities for the week and joined him in lounging around in the mornings, long dog walks in the afternoons and an occasional meal out. 

I am the absolute worst when it comes to picking a place to eat.  This is how our conversations usually go:

Craig:  So, where do you want to go?

Me:  Anywhere, really. 

Craig:  Do you have a taste for anything in particular?

Me:  No, not really.

Craig:  How about that Thai place across town?

Me: No, not there.

Craig:  Italian?

Me:  Meh.  That doesn’t sound very good either, for some reason. 

Craig:  Well, where would you like to go, then?

Me:  Anywhere you want to go. 

Yes, I can be THAT person.  I easily want to wring my own neck for that behavior.  Thank goodness I have a very patient husband.  I have found something out about myself, though.  If I can’t decide on a place to eat it’s usually because I’m tired of having to choose from the same places over and over again. Yes, we just had a Golden Corral and a Cheddar’s open nearby but combine those with other chain restaurants like Chili’s, TGI Fridays and The Olive Garden, it all starts feeling mind numbingly similar after a while.

Locally owned restaurants can be hard to come by if you’re not living in a major metropolitan area, and truthfully, easily forgotten about when the major chains have their billboards and commercials always there to remind you of where they think you should be eating.  I don’t know about you but it seems like the only flavors I’m ever exposed to whenever I go out are either an over abundance of salt or sugar.  There are so many spices and herbs I’ve never even tried, and for those of you who love to cook, you already know that cooking well is not just a skill – it’s an art; a true labor of love.  Local restaurants seem to get that concept, which is why Craig and I decided that if we ate out at all this week, it was going to be locally owned.

I started searching websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Thyme of Grace on Urbanspoon for new and interesting local flare.  Ultimately, we ended up at this small café/bistro called Thyme of Grace in South Bend.  Michele, the owner has been open for over ten years (4 years at her new location) but Craig nor I had heard of this place.

Now, I generally don’t write reviews on restaurants on my blog but this post practically wrote itself.  There was no stopping it.  I mean, just look at this salad:


Spinach, apple slices, fresh grated cheese – and on top: bacon-wrapped dates.  And did you see the beautiful mum and herbs resting on that lovely kale leaf?  This looked too pretty to eat; somehow I managed, though.  Yep.  I powered through Winking smile  So delicious.

And here is my turkey sandwich (so, so yummy) with a carrot slaw that was out of this world, which says a lot since I’m not generally not a big carrot fan:

The entire restaurant was warm and inviting and had quite the eclectic, artistic vibe throughout.  What I found charming was that our table was completely unique and unlike any others thanks to the charming mismatched décor, right down to the silverware, plates and chairs.   Michele, the chef, was absolutely delightful and, as expected, she incorporated flavors that I couldn’t identify but blissfully brought out the goodness in each and every bite. This place literally blew me away.

I’ve always supported local businesses but now understand more than ever how important it is since opening my own art business.  It’s the customers who keep small business owners afloat.   Without you, wonderful establishments like Thyme of Grace wouldn’t exist.  My own livelihood – my joy of painting wouldn’t exist. 

So, even though I’m a bit late in writing my post for supporting Small Business Day this year, I want to encourage you to venture out in your own town to the local businesses that rely on your support all year long.  Who knows what you’ll uncover!

What’s your favorite local hangout, and what makes it so special?

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  1. Roxie says:

    I would never leave that place – it looks and sounds just marvelous. I just got back in from my favorite breakfast spot – it’s a good-old fashioned “Honey, what,ll ya have” cafe within walking distance of my house. They only serve breakfast and lunch and the take the Lord’s Day off.

    • Ellen says:

      I love restaurants like that. I bet there are a lot of regulars there. The locals always know the best places to eat, which is why whenever we’re on vacation we find someone local to ask where we should go.

  2. Caron says:

    Looks and sounds amazing. Thanks for the links to find local places. :)

  3. teresa says:

    that all looks soooo delicious!!!
    I know what you mean about all the chains tasting the same. it’s so yukky. Blah! What’s the point?
    I love yelp for that. I found a place for Stephen and I to try and it was really nice too.
    I’m so glad you took a break, and I hope you’re feeling renewed and inspired to paint some more!!

  4. Like Roxie, my favorite local place is a breakfast-lunch diner. It feels like home.

    Whenever I get a new out-of-town assignment, the first site I search is UrbanSpoon. They’ve helped me find lots of local places in even the smallest towns.

    • Ellen says:

      Yep – Urbanspoon is a great resource. TripAdvisor is pretty good too, although they don’t always keep their restaurants up to date. Having sites like that when you have to drive a lot is SO helpful!

  5. Norma says:

    Chain restaurants are the antithesis of what eating out is supposed to be…mediocre, mass-produced food (that is actually often prepared in a factory kitchen somewhere else, then shipped frozen to the restaurant where it’s microwaved “especially for you”). The only times I go to a TGIFridays, Olive Garden, etc. is if it’s, say, someone else’s birthday and they’re picking the place. Our favorite places in town are a sushi place and a Thai place, both of which we’re on a first-name basis with the owners after becoming “known” as regulars. There’s also an upscale bistro type place that Josh and I save for “date night” without the kids every now and then; just a small, independent place where the food is made to order and you know where the ingredients came from. I am as guilty as anyone for frequenting big box stores and supermarkets for everyday things, however. :(

    • Ellen says:

      I agree, Norma. We just had a Golden Corral open this week and I saw a clip of the news coverage of it. People lined up out the door to get a look at the lengthy buffet. I don’t know; I just can’t seem to eat food like that. It never agrees with me; I always get a gut ache afterwards, and of course – want to eat dessert FIRST.

  6. Vickie says:

    Okay, the girls and I went a local event the Saturday between Black Friday and cyber Monday, and I did not realize it was support local business day, I just thought it was a nice idea. Too funny.

  7. Hanlie says:

    We rarely eat at chain restaurants. Instead, we have a few favorite places we frequent and we’re finding new ones all the time. Actually, there is one chain I support – a juice and smoothie bar. They even have an outlet at my gym.

    I’ve decided that any Christmas presents I buy this year will be from small and local businesses.

  8. Lynn Bonelli says:

    I loathe chain restaurants. Call me spoiled but my one of my biggest pet-peeves is going out with a group of people (even just one other couple) and they insist on a chain restaurant, especially when we were in towns/cities we rarely went to (nothing like going to San Francisco for New Years only to eat at Denny’s in the morning).

    Being on the road now has been a great way to support mom and pop restaurants. We rely on Yelp and have been pretty lucky at finding great food.

  9. didi says:

    Wow! That salad is so beautiful and inviting. Maybe I should use urbanspoon and yelp more often to find new restaurants around here. Though I live in a city of a hundred thousand people- the place is mostly full of chains. Like you said, chains get old after a while. We have a lot of italian, mexican, and chinese to choose from and not much else.

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