“I just want to be happy.” he said.
The sentence stopped me in my tracks as I was taking photos of dishes at Flower Child in Santa Monica. It was a hard sentence to hear from anyone, but coming from an older man discussing his divorce, it struck a chord. I have no real understanding of what any type of separation feels like. The closest thing I’ve experienced was an extreme break up or a fast before Easter. Either way, it doesn’t compare. As I listened to the man I named Bill talk about how things were falling apart with his wife and how it was affecting their son, it was difficult to hear of his struggle—even for an competitive eavesdropper like myself. I wanted to say something to him, but what the heck do I know? I wanted to give him a smile, but he would probably consider me crazy. I know I would. Instead, I just took a sip from my Lemonade ($3.50).
I was sitting at a table outside of the restaurant after just ordering my food. Prior to being seated I walked inside the restaurant and I immediately loved the design and how the space felt like good energy; from the pictures on the walls to the details on the stairs. It felt nice here and it felt like a pleasant place to be to get your mind going in a positive direction. Maybe that’s why Bill and his friend were here. Looking over the menu, the meat-lover in me thought of ordering something to fit my usual appetite, but I wanted to try something different and opted for an entire vegetarian meal. It would be something different for me. But if a guy can go through a divorce, I think I could manage to skip meat for a single meal.
As the waitress brought out my order I continued to take photos and while still listening to the conversation behind me. In my defense, our tables were so close to one another it was hard not to listen. After I finished taking photos I took a sip of my lemonade. The honey pear vanilla drink was light and faint in its taste. Within each sip I loved how the rich honey was the prominent flavor with very gentle vanilla notes weaved throughout it. The lemonade was perfectly balanced, not leaning on an overly sweet or tart side, which made it ideal. Adding to the perfection, there were free refills on the lemonade!
Excuse me as I get seconds.
As I put down my drink, I pulled the Vegetable Soup ($5) close to me. The bowl consisted of a variety of vegetables and spices including potatoes, chickpeas, celery, and cilantro. Not a single piece of meat in sight. “I think I will be ok”, I reassured myself. Spoonful after spoonful it turns out, I was just fine with the soup the way it was. I really enjoyed that it had such a light and thin broth that seemed to soak up all the flavors and accents from the vegetables. As I stirred my spoon around the bowl to pull up more of its hearty ingredients and gave them all a try, again and again it felt as if everything in the bowl was necessary without a single item seeming out of place. Although it may be common to want soup on a cold day or when you’re sick, this casual vegetable soup would be great to have even if the day and your health don’t fall in one of those categories.
The final plate to my lunch was the Madras Curry ($10) with Tofu ($4). This was the plate that made the meat lover in me nervous. I tried to convince myself that the tofu looked like chicken in hopes that it would taste that way. A few bites in and there was no convincing, but I found that I liked it. I was surprised because normally, I don’t like the texture of tofu. However, here the tofu was nicely done so that it was smooth and solid with each bite. As I grabbed forkfuls of the soft golden potatoes I could hear Bill telling his friend how surprised he was at liking his own plate. Looks like I wasn’t the only one. I decided to turn my ear off to their conversation as best as possible as my lunch came close to its end. I think me being nosy had hit its maximum. Doing so let me enjoy the last tastes of the crunchy green beans covered in the rich curry sauce and the small raisins. As I realized the plate nearing its end, I came to the realization that I was very pleased with it and my meatless lunch.
Great job Flower Child, you did the impossible.
As the dinner ended, I put my fork down and walked away from my table to go to the restroom to wash my hands. Up the beautiful stairs and to the restroom I still thought about Bill and how he seemed like he just wanted to fast-forward time to when he was in a better place. As I left the restroom, luck let us cross paths. I let him know that I had heard his conversation and wished him the best going through his situation. Underneath the restaurant’s beautiful light fixture he expressed his gratitude. I walked out of Flower Child happy that I had a meal that was opposite my usual and that I enjoyed it. Even more, I walked away somewhat glad that I got to interact with a person during a difficult time. Ultimately, it felt like Flower Child is more than just a restaurant that offers plates to fit any palate. It’s also the type of restraint that opens the door to conversations between strangers. In the end, I drove out of Santa Monica feeling ok and I can only hope that Bill is too.
- Food tastes great
- Friendly staff
- Can get crowded quickly