Edgy New Cafe Serves Great American Food with a Twist

March 18, 2011
Share this story:
It's one happy (twisted) family at the new San Dimas cafe, just past the La Verne border.

It's one happy (twisted) family at the new San Dimas cafe, just past the La Verne border.

Would you try the food if you knew that the chef had:

·         Graduated from the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena

·         Interned at Angel Stadium (in 2002, the same year the Angels won the World Series)

·         Opened a Macaroni Grill in Oregon

·         Worked at the amazing and legendary Beaverton Bakery, and

·         Run the Nordstrom café in downtown Portland, Ore.?

It just so happens you’re going to get your chance now that Jolyn Thompson and her husband Richard have opened Twisted Stage Café and Catering in San Dimas just over the border on Foothill Blvd. in the suddenly hip-and-happening San Dimas.

The café sends out a good aura as you pull into the Canyon Trails business park that was developed by Sea West Enterprises, Inc., a general contracting firm that has long ties to La Verne and San Dimas and whose La Verne owners, Eric and Jennifer Simison, are Jolyn’s parents.

Inside, you find a raw, urban, eco-friendly vibe featuring lots of exposed and recycled wood, including a butcher block counter that’s as funky as it is functional. “It’s more of an art piece,” said Richard, who ditched his job as an operations manager for Crate & Barrel in Cost Mesa to follow his passion of opening a café that serves fresh fare in a space that combines earthiness and industrial chic.

Shop lights softly shine down on stainless steel tables while highlighting the sage walls and acid-stained concrete flooring. Miles Davis, were he still alive, might play gigs here on weekends.

Jolyn and Richard's new home at The Twisted Cafe.

Jolyn and Richard's new home at The Twisted Cafe.

At the counter, you begin entering Jolyn’s domain. On Friday’s menu, the roasted corn chowder soup was wonderfully textured and impossible to pass up. Open just a week, the restaurant is already attracting repeat customers asking for the café’s seared ahi salads, sandwiches and wraps, and a crisp apple and goat cheese salad topped with candied pecans and a champagne dressing made daily.

The No. 1 seller is a turkey avocado sandwich with roasted turkey (roasted and sliced on site), avocado, bacon, onion, roasted garlic aioli and balsamic marmalade. Artistry has even gone into the sides. You can have conventional chips or ones made from beets, parsnips, and sweet potatoes.

“It’s all about being creative,” Jolyn said.

Richard and Jolyn graciously invite guests into their kitchen where Chef Antoine is busy constructing his latest coup de grace. They want everyone to know what goes into every loving bite.

“We cook American food with a twist,” Jolyn said. “In your tuna sandwich, you’re going to find hints of dill and cayenne. We’re a mom and pop, but we kind of live out of the box.”

Think Panera Bread whose owners have gone off the corporate grid, constantly mixing and matching old-time favorites to invent pleasing new culinary combinations.

At the same time, Jolyn and Richard are proud parents, too (Landon, 4; Chloe, 3), so they don’t cater to just the working crowd. On their menu is also a marvelous macaroni cheese oozing gruyere and sharp cheddar.

As proud parents, they also emphasize the importance of starting the day off with a good breakfast. They’re doing their part, offering a “Breakfast plate” for $4.25 that comes with three eggs, two slices of bacon, roasted potatoes with garlic and green onions and a baguette with jam and butter. Some places charge that much for a cup of coffee. Other menu favorites include flakey breakfast croissants and bacon waffles.

The Twisted Sage is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, but don’t think Jolyn and Richard sleep in on weekends. They have also launched a brisk catering business that can comfortably serve parties up to 200 people.

“I’m most proud of the fact that we went all in as a family to open the café,” Richard said. “Everything comes from the heart. It’s us. It’s our vibe.”

It’s a new café – with a twist – that you should try.

433 E. Foothill Blvd., San Dimas, (909) 305-0724

Leave a Reply