Twisting American cuisine
Local restaurant Twisted Sage Cafe offers a fresh new dining option.
by Ashley Sourapas
photography by Katherine Careaga
Twisted Sage Cafe is a new restaurant that has the community coming back and taking a second look at this hidden gem of Americana cooking. The menu features fresh quality ingredients with a twist on classic Americana cuisine that has locals’ taste buds craving more. Try the featured crisp granny smith apple and goat cheese salad, topped with tender succulent julienne chicken breast and candied pecans, all tossed in a champagne vinaigrette. Couple it with the cranberry turkey sandwich, served on perfectly toasted wheat bread with cranberry chutney, alfalfa sprouts, melted havarti cheese and roasted garlic aioli. Menu items like this show why the Twisted Sage is a local favorite. One has to look closely for this restaurant, located on the famous Route 66 in San Dimas, tucked into a corporate environment among insurance agencies and accounting firms. The restaurant is worth the hunt; this is a small family restaurant run in a classy way.
Owner Jolyn Thompson is a graduate of the Bonita Unified School District. She may now live in San Dimas, walking distance from her restaurant, but she is at heart from the neighboring city. “I grew up in La Verne, I went to Roynon, Ramona and Bonita,” Jolyn says. She is a wife and mother of two young children. Daughter Chloe, 4 years old, and son Landon, 5 years old, love to help and be a part of the action. Both children attend La Verne Heights Elementary in La Verne. Husband Richard is the general manager and part owner. Jolyn has been working in the industry for 15 years. She graduated form the California School of Culinary Arts. “I can remember her graduating from culinary school in 2002; she has been determined since then to execute ‘our own place,’” says Richard. Before opening her cafe, Jolyn worked in Pasadena as well as at Angels Stadium, serving as a chef in the exclusive Diamond Club, a place where high profile customers come to dine rather than watch the baseball game. “I have cooked for Kobe Bryant and Robin Williams; not many can say that,” says Joyln.
The husband and wife duo each have their own roles to play at Twisted Sage. “My husband is the face, and I am the taste,” says Jolyn. Indeed, diners at Twisted Sage are able to taste Jolyn’s work while Richard’s input is appreciated visually. The atmosphere is raw, eco-friendly and artsy. Twisted Sage has hosted an open mic night in honor of the Invisible Children charity and hopes to do many more charitable events. Local artists showcase their art on the walls, giving customers the opportunity to invest in a one-of-a-kind piece. “My passions in the cafe are the aesthetics: paint, music, artwork, all around decor and trying to show our personality and beliefs through the design,” says Richard. He performs all the artistic touches, from the innovated ombre four leaf logo to the custom paint chalk specials board that on Oct. 25 featured “not your mom’s” biscuits-n-gravy, country fried steak-n-eggs, the buffalo chicken sandwich and french onion soup. The walls are colored forest green. Richard cleverly chose wood elements and refurbished railroad ties for decorations. The tables are all recycled stainless steel, adding a unique touch to the dining experience. “This is my ever-changing focus, to keep people stimulated and comfortable and coming back for more,” he says.
A green kitchen
The cafe and its employees are dedicated to “green” practices. The kitchen is equipped with energy efficient appliances; the “to go” containers are made of recycled paper and even the coffee mugs are handmade by Joyn’s mother Jennifer Simison. The cafe has an incredibly low waste percentage, with only about 5 percent of the supplies ultimately thrown out at week’s end. Jolyn has become resourceful in every way possible to reduce waste and stay “green.” Stale bread is revisioned into their famous creamy bread pudding. The butts of the bread loaves are thrown in the food processer and made into the golden crunch that tops a blend of brie, gruyere, sharp cheddar cheese and thick bacon pieces that make a cheese lover’s mouth water.
The owners translate their goal of encouraging a slower pace of living, coupled with high quality fresh and healthy ingredients to their customers. Nevertheless, they feature “curbside to go” in 2.5 minutes if one calls ahead. Tables can be reserved. Order for 10 or more people, and they deliver for free. “We are hoping to slow down the pace of California and bring fresh quality food to the table,” says Jolyn. The couple see a troubling dining trend in the local area.“In the little bubble that we live in—San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont, Glendora—we live in a different world than what’s out there. We think Applebee’s, Red Robin and these places are what bring us the fresh quality food,“ Jolyn says. Think that? Wait until you try Jolyn’s cooking. The Cafe buys its ingredients from local farms and farmers markets whenever possible. The chefs are continuously cooking up innovative and comforting dishes.
The dining experience
It is breakfast time, and the smell of warm croissants, applewood smoked bacon and French toast fills the Twisted Sage Cafe. At noon, a different aroma hits you at the door: roasted turkey, chipotle aioli, sun dried tomatoes and heavenly soft ciabatta bread. Whether it is breakfast or lunch, the cafe offers a wide variety of unique items from sandwiches and wraps to salads and soups. The menu favorite is the turkey avocado sandwich. Though Jolyn loves that her customers come back for their favorites, she urges them to try something new; she guarantees that they will love it.
Along with their amazing food creations, Jolyn and Richard have enjoyed watching their business succeed. “I am proud of ourselves; we were able to come up with a plan and execute it in the area we grew up,” he says. “I would like to think of us as growing in incremental stages,” says Jolyn. “First we crawled, then walked; now we are almost running.” They know what their customers want; they are balancing that with an acceptable twist of classy gourmet food. “When someone says, what are these sprouts doing on my sandwich, I tell them ‘try it, you’ll like it,’” laughs Jolyn. Her gourmet twist is found in all her classic Americana cuisine. This family has stuck together not only serving great food but serving the community they live in. Try it. Indeed, you will like it.
Twisted Sage Cafe
433 E. Foothill Blvd., Suite 103, San Dimas
What does the Thompson family order?
Jolyn’s favorite sandwich is the cranberry turkey (noted in the story.)
Richard’s favorite is the BLT, served on toasted wheat bread topped with thick slices of applewood smoked bacon, crisp butter lettuce, ripe tomato and garlic aioli.
Landon’s favorite is the chicken caesar wrap served with juicy julienne chicken breast, romaine lettuce, homemade croutons, freshly grated parmesan cheese and caesar dressing, all wrapped up in a spinach tortilla.
Chloe’s favorite is the cheese-lover mac and cheese; however, she personally calls it the daddy mac and cheese. It is a blend of brie, gruyere, sharp cheddar cheese, bacon chunks and topped off with toasted breadcrumbs.