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The Beach Gourmet: The Longest Day…Cora’s Coffee Shop.:

The stretch of Ocean Ave. between Pico Blvd. to the south and Broadway to the north is dominated by some of the most imposing structures that Santa Monica boasts, mainly glorious hotels and the recently completed Rand behemoth. Nestled amongst these are a small number of independent gastronomic pit stops harking back to times of yore. One of these is the evidently popular Cora’s breakfast and lunch house. My friend and I visited Cora’s this past Saturday, and it was an arresting experience. Yes, it was busy, but after a 40 minute wait even our Zen patience was wearing thin, so we prodded the maitre’d for the second time to please let us proceed to the empty table we had been worshipping from afar. He relented, and seated us in the entrancingly decorated floral-covered patio. About 30 minutes after we had ordered, our dishes appeared (total time from arrival to table 70 minutes, a personal record for me). We enjoyed delightful cappuccinos ($4.00) and very fresh grapefruit juice ($4.00) in order to limber up our taste buds prior to sharing a VERY generous stack of Orange Pancakes with fresh blueberries ($7.50) and a perfectly clean Baratta Caprese omelet – a mozzarella omelet topped with tomatoes and basil ($8.50). The pancakes were superb with a seductive balance between the sweetness of the organic orange juice and the tartness of fresh blueberries conveyed in fluffy but robust pancakes. The Baratta Caprese Omelet, although a bit on the cool side, was delightful, greaseless and featherlike with just the right amount of mozzarella to create a pleasant, harmonious taste. The tomatoes with basil were fresh and tasty, and the dish was accompanied by an agreeable slice of brioche toast. They do offer an extensive array of 24 lunch items to boot, with an interesting Italian/International fusion including Italian Sausage Polenta and Chinese Chicken Salad.All in all, the experience was less than consummate, with the worst blemishes being the long wait and inattentive maitre’d (we did request coffee twice in the 40 minute wait, but to no avail). On the plus side, the food was good, with fine ingredients, and it was well presented. I would suggest that you give it a try yourself. Cora’s Coffee Shop, 1802 Ocean Ave., 310.451.9562.

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