Thyme is a small family run Mediterranean restaurant which opened in my home city of Leicester earlier this year. The really interesting thing about it is it’s unusual home – in a pavilion right in the centre of Evington’s Spinney Hill Park! This is a re-write of a review I originally wrote for Leicester Mercury’s More Magazine. Thyme was such a hidden gem that I just had to share it again today!
With my brother for company, in a kind of farewell supper, before I moved away, we arrived to find the restaurant’s brightly lit sign beckoning us in from the darkness. As we approached, we noticed that the place was empty which meant we dithered a little before heading inside. Hilal, the owner and front of house manager welcomed us warmly and we were soon sat down looking through the menu and feeling very much at home despite there being no one else dining.
The menu is small with a broad mix of Mediterranean dishes to choose from – covering everything from whole baked sea bass and lasagne to mezze and shish kebabs. To start, we went for the cold mixed mezze and the arayes. The mezze platter (to share) was generous and well balanced with a herby tabbouleh salad, hummus, crispy little falafels, pita, spring rolls and moutabal – an unusual smoky aubergine dip. The arayes – pitta bread stuffed with Palestinian spiced lamb, tomatoes and onions – was just delicious. Griddled almost like a quesadilla and gobble up good.
For our mains, we ate lamb shawarma and shish taouk (charcoal grilled chicken). The option of rice or chips was easy – one of each. The shwarma was delicately spiced with hints of cinnamon, almost sweet in flavour. Paired with a nutty, salty tahini sauce and eaten wrapped up in bread, it was an unusual but enjoyable flavour. Forget square, measly cubes of chicken. My shish taouk was made up of four large and juicy chunks of chicken, marinated in lemon and herbs. The rice was cooked to perfection and I even ate my side salad. It must’ve been good. Whilst we had absolutely no complaints about the food, the real star of the show was the garlic sauce. I keep thinking about it and I can’t seem to put my finger on it. Creamy but sharp, fresh and very garlicky, this was the world away from the garlic sauce you see at kebab houses.
As we drove home, we were almost euphoric about the meal we’d just eaten. The food was excellent but the icing on the cake was Hilal himself. We spent a lot of time chatting to him about the restaurant, about ourselves and the food and his passion and enthusiasm was effervescent. The quality of what is being done at Thyme deserves recognition. Good food, cooked well and served with real passion.
|Hilal Ahmed – Image from Leicester Mercury.
I’m 100% confident that now summer is here, the doors will be thrown open and crowds will flock. With outside seating, great coffee and sorbet to die for, why wouldn’t they?