Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Support Your Local - Thyme Square Cafe & Restaurant

It's easy when it's as good as you hope it will be!

You couldn't blame us for being sceptical when a cafe that has been known only for serving coffee and breakfast suddenly morphs into a wine bar which serves food and liquor. The chalkboard menu on the sidewalk certainly looked promising but then anyone can write a menu that tempts your tastebuds so, on the occasion of Yaya's birthday, we decided to try it out!

The fit-out is certainly luxurious. The restaurant is long and narrow with a service counter taking up most of one half and a single row of tables with a studded soft leather-look banquette forming the seating next to the wall while the wooden chairs opposite were comfortable while not taking up a lot of space. A lot of thought has gone into the use of space.The restaurant is obviously confident of doing well because they're in the process of expanding into the shop next door.

We were lucky enough to score the end of the banquette with the plush cushions. The lighting, while moody, was not so dark that we couldn't see our food and as you will see from the photos, it's perfect for blogging!

Mirrors help to make the space feel larger and the maroon feature wall made me feel like we were sitting in a gallery and the simple sprays of "greenery" were a lovely touch.

Not a single detail has been overlooked, from the delicate water carafes to the sweet (Ikea sourced!) glasses.

But what about the food?!! Well, as this is the early days of the restaurant, they are offering on alternating nights either half price main courses or a free entree, normally worth an average of $12.00. We dined on an evening when the latter was offered. If you think that this means that the meals are going to be "delicate" then think again! Of the 5 or 6 options, we chose the Smoked Cod Croquettes, the Chicken Liver Pate and the Salt & Pepper Calamari.

The croquettes were crispy outside and flavourful and flaky inside - evidence of real fish! This was served with a mustardy mayonnaise, lemon & bitter greens with a light dressing. The chicken liver pate was herbed and garlicky and served with three very crispy herb toasts and a sweet tomato relish which had mustard seeds which satisfyingly burst in your mouth!

The calamari was honestly no better or worse than any other we'd tasted before, it was certainly tender enough, but what made it special was the caramelised onion relish which accompanied it. If, as we did, you decide to try all three dishes, one after the other, be sure to take a sip of water after each dish. The pate tasted bland after eating the calamari but my opinion changed after a second tasting.

For a light supper, the three entrees would probably have been sufficient but we were there for dinner so again, out of 5-6 choices, we chose Fish of the Day (a pan fried John Dory served on mashed potato with a generous swathe of the tomato relish from the croquette entree), the Linguini with Roasted Baby Tomatoes, Garlic Chilli & Lemon (with optional prawns) and the Rib Eye. We were offered sides of two different salads but we chose the Bean Cassoulet. Chips weren't offered but having seen them on the sidewalk menu many times, we asked if they were available and they were!

The fish was delicately cooked and well flavoured, the mash was buttery and smooth, the linguini was al dente and the hint of lemon was superb. I've never been a fan of huge king prawns as they never stay crisp when cooked all the way through so I would probably not request those again.

Rib Eye is not an easy cut to get right. It was a slender cut and cooked medium rare. Even so, there were definitely chewy parts but not because it was overcooked. The big drawcard here was the herbed butter that melted over the top of the meat and permeated every mouthful.

On the side dishes, I made the mistake of thinking that the beans were going to be green (mixed up my foodie terminology!) so when these came out I was looking at a very beige meal, something I always try to avoid! Still, they were tasty, studded with bacon bits and various herbs and pepper. I couldn't say that I love this dish as I find beans done this way a little gluggy but the flavour was certainly there and, eaten in moderation (and on an empty stomach) quite more-ish.

And so to the chips! Those of you who know us well know that we are forever on the look-out for the perfect chip. These were close to perfection. Very crispy with a sprinkling of rock salt, neither too little nor too much. They were as good as some of the best! Unfortunately, our very full stomachs wouldn't allow us to eat all of them otherwise we would have!

If it hadn't been Yaya's birthday, we probably would have skipped dessert altogether but this Coffee Panacotta sounded really nice so the three of us shared one. It was everything we hoped it would be, firm but creamy and coffee scented without a hint of bitterness. The pannacotta sat on a cream anglaise sauce with dark chocolate coated coffee beans. Yum!

The food was beautifully presented and we felt quite special, almost as if we were sitting in someone's home rather than a restaurant. The service was friendly and attentive without being intrusive. I urge you to go before it gets too busy!

Thyme Square Cafe, Bar & Restaurant
Shop 5
43A Florence St Hornsby


  1. OMG when did that happen? I hadn't noticed and as it is the husband's birthday soon (happy birthday ya ya), it may be a toss up between that and Rails! Caramelised onion..hmmmm. Chocolate pannacotta...hmmm...and go the beige meal I say!! LOL. Great find.

  2. Happy Birthday to Ya Ya! What a nice way to celebrate (and of course with food, what else? :P)

  3. I popped my head in today and it looks really nice..I see they are refurbishing the cafe next door too! So, they are upscaling..can't wait to see what they do there.

  4. if you're curious about the rest of the menus visit

  5. Had Valentines dinner there last night. It was amazing. We had a four course meal for a fixed price. Champagne on the house to kick off the evening, an entree, mains with a choice of side dish and dessert. Everything was just out of this world. With three chefs in the kitchen, they made sure of every culinary detail. The service was prompt and friendly. My wife and I really felt spoiled.