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The Campanile

Thyme offers new take on classic cuisine

Left: Thyme’s storefront on the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Cowper Street. Right: Thyme’s steak sandwich with grilled onions is accompanied by a simple green salad. Maggie Rosenthal/The Campanile

Tucked just a block away from the bustling University Avenue and its trendy new restaurants and coffee shops is a new restaurant, Thyme, which sits on the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Cowper Street. A refreshing change from the typically overpriced and overrated cuisine downtown, Thyme serves fresh, quality food at reasonable prices. Since just recently opening in late December, Thyme currently only serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays, although they expect to open for dinner service in the coming months.

Thyme maximizes its small corner location and creates a welcoming ambience. The wood detailing throughout the interior exudes a modern feel. On the contrary, Thyme’s exterior is lacking, with small simple signage which can slip into the background and may cause passerby to skip over this superior restaurant.

The daily rotating menu is fairly simple and limited, as it usually includes a soup, a few entrees and a couple desserts. The menu changes based on the availability of ingredients at fresh markets, but consistently includes more popular options, such as pasta and the steak sandwich.

The soups are simple yet hearty, with large and satisfying portion sizes. The potato and sweet corn chowder ($7.50) delivers with bold flavors. The chowder is a fairly thin soup, and it is not cream-based as one might expect. The soup benefits from the unexpected whole kernels of corn added in and its unique blend of spices.

The steak sandwich with caramelized onions ($12.50) is filling. The lightly seasoned, tender steak pairs well with the sweetness of the onions. The sandwich is served on hearty artisan bread, with a thick crust and chewy interior. The bread could be a bit robust for some tastes; however, its moist texture cannot be beaten. Several entrees, including the steak sandwich, come paired with a small side salad. The combination of simple greens and light mustard vinaigrette provide a lighter contrast to the filling steak.

Thyme also delivers with its bacon tart ($10.50), a flavorful play on a classic quiche. The tart features a buttery and flaky crust, but not enough of it. The crisp, saltiness of the pork on top of the quiche will please any bacon lover.

Another clever entree is the asparagus risotto ($9.50). Thyme manages to take a traditionally heavy dish and make it light with the addition of fresh vegetables and reduced cream. The creamy risotto is complimented by the added texture of green beans.

For dessert, Thyme elevates the classic cheese platter ($7.00) into an original treat, featuring a mouthwatering combination of warm goat cheese and roasted apricots, with pine nuts and crackers for an added crunch.

The dish brings sweet and savory elements to dessert. The bitter and sour goat cheese plays off of the honey and tender roasted apricots. Together with crackers and crisp pine nuts, this dessert hits the mark.

Thyme’s delicious and healthy lunch options allow diners to treat themselves to a refreshing meal without breaking their wallets. Entrees come in at around $10 to $13, making them remarkably affordable considering the quality of the ingredients and the downtown Palo Alto location. Appetizers, soups and desserts are offered for around $7 to $9, making them a reasonable add-on to any meal and even better to share with friends or family.

Service is prompt and friendly, adding to the inviting atmosphere. Waiters and waitresses are well-informed and willing to answer questions about the restaurant and its menu. They are especially helpful in assisting with dietary restrictions or allergies.

Overall, Thyme is a diamond in the rough of Downtown Palo Alto. The new restaurant offers clever spins on classic dishes, fresh and healthy ingredients, and a great value. With its inventive and ever changing menu, and affordable prices, Thyme can quickly become a go-to restaurant for any diner in search of a refreshing bite. Be sure to check out Thyme for a quick and satisfying meal.

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