About Thyme in Niagara wine country - amazing
I had one of those I MUST TELL THE INTERNET ABOUT THIS meals yesterday at About Thyme bistro in Vineland. My girlfriend ranked it as the best meal she's had since she first discovered Libretto, and I rate it the best since I had my panties knocked off at Batifole two years ago.
The approach to the place is not promising: it's a two-unit "strip mall" type building on the outskirts of Vineland, and the signage out front is done in 100% authentic Comic Sans. Two things which say RUN LIKE HELL. But we got a recommendation from the impressively macho italian guy behind the counter at Ridgepoint Winery, and my girlfriend's sixth restaurant sense went off when we passed.. and one minute after they were supposed to open, we were seated.
The menu is prix fixe, and I'm going to leave the prix part to the end. The structure of the menu is appetizer, main, dessert. They aim for flavours on the bombastic end of the spectrum, clearly aiming for french bistro style - fat is in, flavour is in. Their sauces and reductions are DAYYYUM quality, and they seemed to have good ingredient quality.
The food was AMAZING. It's hard to say why exactly. Everything was perfect from idea to execution.
I had a paté over salad with a very intelligent vinagrette reduction dressing, the girlfriend had lightly curried cauliflower soup with pear and a crème finish.
Mains for her was seared duck breast - I always find duck a hair on the gamey side, and this was no exception, but she declared it the best duck she's ever run into, and she's French. Roast fingerling potatoes, some nicely treated vegetables. The sauce finish on that was some sort of fig thing. I had a lake trout (origin unknown) over a wine reduction, again more nicely treated veg (broccoli, beans, asparagus).
The finishing touch - carrot cake with brilliant icing for me, delirium-inducing crème brulée for her topped it off.
The wine list is 100% niagara, for the most part drawn from the lesser-known smaller wineries around Beamsville and Vineland. You can bring your own (corkage unknown) or order from a reasonable selection of great wines @ $7 a glass. There's some obviously excellent stuff in the cellar, too. The baco noir pairs amazingly with duck. Like, really amazingly.
Service is exactly what you'd expect and had an unconventional, though great, wine pairing for my trout.
So as I enjoyed that meal, my mind rewound to the beginning of the meal. What was the prix fixe? Oh yeah.... 27 DOLLARS.
This is an outrageously good deal. Some items bump the price up (fancy-pants beef with mushroom aioli poutine etc +$8) but.. seriously? 27 bucks for a 3-course genius meal?
Definitely going back.
Love that duck. BTW, the corkage on wines from the neighbouring wineries (defined as Lincoln because Vineland is in the town of Lincoln) is $10.00. All other wines get a $15.00 corkage. I just got back from Paris where I ordered a charcouterie plate at what the concierge of my hotel said was a famous gourmet restaurant just off Rue Lafayette. Just for the hell of it I ordered About Thyme's charcouterie platter which worked out to about half the price. Compared with the Bistro's platter the Parisienne one was like a McDonald's burger compared to a filet mignon. On top of that, the place is spotless.
interesting that this post came up right when i was searching for this on my phone while dining at the restaurant this weekend
the place was packed, we were told to come back half and hour later because they had no seats left.... we gladly paid a visit to one of the neighbourhood wineries for some pre-lunch samples.
as described above, the inside of this place was totally unexpected given the suspect font on its sign. a classic case of don't judge a book by its cover. clean, modern and minimalistically decorated, with a window to the kitchen from the dining room to see the frenzy inside.
nice wine list with a heavy (I think almost complete) emphasis of local wines. not only "niagara" local but lincoln county local! good choice of wines by the glass at a very reasonable $6 or 7 a glass, almost a steal.
we shared a giant charcuterie platter, had some cured sausages, a confitted house smoked pork (I'm only guessing), cured beef, house smoked salmon, an outstanding chicken liver pate, a spicy chorizo like sausage, with mouth puckering gherkins. One of the best platters I've ever had, I might venture to say better that Cava's! Appropriate amount of saltiness in all the meats, I find most charcuterie far too salty to my taste. The smoked salmon was silky smooth with excellent flavor of salmon. good quality bread came with it. the entire platter was almost enough alone as lunch for 2, and a brilliant bargain at $16.
Duck was actually duck 2 ways, moist not-oversalty crackling crispy skinned leg confit and a small portion of seared breast, blueberry sauce a perfect foil to the "ideally" fatty duck, puy lentils and grilled veges round out a beautiful bistro dish. Every component was perfectly cooked.
Cornish hen with "caesar" salad an inspired combination, skillfully cooked to retain the meat's moisture.
Flourless chocolate torte finished off a great lunch, we were absolutely stuffed when we stumbled out of the restaurant.
To complete this, friendly service to boot!
This will be my go-to place for lunch in wine country for the next little while. They really should change the font on that sign into something more befitting for a restaurant of this calibre.
I'm glad you posted this. Last year I was invited to a private reception at Tawse winery. It was catered by a company that I thought did a fantastic job. Took their card, lost it and for the life of me could not remember the name or location. This is it! Thank you - it will be on my to do list for sure.