Food Review: Just in Thyme for a lunch deal that hits the mark in Sheffield

Head chef Sean Allen and manager Carl Grayson at Thyme Cafe. Picture: Andrew Roe
Head chef Sean Allen and manager Carl Grayson at Thyme Cafe. Picture: Andrew Roe

Neighbourhood café with a wide-ranging menu still going strong into its second decade.

The food empire of Sheffield chef and restaurateur Richard Smith has become a little more streamlined in recent years. Rhubarb and Mustard on Ecclesall Road, the Beauchief Hotel and Artisan at Crosspool have all become the stuff of memories.

Superfood Salad at Thyme Cafe. Picture: Andrew Roe

Superfood Salad at Thyme Cafe. Picture: Andrew Roe

But Thyme Cafe, on Glossop Road in Broomhill, is still alive and kicking, 13 years since Smith and co-founder Adrian Cooling started the venture as an informal offshoot of Thyme, the predecessor of Artisan.

And dropping by on a weekday afternoon, it wasn’t hard to see why - huge blackboards densely scribbled with the names of mouthwatering creations lined the walls as ever, and the ‘Just in Thyme’ menu - offered from 11am to 3pm, and 5pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday - had drawn in a healthy number of diners.

We tried the two courses for £13 deal, which comes with a regular drink - a glass of house wine, a half-pint of beer or lager, or a soft drink, tea or coffee. There’s also the option of choosing one course for £10, or adding dessert for £16.

A starter of creamed garlic mushroom bruschetta was packed with flavour. The crunchy bread was generously smothered with the creamy topping, which wasn’t overly rich, surprisingly. Parmesan and a rocket salad added tang and spice.

Thyme Cafe. Picture: Andrew Roe

Thyme Cafe. Picture: Andrew Roe

Roast tomato and goat’s cheese arancini were similarly successful - plump risotto balls in a golden breadcrumb coating, served with a small dish of vibrant green pesto. Goat’s cheese can be a little hit and miss, sometimes with an overwhelming farmyard aroma, but here it was simply light and fresh.

As for the mains, the aubergine and coriander falafel burger was an interesting departure from everyday beef. Tomato and chilli chutney turned up the heat, but mild feta cheese and harrisa yoghurt levelled out the dish.

Of course there were fries (in a miniature metal bucket - a trend that’s surely had its day) - again, a generous portion of proper, freshly-fried, thinly cut potatoes.

Fish and chips is a lunchtime stalwart, and Thyme’s version didn’t disappoint, with thick, crisp batter, minted mushy peas, tartare sauce and those fries again.

Service was friendly and attentive, while the bill came to £26, including half-pints of Thyme Bitter, brewed by Thornbridge, and Estrella lager.

Head chefs Sean Allen and Dave Batty are in charge, although next month Dave is leaving, meaning Sean will lead the cafe alone. Future plans involve expanding the vegetarian offering and hiring a new fish supplier.

Star rating our of five:

Food: 4

Service: 4

Atmosphere: 4

Value: 4

Three more to choose from:

1. The York, Broomhill
2. Eten, East Parade, City Centre
3. Fusion Organic Cafe, Arundel Street, City Centre