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Set in the middle of Leicester’s Spinney Hill Park – a late-Victorian oasis of greenery in the heart of one of the most densely populated parts of the city – Thyme was once a traditional park pavilion. Today it’s an intriguing Mediterranean café/restaurant.
The small building, which sits alone in the park’s centre, contains a handful of tables. It is a challenging building to make feel welcoming thanks to its age, style and location, but the owners have done a pretty good job through the warm lighting and modern decor. There’s a counter showcasing a range of cakes, desserts and sundaes; mocktails and good quality coffees are available too.
The menu offers a nice mezze selection, which means you could happily treat Thyme as a tapas joint. We tried the Sambousek lamb (fried Lebanese pastry parcels filled with minced lamb) – pleasingly spiced, delicate little morsels. Other mezze options include Kabis – Lebanese pickled vegetables – and Arayes – pitta stuffed with minced lamb, onion and assorted Palestinian spices.
Thyme’s menu also lists a fine and extremely affordable range of wraps. We went for the Shish Taouk – charcoal-grilled chicken cubes marinated in Mediterranean herbs and spices with fresh tomato, lettuce and Mediterranean pickles in Lebanese bread. The spices on the tender chicken played nicely against a sturdy charcoal smoke backbone. It came in at under £4 – an impressive price for such a tasty and high quality lunch.
Soups and salads are available too, as are a diverse list of mains (which we didn’t sample), from Italian pasta to Greek moussaka to Lebanese chicken. Takeaway with delivery is an option.
Thyme’s owners have taken on a tricky building in a trickier location and turned it into a great little urban option. The food is good and tasty, and in terms of bang for your buck, the lunch options especially are very hard to beat.
By Matt Wright, founder & editor-in-chief