Wild Thyme

A firm favourite of Norwich’s foodies Wild Thyme has just reopened and it’s better than ever. Slip down a side alley into the fabulously named ‘Labour in vain yard’ and you find one of the city’s best vegan & vegetarian restaurants. No longer need non meat eaters be second class citizens desperately hunting for the elusive and infrequent ‘V’ on a restaurant menu. Peruse with confidence that your enjoyment need have no pangs of carnivorous guilt and embrace the ecstasy and indecision that comes with choice. Nut roast be gone! Now, what should I have…

Atmosphere At the top of a flight of stairs sits the subtly stylish café restaurant. Arched windows look out over the cobbled courtyard and flood the high vaulted dining room with light. Exposed brickwork and beams and painted woods are complimented with hanging plants and succulents on every table. Sparing bursts of colour from the artworks offset an otherwise simple and relaxed environment.

Starters We started strong with two very fun dishes. The Indian spiced bubble and squeak may have been quite subtle on spice but acted as a soſt and comforting base for a couple of big hitters. A perfectly poached egg exploded colour and flavour to bring out the best of the bubble and squeak. To cut through this richness it came with pickled cauliflower which also gave a satisfying and contrasting bite.

With this we had sweetcorn and polenta fritters with a tomato and cardamom dip. These too were more about enjoying the satisfyingly comforting texture as the subtle flavour was more a vessel for the rich accompanying sauce. Both of these starters showed that no dish had a showy centre piece, instead the plates are carefully craſted to balance complimentary items, a feat that proved true for the main course.

Main Event Jackfruit is a constant reminder to never judge by appearances; the extra-terrestrial abomination that is the jackfruit, aſter some arcane intervention and the liberal application of some heavy duty power tools yields a wonderfully textured flesh that falls apart faster than my overwrought metaphors. Coated in some seriously sickly sticky hoisin sauce it could be too much if it wasn’t for the simple earthy flavours of the brown rice and raw vegetables to ground it. A little shot of pickled ginger finishes it and me off nicely.

We also had an aubergine steak with tomato, herb and pomegranate bulgur wheat, tzatziki and pitta bread. It is a plate alive with colours and ideas built around an enormous wedge of seared aubergine heaped high with a most delightful coriander and cashew salsa. Both meals were generously portioned, particularly considering the very reasonable price.

Pud I mean, I’m pretty full at this point but my belt has another notch to go and my review has 100 more words to fill. The raw chocolate orange cheesecake is indulgent, dense and stick-to-the- roof-of-your-mouth good. I was a little disappointed by the brownie as I found it a little too brittle, I’m firmly of the opinion that a brownie should ooze and not crunch, but I recognise this is a personal preference. Crunchers, keep crunching.

Conclusion Many food menus end up being pretty boring or unimaginative because they work under the same tired assumptions around what constitutes a meal. Ethical considerations aside, by rejecting the conventional constructs of meat and two veg dishes imagination and culinary creativity can flourish. Wild Thyme should be a regular stop for any food lover, not just veggies and vegans looking for a little much needed choice. The meals are tasty, attractive and well-priced; the chefs certainly haven’t laboured in vain.

Words James McDonald



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