The Diner: Wild Thyme’s meat-free options will entice veggies and carnivores alike
- Credit: Archant
Vegetarianism, and even veganism, has been going mainstream for a while.
Most restaurants worth their salt have more than just a veggie dish tacked on at the bottom of the menu and meat-free Mondays is becoming a common industry phrase for the start of the week.
So expect more gems such as Wild Thyme to spring up like the shoots they serve.
The cool, open venue has been a popular spot for herbivores since 2013 but carnivores will find there is plenty to whet the appetite.
It was early on a Saturday evening that we gave it a go, just as the city's nightlife was rolling out of bed.
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Located just off Norwich's bustling market place the restaurant enjoys a calm and informal atmosphere, with wooden beams and quirky, although mostly modern, décor.
There is a contrast between the rustic floors and the bright lights combined with a few stranger items - including a bicycle which hangs next to the stairs.
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Having put up with the one meat-free pasta dish for most of my life, Wild Thyme's flexible menu was a refreshing contemporary mixture of well-done favourites and exciting ideas, including the jackfruit 'crabcakes' which instantly leapt out.
Despite its popularity the restaurant's prices are very reasonable with most starters in the £5 to £6 range and none of the mains touching £10.
In the end, forgetting flirtations with veganism, I plumped for the rosemary roast baby beets, heritage tomato and puy lentil salad which came with a succulent soft goats cheese.
Combined with the sweet beets and the meaty tomato I could have happily made a meal of it (which is an option with a number of the starters).
To follow, I went for baked avocado served with a variety of sauces, dips and pitta bread, while my companions opted for a sweet potato burger and a paella.
I'm a bit of a sucker for middle-eastern dining, subtle flavours and getting stuck in with your hands. The smoky baba ganoush was easily the highlight of the dish, though the whole combination worked well. Toasted pumpkin seeds and harissa added needed crunch and spice to the saucy number.
I will confess I was slightly jealous of the colourful vegetable paella, with golden saffron rice and a thick olive tapenade to top.
One of the things I really liked about the food is that it doesn't try to be something it's not.
There's no attempt to give a vegetarian twist to a meaty classic and each dish can stand up on its own.
While I don't have a sweet tooth, and if I am honest I was stuffed, we went for the vegan chocolate orange cheesecake.
Despite normally declining the third course I do love a good cheesecake and while this effort was certainly nice it didn't quite hit the spot for me.
The coconut flavour was slightly overbearing and I couldn't detect much in the way of orange.
That said, I would probably give it a try again to see if it was me rather than the pudding.
Wild Thyme has breakfast-cum-brunch and lunch menus which also look delicious and, while we didn't try the wine, the beer list was different and very refreshing, complimenting the food and the feel of the venue.
I was expecting to enjoy the restaurant and it did not let me down. It's always a good sign when a meat eater says the food could convert them, which one of my friends said half way through his starter.
Although it sells itself as a veggie option, no-one should miss out on the opportunity to try such lovely food and I will definitely be back soon.
Wild Thyme can be found at The Old Fire Station Stables, Labour in Vain Yard, NR21JD.