One of the city’s newest eateries – situated in Church Lane – is already enjoying a thriving breakfast and lunchtime trade thanks to chef Tony Rice’s passion for maintaining Thyme’s ethos of delivering fresh, local produce made in-house.
We went down to investigate. Here’s our twelve key reasons why we’ll be making sure to frequent Thyme Deli (even) more often in the future.
1. The Location
After launching the original Thyme Deli with his business partner in Andersontown, chef Tony Rice has gone out on his own to bring the delicious delicatessen to the city centre. He explained:
“I knew it would work well in the city centre. We get a lot of regular business customers who come in for lunch, as well as a few new faces on Saturday at lunch times who are enjoying an afternoon of shopping.”
Situated in the convenient location of Church Lane – it’s just off one of Belfast’s busiest shopping streets and opposite popular gin palace Muriels.
2. Local Ingredients
Fans of local supporting local will appreciate that not only does Tony ensure that all of his ingredients are locally sourced, but he also makes great use of other Belfast businesses.
Renowned Jeffers Bakery delivers freshly baked bread every morning – just one of the reasons behind why we love these epic sandwiches. That’s why we included them in our 16 Of The Best Sandwich Shops In Belfast.
If you’re wondering what Tony’s Must-Try is: check out the Buffalo Chicken Wrap, with smoked cheese, salad and home-made Southwest sauce (£4.95):
“It’s a wee bit different – not everywhere would do it! You wouldn’t get it in your typical sandwich shop – it’s delicious!”
3. The Restaurant
Set in cosy, yet spacious premises decorated by wonderful artwork by Off The Wall Creations showcasing Belfast’s most famous landmarks, the refreshingly modern fit-out makes Thyme Deli a fantastic foodie experience in a comfortable, vibrant setting.
Diners will love spotting local stand-outs associated with our wee city, including that Big Fish; the gorgeous Belfast Castle; and the impressive Albert Clock and City Hall – to name just a few.
“You won’t get too many restaurants that look like this!” Tony laughs.
Meanwhile, the impressive deli counter is carefully laid out to showcase all of the local fresh produce Thyme has on offer.
4. Everything’s Made FRESH To Order
As a chef of 17 years, Tony explained he wanted to offer fresh food in the city centre for those wanting tasty food created in-house and made to order.
Being in the trade made him realise how many restaurants buy their stock in, rather than creating it themselves:
“We make everything fresh. All of our chickens are fresh, we cook our own meats. The turkey and ham are all cooked here. Whereas a lot of businesses buy them in.
“We even make all of our own sauces and dressings, from Chilli sauces to our amazing Southwest sauce!”
5. The Friendly EXPERT Staff
Personable Tony himself explained that whilst he’d love to expand Thyme Deli further, he believes what sets his restaurant apart is that he himself is always there – making the food, supervising his friendly staff and upholding the standards that made Thyme Deli so popular in Andersontown.
Having worked as Head Chef for years with the likes of renowned restaurants Shu and The Ivory on his CV, it is understandable that Tony wishes to showcase his expert ability and maintain the high standards Thyme has become so renowned for. Tony believes this is what helps set Thyme Deli apart and he justifiably wishes to continue the strong reputation for delivering excellent quality, fresh, local food.
6. The Impressive Menu
With his experience working as Head Chef in some of our best restaurants, Tony and his business partner began to realise that there was a lack of quality places to go for lunch in Belfast.
“There was never anywhere to go for lunch that offered fresh food. There were only ever greasy spoons.”
That’s when they decided to devise Thyme, concentrating on a menu delivering fresh, vibrant, good quality local produce.
And it more than delivers – with one of the most impressive menus we’ve seen for a while in Belfast.
7. Burger Lover’s Paradise
Our firm stand-outs from the menu, we believe these epic burgers deserve a shout out all of their own.
Because of the association with deli’s and sandwiches, you’d be forgiven for perhaps not realising that Thyme dishes up INCREDIBLE burgers. In fact, Tony adds that they have recently become one of the most popular requests.
We can’t say we’re surprised. Indeed it would be hard not to lust after these made to order burgers – made from beef or authentic Southern Fried Chicken.
We’re particularly incredulous at the price too. For just £4.95 you could be prancing out of the restaurant having destroyed a beef burger complete with bacon, smoked cheese, caramelised onion & salad.
8. A Proper Breakfast – At Last
Thyme Deli not only also produces fantastic burgers of epic proportions – but they do a particularly spectacular Breakfast Menu.
Open from an impressive 7.30am, breakfast highlights naturally include the Large Fry. Consisting of a butcher style pork sausage, bacon, potato bread, soda bread, tomato, egg, black pudding, mushrooms and hash brown all for £5.25 and free tea or coffee before 12 noon. We reckon that’ll help wake you up!
Breakfast also features local favourites from the Full Soda and Bacon or Sausage Sandwich.
Pancakes with Bacon & Maple Syrup or with Bacon and Eggs are particularly popular:
“The homemade pancakes are so popular at the minute! Particularly since Pancake Tuesday which customers loved! We were really busy with quite a few different options on the menu this year.”
9. Coffee Done Right
Local man Jarleth Storey of Judes Estate supplies coffee from his own roastery.
Tony explains: “Jarleth is so passionate about coffee after training in a roastery (making the beans) in Australia!
“But when he came back to Belfast – everyone was doing it differently over here! So he now has his own roastery over here making it to his own specific roast recipe!
“So he set up on his own and now supplies about 60 outlets in the north so far. He comes in himself and actually trains all the staff in how he wants it to be made – so they are experts in making coffee too!”
10. Meal Deals & Promos
Everyone loves a bargain, especially when it comes to a lunch time meal deal. Tony added:
“We try to get it in and around the fiver mark – when people get their entire lunch including drink for a fiver – it makes a huge difference! Especially in the city centre.”
True that. Indeed, that’s why we love the type of deals Tony throws on, such as if you spend a fiver on a hot wrap or panini you’ll get your drink for free.
11. Daily Specials
Like this – pulled lamb, salad, and Southwest sauce burger. Need we say more?
12. Tons Of Healthy Options
With loads of healthy options on the menu, Tony is an expert in the best options from the menu if you’re in a battle with the bulge!
But he’s also happy to cater for any specific dietary requests:
“If people want a healthier option we have some great meals already on offer – from the Healthy Breakfast with poached or scrambled eggs, toasted wheaten & salad.
“Or for lunch I’d suggest the salads – they are naturally healthier and if you want – you can even go without cheese!”
Thyme Deli is open Mon- Fri from 7.30am – 4.30pm, and until 5pm on Saturday’s. Follow Thyme Deli on Facebook here for daily updates on specials and offers.