Ok, this is a tricky one, but not because there’s a problem with the food and certainly not with the service. The problem is entirely mine and it’s trying to get past the Stockbridge stereotypes that populate this great little bistro/deli and concentrate on the food.
Maybe it was the fact that it was the first day of opening after New Year and that the rump end of the holiday period was still lingering but there seemed to be more than the usual number of 4×4’s, expensive wellies (no, not Hunters. the Aigle ones at £290 a pop) and little Cosmos and Cressidas enjoying their last family lunch before being placed lovingly on the steam train back to pre-prep until Easter, adding to the crowd of well-heeled locals who have made Thyme & Tides the busiest of Stockbridge’s many well-regarded dining rooms.
With such a clientele comes an expectation of high standards and it certainly seems that the Thyme and Tides team are doing enough things right to generate this level of business in such a competitive “foodie” destination. Indeed, even on weekdays, the queue around lunchtime can stretch out of the door for those who haven’t had the foresight to book ahead but today, a 10 minute wait following a friendly welcome and explanation of the expected wait time allows for a quick browse of the accompanying interestingly-stocked deli before being seated.
The dining room itself is bright and stylish in a “tastefully neutral” way with acoustics that suffer a little in a space with so many hard surfaces but any lull in conversation simply provides an opportunity for some more people watching and my companion and I pass the time trying to spot who’s eccentrically local and who’s “down from London” for the holidays.
Service is quick, attentive and professional as would be expected from a bistro who’s proprietor comes from a background of running a consultancy for failing bistros. Staff are clearly well-drilled, know the content of the menu well and even on a day with limited choices due to the New Year reopening, there’s plenty of options based on good quality, mainly locally-sourced ingredients.
For a light(ish) lunch, my choice was the buffalo burger with bacon and cheese with a side order of fries. The buffalo is local enough to have joined the queue of it’s own accord having come from the Broughton Water Buffalo people in the next village and makes for a great burger served nicely medium rare. Being so lazy and having taken almost 2 weeks to write up my visit, my memory of just exactly what else was on that burger is pretty hazy but I remember that it was definitely good, in fact very good indeed.
Being unable to leave without testing out Barista Will’s highly rated coffee, I finished off with an Americano and a decent chunk of Millionaire’s Shortbread, again locally made and leaving me with no complaints. This is much more than a coffee and cake kind of place but for those who want nothing more, they do it very well.
I wish I’d written this up more quickly now, I wish I’d taken notes and I wish I’d taken a couple of pictures too because Thyme & Tides deserves better than a quickly dashed out write up of a poorly remembered lunchtime visit. But on the bright side, I guess that gives me an excuse to make another visit sometime soon.
I’ll look forward to it………