These days when I look for a nice place to eat, I look for two things first and foremost.
What it’s like inside and the variety of dishes on the menu. Pretty obvious stuff really.
When I find a restaurant I’ve not been to before there’s the obligatory google search for reviews (you don’t want to go anywhere that’s been panned by other diners) followed by a long debate with the other half, which I usually lose.
So it can become a complicated process.
But when I suggested Thyme and Plaice on Wigan Road, I was , surprisingly, met with an enthusiastic nod and a “ooh yeah, I’ve heard it’s nice in there.”
So that was settled.
Thyme and Plaice is a family owned restaurant which used to be the Grey Horse pub in Coppull.
Offering an A la Carte menu and mid-week market menu at very reasonable prices, it really is a relatively hidden gem.
I say relatively hidden because it’s not in the best of spots on a busy road and a place you could quite easily miss if you weren’t looking for it.
But it does have a decent-sized car park to the side and once you’re inside you can’t hear any passing traffic. In fact, it’s nice and cosy.
It’s not the biggest of eateries – there’s a small bar in-between a lounge/waiting area and the main dining room, which caters for around 30 people maximum.
So booking in advance is always advisable.
A hungry colleague of mine recently wrote on this page that he had to wait 50 minutes to place his order at the restaurant he was reviewing. At Thyme and Plaice we waited 15 minutes, which in my opinion is acceptable, especially if you are sinking ice-cold bottles of beer.
There are two menus to choose from on the weekend; the main menu and the evening special which consists of an array of delightful sounding dishes – three courses for £18.95. I’m a sucker for pate so plumped for the chicken liver parfait with onion marmalade and toast for starters, followed by braised lamb shank, bubble & squeak, carrots and jus; and my other half, Natalie, chose the potted ham hock with pickles and toast followed by the sirloin steak with bubble & squeak, mushroom and tomato.
The food was quick to arrive and the sound of rapidly moving cutlery accompanied by “mmmm” on several occasions tells you all you need to know. Delicious.
Sometimes you can be left with a good-sized blob of pate due to the inadequate number of accompanying pieces of toast. Not so here. There were plenty.
The ham hock my fellow diner said was “gorgeous” and she’s a hard woman to please!
So ... good start.
Our mains came in good time too, just enough to allow our starters to settle and was equally delicious.
My lamb was a whopping great shank with loads of meat on it and Natalie’s steak was cooked just how she likes it and “really, really good.”
The bubble & squeak we both agreed was delicious. In fact we were hard-pressed to find anything wrong.
And believe me, we take our dining experiences very seriously.
So much so we have our own points system which sees us deduct points from a starting total of 10 for various things such as courteousness of staff, over-mithering, price, display of table etc.
The long winter nights just fly by in our house.
After a fine dessert of vanilla creme brulee for us both – again which we both thoroughly enjoyed, it was time for us to tackle our ingenious (if not a little nerdy) home-made points system.
After very little debate, because it was all so nice, we settled on a score of nine.
A point was deducted because the waitress kept having to squeeze past me to put Natalie’s food on the table.
It was either that or pass it to me to pass over.
That aside we were more than happy and would definitely go again.
I was utterly full to bursting and needed a lie down when I got home, but that could have been the five or six bottles of beer I had to accompany my meal. Hic.