A night at Bottle & Thyme

Relax with Botanical cocktails and a great new menu.
When Gavin Grainger from Bottle & Thyme invited us down to try their new evening menu we jumped at the chance and weren’t disappointed.

We’ve been in a number of times and enjoyed the food and ambiance of their cafe, restaurant and bar. It’s a place that’s open all day and that morphs and changes as the day progresses and the clientele come and go.

In the morning it’s a chilled place for a breakfast or brunch, they serve a lunchtime menu, coffees, teas and cake throughout the day, serve two for £10 cocktails early evening (3 to 7pm excl Sat) and as they run into their evening meal menu diners take up residence and the bar is the perfect place to pop in for a drink.

There are a small number of places in Chesterfield where I’d feel comfortable eating or drinking on my own, this is probably one of them. What’s strange about this small selection is they are all independently run and owned businesses.

The staff are friendly and attentive, there’s no pretentiousness, the music is at a comfortable volume – loud enough to hear but quiet enough that you can have a private conversation without feeling overheard or low enough that you can continue that conversation.

Gav explained “this is deliberate, even when we have live music playing on a Friday and Saturday night it’s quiet enough that people continue their conversations. We quite often find that when we switch to the live music people don’t realise for a while, it’s background music aimed to enhance the evening, it’s not the main focus.”

The drinks menu is interesting and varied described as fine wine, craft beers, botanical cocktails and soft drinks. You can literally get your five a day just from the drinks – fig liqueurs, rhubarb gins, drinks served with rosemary, pineapple rums, served beautifully, perhaps also containing fruit and flowers… even the beers aren’t left out, pineapple, elderflower flavours to name just two.

We sampled, for starters, crab parcels with sweet chilli and mango salsa, and pastrami croquettes, rocket, parmesan and wholegrain mustard mayo – both delicious and light. I don’t enjoy eating out to simply refuel, I can do that at home, if I’m paying for a meal I want it to be special and something I wouldn’t or couldn’t prepare to the same standard.

All their food is cooked fresh every time, Jake is the head chef, who Gav described as a star. He’s worked his way up from simply joining the kitchen team over a year ago and clearly loves to cook. Gav’s influence on the menu is growing too, his experiments at home with fruit gins are also likely to make an appearance in the bar soon.

For the main we had seared salmon, asparagus on a bed of gnocchi tossed in beetroot butter with a lemon emulsion, and halloumi and chilli skewers with courgette, red pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes & sweet chilli dip with sweet potato fries. Again, both delicious and from the new menu, we felt a bit like we were road testing but can whole heartedly recommend both.

The menu is extensive but not overly huge, we could have had anything from a selection of mains, steak and chips, pork cheek, summer risotto, a selection of salads and burgers, skewers, sharing boards and a great looking list of sweets although we skipped sweets and opted for another drink! The menu does include something for everyone.

You’ll find Bottle & Thyme opposite the old Co-op building, which is rapidly being transformed into Chesterfield’s Premier Inn, due to open later this year with bars and restaurants in prime position at street level.

Gavin and Hannah opened Bottle & Thyme in December 2016, their surroundings and neighbours a little rundown but soon to reopen with new tenants and all spruced up and looking like a small slice of Chester with a Black & White Tudor styled street scene.

The whole area is undergoing a facelift, just a few steps from Stephenson Place where we featured three businesses in the last edition, and Bottle & Thyme is ideally placed to take advantage of it.

“Many of our customers are people who would typically eat out of town” adds Gav. “If you enjoy Chatsworth road in the evening … Bottle & Thyme would make an excellent addition to your available options” and I have to agree with him.

Their hard work has already been rewarded with Bottle & Thyme taking Best Newcomer and Best Customer Service at the 2017 Chesterfield Food & Drink awards and being nominated for Restaurant of the Year and Best Customer Service for this year’s awards that take place in October.

If you’ve not yet tried Bottle & Thyme, we recommend that you do and you’d better be quick as once the other businesses open along Knifesmithgate you could find it difficult to get a space!

I’ve known Gav for a while now and it’s great to see him enjoying running his own business, I know this was always his goal and Bottle & Thyme has quickly become another of Chesterfield’s excellent locations.

PS: Perhaps give them a try on Wednesday … Wine Down Wednesdays gets you a Carafe of wine, accompanied with tasters for £8 with free wine sample on arrival and complementing menu specials.

Bottle & Thyme
15-17 Knifesmithgate
Chesterfield S40 1RL
T: 01246 768283

Words: Paul Chapman
Images: B&T Facebook page