Food & Drink » Food & Wine

In With the New

Dishing about Thyme and the Villa.


Located in the former Jarrett's site, Thyme Bistro opened recently and offers continental fare at affordable prices. "I want this to be a neighborhood restaurant," says owner Rick Saviori, "a place people can come to once or twice a week."

Saviori, a former chef at Ciao Bella,says he pounced on the opportunity toopen a restaurant in this location. While Jarrett's was a beloved fine-dining spot in Memphis, it became a place for special occasions” something Saviori wants to avoid. He has set lunch prices at $12 or less and dinner at $20 or less. Wines max out at $35.

Few changes were made to the layout of the restaurant. Dining rooms still fan out from the bar area, and two banquet rooms are situated off to the side of the restaurant. (Saviori says he will hold off using the banquet rooms until July or August, once the operation settles in.)

A pleasant patio area (that many may not have known existed at Jarrett's) is perfect for Thyme's spring opening. Saviori trimmed back some of the foliage, planted an herb garden, and hung up lights. Trees and adjacent buildings offer the right balance of shade and light, an enticement for al fresco diners.

The menu offers a variety of styles and influences: Spanish deviled eggs with shrimp and roasted red peppers, pasta Bolognese with house-made pasta, to beef brisket hash with tomatillo sauce. The restaurant also has pizzas and a basic kid's menu.

The lunch offerings are pared-down versions of the dinner menu, with smaller pizzas and sandwiches and salads. Check out the Thyme burger, topped with baby spinach, Muenster cheese, fried green tomato, and roasted garlic aioli.

Thyme Bistro is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.

Thyme Bistro, 5689 Quince (552-4907)

The Villa has a story similar to Thyme's. Owners Bill and Carla Baker (also owners of Bayou Bar and Grill) have transitioned from the more expensive and upscale Le Chardonnay to the Villa,a more affordable and relaxed Italian restaurant. The days of French cuisine in the dark, intimate Le Chardonnay are over, but the slightly brighter space suits the new concept: more family-friendly lunch and dinner and a bar worthy of late-night crowds.

Entre's at Le Chardonnay ran from $20 to $25; at the Villa, lunch comes in under $14 and dinner under $16. That's not the only difference. An expanded bar offers more casual seating. The pizzas and calzones made in the wood-fired oven are now made with fresh, housemade dough. And, of course, the menu now offers distinctly Italian cuisine.

Chef Steven Robilio is using family recipes for the Bolognese and has a ravioli recipe that he says is around 110 years old. He uses Neola Farms beef for the meatballs, hamburgers, and Bolognese sauce, and he visits the farmers market at the Botanic Garden once a week. Another local touch, and one that seems to be a trend in area restaurants, is the art for sale on the walls, provided by local artists Judy Vandergrift and Jennifer Hyatt.

The Villa has an outdoor patio and a happy hour every day from 4 to 7 p.m., with $1 off beer, wine, and liquor. They are open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday through Thursday for dinner from 5 to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.

The Villa, 2094 Madison (725-1375)

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