okgourmet.com    Home of Steve's Restaurant Reviews

Thyme Matters

5857 N. Mesa St.
El Paso, TX
(915) 585-0309

Thyme Matters offers a dining room, outdoor patio, take-out, and space upstairs for private parties

Thyme Matters has been transformed from its original take-out and catering business with a few small tables to an upscale restaurant that has become quite a popular dining spot. The menu has also been expanded quite a bit, specializing in "soups, salads, paninis, pasta, entrées, and homemade dessert." The entrées include flank steak, chicken with artichoke hearts, and roasted salmon. The meat entrées are quite expensive, by the way, and I am not sure I would ever be in enough of a mood for a large serving of meat to order one of these dishes.

My tastes run more toward pasta dishes that serve a moderate amount of meat or no meat at all. Three Cheese Baked Rigatoni, a meatless pasta dish with ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese, was good, but I would not describe it as great Italian food. Even on this dish a meat sauce is available, but I am not sure meat would add anything to the flavor, with the marinara sauce being of very good quality.

Penne Rustica has been the best item I have tried at Thyme Matters, but it is not listed on the latest menu (as of 2007). This was a pasta dish with a delicious homemade marinara sauce and chunks of fresh mozarella. Although the menu said it came with grilled zucchini, I think this was false advertisement since I only got a couple of very thin slices. I am a huge vegetable lover, and the lack of zucchini made it less satisfying than it would otherwise have been. Still, it had a great flavor and I have yet to try anything else at Thyme Matters that I liked as well as this dish.

Linguini is a vegetarian pasta dish that can also be served with chicken or shrimp. I ordered the chicken version, and as I expected the grilled white meat chicken was excellent, and turned out to be the highlight of the meal. The sweet basil cream sauce on the linguini gave this dish a much better flavor than I normally experience with linguini, but with the large amount of garlic and the kind of "over the top" cream sauce it started to be too heavy of a dish for me by the time I was close to finishing it. The toasted pine nuts were good, the bread was good, and overall the meal was good. In the future, though, I think dishes with Thyme Matters' delicious marinara sauce will be a better choice.

Shaghetti Bolognese is another pasta dish offered, but I was surprised by the large amount of ground beef and pork served with the spaghetti. The "homemade four hour simmered sauce with root vegetables" was the highlight of the dish, and definitely made the flavor better than would be found at other restaurants. However, I thought the meat was over-spiced and I definitely did not care as much for it as similar dishes I have tried in Oklahoma. I think if they would change the meat I would like this dish a lot more. I need to divulge to the reader, though, that I went totally without meat for a number of years and it is still rather hard to impress me with a meat dish unless it is of superior quality.

Other than the pasta dishes, you just about have to stick to the salads or the veggie sandwich to find any non-meat items. The Grilled Veggie Sandwich, containing grilled eggplant, zucchini, and swiss cheese, was good on an occasion when I did not have a very substantial appetite. The fruit salad and potato chips that came with it were almost as good as the sandwich iteself.

The Sautéed Chicken with Artichoke Hearts was an example of both meat and vegetables that left me impressed. Consisting of a chicken breast served in a white wine sauce, I thought the highlight was the artichoke (but the chicken was good as well). Some of the vegetarian dishes tend to be less than filling, so I would say ordering this as a meat item would be a good choice when a more substantial meal is desired.

The lack of vegetables with the dinners is really my main complaint with Thyme Matters. The large meat plates have varying amounts of vegetables, but I think most of the pasta dishes could use something on the side. It seems to be expected that diners will order a soup or salad with the meal, but it should be noted that the prices for appetizers and salads are quite high.

It may be that my view of Thyme Matters is skewed since I have mainly tried the Italian side of the menu. The American entrées tend to consist of large portions of meat, with some sandwiches and salads available for less substantial meals. So far every meal at Thyme Matters has had some aspects that I liked and some that I thought could be improved. The trouble is that at the prices that are charged I would be expecting a meal that was just about perfect. Still, I would have to say that most of what I have tried has been very good.



Cuisine: American & Italian
Cost: $$$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: No
Smoking: No Smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine, Bar
Special Features: Outdoor Patio

Most Recent Visit
Jul. 9, 2007

Number of Visits: 6

Best Item
Penne Rustica

Special Ratings
Penne Rustica:
Sautéed Chicken:
Grilled Veggie Sandwich:
Spaghetti Bolognese:
Three Cheese Baked Rigatoni:

Restaurant Web Site
Thyme Matters