Mum quits BT to have baby then wants something ‘less stressful’ - and buys a restaurant
Bawtry is a bit special, so is Ciara Bolton.
The town was once one of the busiest inland ports in England, shipping wool, lead, tools and millstones along the River Idle to the Trent and on to Europe and London.
Bawtry also boasts the spectacularly evocative address of Number One, Yorkshire on its fine streets.
Ciara gave up her BT sales job to have son Ben four years ago and then decided she wanted to go into a stress-free job.
So she bought a restaurant.
Not any restaurant but Thyme in Swan Street, Bawtry – now a town of high-end fashion, jewellers, bars, beautiful historic buildings and a good few eateries.
We arrive in the dead of January on a freezing Thursday night but business is fairly brisk.
We are warmly greeted by Ciara who took over the restaurant in March last year.
So how has it been?
“So far it’s been brilliant but it’s been harder than I thought it would be,” said the 34-year-old mother of two.
“The background work – paper work, finding the best prices for everything, the things I didn’t think about – has been a lot more effort than I thought it would be.
“It has been stressful but so, so enjoyable.
“Kirsty Jarvis is my manageress who is a massive support to me. We met at cake school years ago. We always planned to work together.
“We introduced afternoon teas three days a week and they have been a massive hit. That’s what I wanted to do originally and no-one else was doing it in Bawtry – though I think they are now.
“I was inspired to have a tearoom by my nana Lily. We did baking together when I was little and she always wanted a tearoom.
“She was from Northern Ireland as I am. I moved over here with my family when I was six or seven and grew up in Bessacarr.”
The restaurant is modern British and looks modern British in décor – a little flock wallpaper, white walls, wooden floors and a trendy jumble of eclectic furniture.
The menu is encouragingly small. For starter I chose the Scotch egg with mustard mayonnaise, sauteed black pudding and pea shoots, my wife chooses Chicken terrine with poached pear and toast.
The scotch egg is fantastic. Lovely Cumberland sausage meat, a slightly runny egg inside and a crisp shell. It also comes with chunks of crispy black pudding which is some of the best I’ve tasted and the mustard mayonnaise complements it beautifully. It’s a simple, stunning and very satisfying start.
Karen’s chicken terrine perhaps was a little too subtle and needed a kick of extra flavour but the texture was good, the pear delicious and a pear puree set it all off nicely.
Around the corner from our window seat ladies who lunch are proving that they also dinner. Strawberry blonde heads in an intimate conversational huddle, chatting animatedly over lattes and dessert. The place feels good.
For my main course I have roast cod with roast onion and caper sauce, baby fennel and crispy chicken skin. Karen has a dish called plated pig: slow cooked belly pork, Parma ham-wrapped tenderloin, braised cheek with fondant potato, apple puree, mini toffee apple and red wine sauce.
I chose chips to go with my cod instead of the mash on the menu. Wise choice. They are sensational.
Chunky, deep brown in colour and with areas of sheer crunch where the potato has started to break down on it s third layer of cooking. Delicious.
The cod is good but I didn’t find any evidence of crispy skin - cod or chicken. But the fish is nicely cooked, fresh, flakey and meaty.
The roast onion is sweet and soft, the fennel crisp and the sauce buttery and savoury.
“We were going to call the pork dish trio of pork but we have a duo of venison so went for something bolder with Plated Pig,” says Ciara.
“People seem to like it.” Karen liked it a lot, really flavoursome meat, fatty, crunchy belly, tender loin and some imaginative accompaniments.
For dessert and after much negotiation, Karen had Belgium chocolate delice served with orange sorbet, honeycomb and Cointreau jelly and I went for the warm Bakewell tart, with almond ice cream, strawberries and almond macaroons. Both looked and tasted sensational.
My Bakewell tart, made by chef Billy Frost - as is everything else on the menu apparently - is first class, with a hit of almonds – rich, light and puddingy.
The ice cream is a delight and the macaroons intense and crunchy. It’s lovely stuff, as is the rich chocolate delice, dark and dangerously chocolatey. The honeycomb is great fun, adds texture, the sorbet was tangy and lovely. All in all though very enjoyable.
“Bawtry is a lovely little town and I think it’s a bonus with us being off the main road,” adds Ciara.
“We are away from the hustle and bustle and the weekend drinkers. We see that as a bonus.
“January is always quiet but last year was good and the run up to Christmas was crazy. I just wasn’t aware of how busy it would get.”
She is now. Bawtry is a bit special.
For three courses and a large glass of decent sauvignon blanc our bill came to £61.45
Star rating out 5:
* Food: 4
* Atmosphere: 4
* Service: 5
* Value: 4
Thyme, 2 Swan Street, Bawtry, DN10 6JQ. Tel:01302 719003
Website: Thyme, Bawtry
Open: Tuesday and Wednesday 6pm-11pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday noon-3pm and 6pm-11pm. Sunday and Monday closed.