Warm interior. Friendly staff. Wholesome food. Ciao Thyme. After catering in the community for years, Jessica and Mataio Gillis opened their café, Ciao Thyme, in September of 2012. “Our mission has always been to bring people together through shared meals,” Jessica said. “Ciao Thyme is special because the food is cared for from farm to table and guests are encouraged to enjoy it with friends, neighbors and whoever they find sitting near them at our family style tables that day.”
One of the great beauties of Ciao Thyme is in the simplicity of the menus. There are two menu options, each with three coordinating dishes. Patrons can either order a dish individually or choose an entire menu for $20. For those with lighter appetites, a menu is even enough for two people to share. Jessica said the staff works as a team to create the menu each month, using inspiration from seasonal ingredients, cookbooks, magazines and old favorite recipes. They try to source as many of the ingredients locally as possible. Collectively, most of what the kitchen uses is organic and free-range. Jessica and Mataio’s fiscal goal is to leave as much of the revenue in the community as possible.
Once my eating cohort and I ordered, we took a seat at one of the long communal tables. The open kitchen was bustling and chatter of the lunch rush filled the room. Soon after diving into conversation of our own, our tray of dishes arrived. Not only is the presentation intricately stunning, the food is a wonderful combination of complex and simple.
The salad had pieces of pulled chicken, swimming in its own juices at the bottom of a wide bowl and flourishing with a heaping portion of kale. It was topped with bright citrus, crunchy-sweet pieces of seed candy and large cubes of paneer, a mellow cheese typically found in South Asian cuisine. Though seemingly simple, the layered flavors developed, offering promise with each bite.
Without a doubt the highlight of the meal was the warm flatbread and roasted vegetable hummus. It was packed with a surprising amount of flavor from the golden beet-carrot and citrus marmalade and creaminess from the goat labneh, a fresh cheese made of goat’s milk. Sweet. Earthy. Velvety.
Visit Ciao Thyme for a weekday lunch and revel in food inspired by the Northwest.
207 Unity St., Bellingham