Back in Thyme Herb Farm and Kitchen is not your typical restaurant – the tables are limited, the atmosphere is intimate and homey, and the food is handcrafted and astoundingly fresh. “It’s really more of a farm and product experiment station,” owner and chef Marne McNamara explained.” Back in Thyme opened in 2013, but in many ways the grand event had been in the works for decades prior. More than a restaurant, more than a farm, more than a place for delicious experiments, Marne feels that Back in Thyme is the culmination of her life’s work and experiences.
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Marne is originally from Connecticut, where she grew up amidst generations of farmers and restaurateurs and learned that she loved to cook at the age of just four. Out of high school, she began work as a secretary for cargo expeditors and worked her way up the corporate ladder there. Eventually, though, she started to realize that more than a decade of high stress office work was taking a toll and she wanted to get back to her roots, literally and figuratively. Working as a gardener and as a chef’s assistant for the next couple of decades and eventually making the move to Rhode Island, Marne continued to improve both her green thumb and hone her culinary skills.
“I didn’t receive any formal education in cooking, so I just choose the most beautiful ingredients I can find and base everything off of my own experience,” she shared. “Italian cuisine was my primary influence when I worked as a chef’s assistant, but every nationality is represented here. I serve the whole world.”
The herbs used in Marne’s recipes are hers, grown out back in the garden, while other ingredients are found in nearby farmers’ markets or wholesalers, such as Wyoming Produce, going from farm and table quickly in small batches made with care. “I shop four times a week and start cooking right away. Nothing can stop me from finding the finest ingredients, the best of everything from everywhere.”
New items and specialties find their way on to the menu based on the season and which ingredients are the most inspiring to Marne each day. Of course, however, there is a permanent menu for customers to rely on, consisting of meat, potatoes, green beans, and roasted vegetables, along with home baked pies and cakes made by Marne’s own daughter. “Consistency is so important. People want what they want,” Marne explained. “They’ll come in and say ‘I had this delicious chicken last week, do you still have it?’ And I say ‘Yes, ma’am, I do.'”
Open Thursday through Sunday from 9am to 9pm, Back in Thyme also offers wonderful breakfast items, such as a savory meatloaf with eggs made over-easy and home fries, and a roasted vegetable omelet with chickpea and spinach ragù. Rounding out the menu are low-sugar, high-flavor muffins made with fresh fruit and hand-ground spices that replace much of the salt and sugar found in other baked goods, and lots of egg dishes like quiche and casseroles available by the slice. Customers can choose from a variety of beverages as well, including tea, chai, and Green Goddess smoothies. They also offer special holiday menus and take-out side dishes for anyone looking to cut down on their own time in the kitchen, or have a little culinary celebration of their own.
Located a little off the beaten path, not far off Exit 1, Marne’s food and the unique atmosphere she’s cultivated still manages to draw customers come from all over the world, based on the power of her five star reviews on social media and other customers’ word of mouth recommendations. When asked what sets her apart and makes Back in Thyme worth the trip, she cites freshness, consistency, and everyone’s favorite magic ingredient – love. “I love this. I love people, I love what I do, I love the interactions, being able to work and talk to customers at the same time. I don’t feel isolated here. This is a rural area, very countrified, and this is a great way to meet people in the community.”
The future is looking bright for Marne and her family, as they plan to expand the herb garden in the spring, offering an even greater selection of herbs to customers. Weatherproof outdoor seating will be offered as well, along with activities for children to partake in while their parents eat.
“You’ll be healthier by eating with me,” Marne believes. What better way to celebrate a new year than with healthy and delicious food? Be sure to stop by Back in Thyme Herb Farm and Kitchen soon!