Thyme to eat
Semi-upscale food at a casual dining price is what Derek and Shari Olson of Harvest Thyme Bistro expect diners to find at their new restaurant located in the Mall of Wadena (formerly the Village Emporium).
The bistro is a unique dining experience for locals, the Olsons said, and features fresh local, organic ingredients.
Derek, the chef, doesn't use any processed or packaged food or meats.
"Everything is whole food or made from scratch right here in our kitchen," Shari said.
Derek makes his eggs Benedict using English muffins he made from scratch, a fresh Hollandaise sauce he makes each morning and organic eggs.
Fruit crepes for breakfast and a warm roasted squash and wild rice salad are some of the other offerings. The menu also features a daily local special that will change depending on what area farmers have available. Tuesday's daily special was an Acorn Farms goose confit with Minnesota wild rice and cranberries. Duck has also been featured. There is also a daily soup and sandwich special and a soup of the day.
Derek, 29, and Shari, 27, became involved with the bistro through Dave Evert, executive director of Stimulating Economic Progress. They met when Derek was doing cooking demonstrations at local farmers markets to help growers sell some produce and foods, Shari said. Dave had an idea and they started talking.
"We lived in Brainerd at the time so we said we would give it a try," she said.
They bought their first home in Wadena in June and moved to start the bistro.
Harvest Thyme Bistro has been a team effort among STEP, Prairie Rivers Kitchen and Del Moen, a local minister, Shari said. The restaurant is an opportunity the young couple wouldn't have been able to achieve without help.
Derek and Shari, who met while working as a waitress and kitchen manager at a Fargo diner, have three children, Jacob, 6, Aiden, 6 and Grace, 2. Shari is a licensed practical nurse, but now does the marketing for the bistro along with being a waitress and barista. The bistro serves specialty coffee drinks made from organic, free-trade coffee beans.
The restaurant opened for business on Nov. 27 and was met with rave reviews from Cora and Ray Meinhardt who enjoyed a fruit crepe and Italian frittata for breakfast that morning.
"It's got class," Cora said about the bistro.
Chris Klein of Klein Insurance in Eagle Bend stopped in Tuesday morning to pick up a daily special to heat up for lunch. He plans to be a regular, he said. So far, he had stopped during his commute from northeast of New York Mills Friday and Monday as well.
"The food is just fantastic," Klein said. "You're just not going to get this food anywhere else in the area."
He likes that the produce is locally grown and supports the local economy and production, he said.
The bistro has a good list of farmers and they've been bringing in lots of stuff, Derek said.
Shari said they've been surprised at the turnout from farmers so far considering it's not the growing season.
"I think we're going to have a lot of fun spring and summer when we really have a lot of foods to choose from," she said.
Harvest Thyme Bistro will have its grand opening in January. They will also begin offering cooking classes one to two times a month in the evenings.
The bistro's hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. Diners can park in the city lot behind the Mall of Wadena, formerly the Village Emporium, and enter through the back entrance when the Mall is closed.
For more information or to call ahead with an order call (218) 632-5110. A menu is available at www.harvestthymebistro.com.