Short Order: Beef Shawarma at Olive & Thyme
Panera is fine. Good, even, when it comes to something like a cinnamon twist. Beyond the edibles, its emptied structural shell has made an excellent, spacious home for a new project in Clintonville: Olive & Thyme. Space is, of course, unduly popular during these endless pandemic days, and the particularly giant shell of the former High Street Panera in Clintonville allows for lots and lots of seating far, far away from other diners.
While thyme is a pretty universal herb, the reference to olives in the eatery’s name might tip you off to the cuisine it offers: Mediterranean. And if the name doesn’t make it evident, one step inside will tell the rest of the story. The shelves that once held Panera cookies and cinnamon rolls now might hold something on the lines of baklava, bargain-priced Zatar, or a cheese-covered pastry.
But we’re here for something a little more substantial: Beef Shawarma, for a carryout order. It’s a pita sandwich, but unique in execution, first, because the pita is toasted crisp. It exchanges the pillowy pita characteristics more often seen for a crackling shell that lets the filling shine.
In this case, the pita holds a slew of quality, sliced beef. While processed sausage (more ubiquitous in the Columbus pita scene) is good, there’s no denying the quality of fresh-sliced, tender, natural beef at Olive & Thyme. It’s teamed with sharp onions, tomatoes, parsley, and a touch of tahini. The veggie mix gives it some crunch and punch, the meat gives it heft and body. It’s a perfect fast lunch.
For those who need more, there’s a bevy of items waiting for you. You can go all in with something on the lines of Lebanese Moussaka or lamb chops. On Saturdays and Sundays, you can score breakfast items as well (lots of garbanzo options). It’s all available for both take-away and dine-in.
You can find Olive & Thyme at 4519 N. High St.
For more information, visit oliveandthymecafe.com.