‘Thyme’ for something new at Crossroads

Crossroads Bellevue

Thyme for Soup

Crossroads Bellevue

Northeast Eighth Street and 156th Avenue Northeast

The chill of winter is almost over, but there is still plenty of Thyme for Soup to warm you up.

The restaurant, which opened in Crossroads Bellevue Thursday March 13, has brought a new concept to the food court.

“I saw it under construction over the past few weeks,” said Chancee Watkins, who stopped by Thyme for Soup with Sarah Lopez to look over the menu the day before it opened. “I think it’s a good addition because there’s not really anything like this at Crossroads.”

Located in Crossroads’ front entrance between Cold Stone Creamery and Crossroads Café, Thyme for Soup offers different soups, chilis, bisques and chowders that are rotated daily. In addition, patrons can choose from a selection of grilled Panini sandwiches and fresh salads.

Owner Bulent Aki, who also owns Ebru Mediterranean Grill on the other side of Crossroads Café, has been in the Crossroads food court since it opened in 1986. For more than 20 years, he has heard the demand from diners looking for a soup and sandwich place.

“We have a lot of different foods, but we are missing good soup and sandwiches,” Aki said. “If you look around, almost everyone has a few soups, but we are emphasizing the soups – eight different chowders and soups is a lot.”

The Reporter chatted with Aki about the new Thyme for Soup.

Reporter: Tell us about Thyme for Soup and how you came up with the idea.

Aki: I was thinking of opening a soup and sandwich place and I’ve been waiting for any openings that I can take over.

The location that I am in right now was Frankfurter before. Their lease came up and they left, so I took over and decided I’m going to put in that concept. I talked to the management and they were very excited about the concept.

Reporter: Tell us about the soups.

Aki: We’re going to do stews, chilies, soups, clam chowder, so water-based and milk-based. We will change our soups everyday - that will be our signature.

There are two or three selections that I’m thinking about keeping the same every day, like chicken noodle. We were thinking for the night crowd a jambalaya, so that it’s more of a dinner-type food. (Soups come in three sizes: 12 ounces, $3.99; 16 ounces, $4.99 and 32 ounces, $7.99).

Even depending on the season, winter time I’ll put a little bit heavier soups because of the weather outside.

Reporter: What’s on the menu?

Aki: We have five salad selections (including Spinach Mandarin, with cheddar, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, almond slices, mandarin oranges and raspberry vinaigrette: $5.99; and Thyme’s Classic: basil, feta, calamata olives, tomato, garbanzo, romaine, honey mustard dressing: $5.99).

With the Paninis, I try to make more of a Mediterranean flavor than ones than you find everywhere. (There are six selections of Paninis, including Turkey Pesto, with provolone, fresh tomato and basil; Oliveto Vegetarian with olives, sun dried tomato, eggplant and feta cheese; and Barbecue Chicken with barbecue sauce, chicken breast, tomato and provolone – all $6.39).

I searched almost two months to get bread. Right now, the bread that we use is specifically made just for us. I found it in a small bakery in south Seattle. It’s fresh and there are different kinds of herbs in it.

Reporter: Speaking of herbs, how did you come up with the name of your restaurant?

Aki: The herb thyme has a freshness to it and it fits this whole concept of bringing something fresh and new to the food court. I don’t know that anyone has eight different kinds of soups, six kinds of Panini grilled sandwiches and fresh salads in the same place. So there’s a whole concept there.

Reporter: Do you have a favorite soup?

Aki: I like the chili and the Coconut Curry is an excellent one. I cannot pass the clam chowder either.

Reporter: Do you do to-go orders for people on the run?

Aki: We have 12, 16 and 32 ounce containers for soups that people can take with them.

Reporter: What hours and days are you open?

Aki: Around 10:30 in the mornings soups will be ready and we’ll close at 9 at night. Friday and Saturday we’ll close at 10 at night.

Reporter: Will you be jumping back and forth from Ebru Mediterranean Grill to your new restaurant now that it’s open?

Aki: I have really good staff here (points to Ebru). They will run this for me and I’m probably going to give a lot more energy to Thyme for Soup.

Reporter: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Aki: I want people to come and try everything.

Carrie Wood can be reached at cwood@reporternewspapers.com or 425-453-4290.