Counter Culture: Thyme and Dough

You might as well accept it—the counter line at Dripping Springs’s beloved Thyme and Dough will never move fast. With every kind of home-baked pastry and muffin to choose from, and staff who catch up on customers’ lives a mite faster than their orders, this is no place for a person who likes to grab a bite and run. Business is good, even if co-owner Marsha Shortwebb has trouble describing her restaurant in those terms.

In the beginning, she says, there was no hard-boiled business plan. “We decided to think of ourselves as successful,” she explains, “and we were.”

Shortwebb and her partner, Chef Fabienne Bollom, met while working at a Dripping Springs produce market—drawn together not just by a love of real food, but the fun of cooking and eating it among friends. When the market closed in 2005, they leased a hundred-year-old house by the side of Highway 290 and turned it into a bakery.

Their children brainstormed a name, a hand-painted sign went up, and they were in business—selling fresh produce, pastries, coffee, home-cooked sandwiches, soup and salads to breakfast and lunch crowds. But Thyme and Dough’s café side—especially the pastry case—became so popular that it quickly edged out the produce operation.

“We use only Belgian chocolate,” confirms Fabienne, who came to Texas from her native Belgium, bringing advanced pastry techniques with her. “We do the turnovers—apple, mixed berry, the almond-based European pastries,” she recites, “chocolate Danish, croissants…”

“Fabienne bakes with a European flair,” Shortwebb says. “She uses more fruit filling and nuts, less white sugar.”

“But I’m not one to impose French cooking on anyone,” Fabienne says. “I make the cinnamon roll, the sticky bun—very American, very sweet. Americans like a big bite of chocolate in their pastry, not a sliver. Well, me too. Our restaurant is European with an American flavor.”

Breakfast choices range from delicate puff pastry to the egg-based dishes Fabienne thinks of as “more masculine,” plus European-American hybrids such as the smoky chipotle baguette. Lunches include meatloaf panini, chicken-citrus salad and the signature Highway 290 Torte, featuring roasted seasonal vegetables, local goat cheese and herbs in a flaky crust. There’s a daily soup special, a three-salami hottie sandwich, even Nutella for the kids. And once a week the partners open for dinner and open mike night (BYOwine).

Customer suggestions helped shape the menu along the way, local artists and crafters decorated the space with consignment items and the restaurateurs thrived, quietly buying all the hometown ingredients they could get their hands on—from fresh local spinach to Pure Luck goat cheese.

The trick, of course, is to arrive early—that long, chatty line of customers can decimate a bakery case.

Thyme and Dough
333 West Highway 290, Dripping Springs
512-894-0001 •