When a Tim Hortons opened near where I lived, some of my friends were in line hours before it opened. They had waited impatiently for months and it was finally time to try the Canadian fast food chain right here in England, and get a free donut along the way.
Their anticipation was at ‘kids on Christmas Eve’ levels and the wait was clearly worth it as they didn’t stop talking about how amazing it was for far too long afterward. This was in December 2017 and it happened to be the first self-service restaurant in the UK, open 24 hours a day.
For some reason and just a little hint of not believing the hype, I never actually got there, even though I’ve also made two trips to Canada in the last decade. But my virginity to Tim Hortons has now been broken as I was one of the lucky few to walk through the doors of Lancashire’s first store in Burnley, before it opened to the public this week.
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I visited at breakfast time, with that menu running until noon and the meal deals running until 11am. By the way, the breakfast wrap deal is an absolute steal at £3.49, which includes the sandwich, a drink (coffee or orange juice) and a hash brown.
I upgraded to the big breakfast wrap and it was a game changer. I rarely go to McDonalds but when I do it’s for breakfast and my visits became even more depleted when they stopped making the wraps. Maccies’ loss is certainly old Tim’s gain.
The meat (bacon and sausage) is lean, the egg clearly freshly cracked and cooked to order, the cheese not too sticky but adds another texture to the filling, which sits like a well-wrapped gift inside the soft cotton-flour tortilla. . An unexpected early Christmas present.
There was no sign of grease dripping from the bottom which made the bread soggy and the sweetness of the bacon went very well with the herbed sausage. The hash brown was crispy and piping hot with golden flecks, just the way I like it.
If pancakes are your go-to for breakfast, then you should take the plunge and order the bacon and maple syrup version, which is a Canadian staple and relatively close to real food (I’ve tried them at a fast food place in Montréal). However, the sweet and salty combo is not for everyone and may confuse your taste buds.
In addition to breakfast, there is also a wide variety of hot dogs, burgers, chicken tenders, grilled cheese sandwiches, and kids’ meals available and everything is made fresh to order and baked goods are made in-house each morning.
In addition to savory foods, the cafeteria, which originated in Vancouver in 1964 and is famous for its coffee, donuts and the signature ‘Tim Bits’, which are essentially the “middle pit” of a donut and are sold in boxes of 10, 20 or 50, so of course I had to try those too.
Tim Bits are small enough to eat in one. They’re like a sneak peek at donuts, similar to the miniature versions of the chocolates in the Celebrations and Heroes tubs you’ll find on the coffee table this time of year, and only Bounty bars remain on Boxing Day.
From colorful sprinkles to fluffy chocolate textures, each one is delicious and ideal for anyone “trying to be good” but can’t resist a little sweet treat. The box of 50 is also great for sharing at an office or large family gathering and is sure to be on everyone’s Christmas card list next year, if it isn’t already.
The full-size donut assortment is extensive—and impressive—and includes a selection of deluxe and festive specials, such as Tree-mendous, Snow Place Like Home Christmas, Chocolate Brownie, and Maple Caramel Baked. But I have to give the Apple Fritter its own mention, as it was an indulgent donut-shaped apple strudel. It tasted like Christmas. Krispy Kreme who?
As for the coffee (I had the latte), it was rich, deep, creamy and strong for a drink that usually errs on the milkier side – a really good blend. I also tried one of the best sellers, the signature french vanilla coffee, but it was too sweet for me.
So aside from being left with a bit of regret for not joining my friends in line five years ago, I’ve become increasingly lyrical about Tim Hortons ever since. And, for what it’s worth, IMHO and from the evidence of this one visit, Tim Hortons lived up to the hype better than New Year’s Eve.