It may have been all about Bruton in recent times but the new restaurant Brassica in Beaminster is shining a spotlight on a different part of the West Country.
As restaurants go this one has pretty impressive credentials. Brassica is the brainchild of Cass Titcombe, chef and co-founder of the Canteen chain in London and partner Louise Chidgey a former buyer for Conran and design manager at Tom Conran restaurants. What you have here, then, is a beautiful building, one of the oldest in Dorset and formerly home to Mat Folas’s Wild Garlic, offering incredible food in a brilliantly designed space. It’s the antithesis of the ‘concept’ restaurant which has been in vogue recently – more a gorgeous place to hang out with food that is worth travelling for.
Louise’s father Graham, who ran Layton’s Fine Wines for 30 years, has chosen Brassica’s wine list – so good and unusual apparently that people are snapping up cases of the house white on their way out. Good news then that Cass and Louise have just bought the shop next door and hope to launch Brassica Mercantile which will sell homeware showcased in the restaurant – plates and glassware from Italy, hand-dyed napkins - and include a wall dedicated to wine.
With her Conran connections Louise has been able to furnish Brassica with pieces derived from other restaurants – so the quorian topped tables were originally in Carluccio’s, the chairs are seconds recycled from the Natural History Museum “everything has a story to it,’ she says.
Cass, who cheffed at Daphne’s, The Collection and Pasha before founding Canteen, is passionate about using the very best ingredients so alongside very local produce, there’s cheese from Neal’s Yard and charcuterie from Brindisa and the menu changes each day. There’s a relaxed feel here so you’ll often find sharing platters – starters of charcuterie, duck liver and fois gras pate or anti pasti of roast squash, feta and pomegrantate, celeriac remoulade and for main Hereford ribeye tagliata with rocket and parmesan salad.
Aside from the wine you can find cocktail specials such as the rhubarb bellini or the Black Cow vodka with blood orange.
The restaurant is open for lunch (Weds to Sunday) and dinner (Tuesday to Saturday) and has recently introduced a two course lunch deal for £12 a head. On Sundays there’s always a roast (saddleback pork last weekend) and a roaring fire and everything can be served in half portions for children.
Cass and Louise have a two and a half year old son themselves so the restaurant has toys, colouring books and the laidback attitude that comes from working and parenting.
‘We didn’t do a children’s menu because Cass loves children to try what the adults are eating but, having said that, he’ll happily whip up an omelette if there’s nothing they like.’ Locals are going nuts for the new eaterie and it's easy to see why - suffice to say Brassica has put Beaminster firmly back on the map.