(restaurant in Beaminster and now also an adjacent homeware store) has been on my bucket list for some time but for one reason and another I haven’t been able to get there. Even more frustratingly people keep recommending it to me. ‘Have you been to Brassica yet?,’ they say and I’m left feeling like the last one to join the party.
Well finally I’ve made it and the good news is it’s worth the wait.
Brassica was set up by Cass Titcombe, chef and co-founder of the Canteen chain in London and partner Louise Chidgey, interior designer, who worked for Conran and Tom Conran restaurants amongst others.
They have pooled their very different skills to create somewhere absolutely unique and, I think, pretty special, the antithesis of the themed hipster restaurant of today. For a start I love the fact that it’s not a dark, Farrow & Ball coloured space but instead a beautiful light-filled room with some serious flashes of colour. Louise is fanatical about homeware and it shows – during our three course lunch, quite aside from the gorgeousness of the ingredients, each new dish came in some kind of receptacle we wanted to take home with us.
‘Oh I want one of those,’ we said as the salad arrived in a hand-carved wooden bowl or the trifle appeared in a beautifully shaped, old school glass.
From the outset so many customers were asking where they could buy the plates (marbled ceramic from Italy) and the tablecloths (hand dyed linen from France) and the glasses (thin, lightweight, exactly the right size), that when the adjacent shop came up for sale Cass and Louise decided to buy it and Brassica Mercantile was born.
So now you have at least two reasons to go to Beaminster, a restaurant that serves perfectly judged, non pretentious food and an interiors store offering the chance to recreate some of that effortless taste yourself.
The restaurant manages to be stunning and laid back in equal measure which means it’s the kind of place where you can just turn up on the off chance. I’d be happy rocking up here for a shared charcuterie board and a glass of house white, for the brilliantly priced fixed lunch menu (£16.50 for 3 courses) or for the full blow out dinner.
A lunch of shared vegetable anti pasti, grilled cod with rocket and caper berries and linguine with runner beans, pine nuts and parmesan was unfailingly good. It’s the details which show here – at the start of the meal warm focaccia comes with a little (gorgous, earthenware) pot of aioli and a glass of Viognier was spectacularly good and completely different to any Viognier I’ve tasted before.
A word for the wine list, it’s been created by Louise’s father, Graham Chidgey, a renowned wine merchant who has been in the trade for 61 years. Punters often left the restaurant wondering where they could find the house wine and the good news is you can now buy this and many other wines at Brassica Mercantile.
The shop itself is a beacon for homeware magpies, beautiful pieces of ceramic, china, glass and linen that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a great present pitstop, with ideas like The Art Mug, featuring different designs inspired by artists like Van Gogh and Rothko or you can fill one of the pretty cardboard, ribbon wrapped boxes with foodie items, an ideal gift for weekends spent visiting friends.
Lots to love here from handweaved Kenyan baskets in gorgeous colours to unusual cookbooks, striped napkins in a French weave, vibrant hand painted egg cups from The Potter’s Workshop in Cape Town.
An ideal day out then, a delicious, leisurely, wine-fuelled lunch followed by a mine sweep around this rather wonderful shop. Better put it on the West Country bucket list - you have been warned.