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Levant in Castle Cary

Think I've just found my new favourite restaurant. I was expecting good things of Levant in Castle Cary, a new pop up which currently opens on Thursday and Friday nights and for private parties on Saturdays. Owner Tanya Levy has garnered quite a reputation for her Eastern Mediterranean catering and early testers told me the restaurant was equally good. What I wasn't expecting, though, was for the food to be so utterly mindblowing in a Moro eat your heart out kind of way.

Levant is held in the ground floor of Tanya's exquisite Arts and Crafts house. It's tucked away in a quiet back street and has a wonderful garden with a brook babbling through it. This just doesn't feel like the centre of town at all. There are two tiers of decking in the garden and a bar and Tanya plans to hold Middle Eastern barbecues in the summer.


Though Levant has only been open 2 weeks locals have already cottoned onto it and the restaurant was busy when we arrived.  It's BYO here (corkage £3) so with our very nice bottle of red Tanya brought over olives and home-made taramasalata. Note to self - I need to ask her where she buys her cod's roe - this was smokey, sublime with just the right amount of punch and tasted like no other home-made taramasalata I've ever tried. It came with flatbread from the local artisan baker Lievito and was a knockout. Levant offers set menus which change daily and include a vegetarian option.  Personally I love this way of eating, no agonising over choices, safe in the knowledge that Tanya is a skilled and interesting cook.

We started with a shared mezze plate of courgette babaghanoush, feta marinated with dukka, roasted peppers. lamb kofta and a yoghurt dip which came with more delicious Lievito bread. It was incredibly good and left us slightly concerned that we'd have no room for the main course. But then the saffron and lemon chicken arrived with basmati rice and lentils and a crisp salad scattered with pomegranate seeds. Wow, straight up it's the best thing I've eaten all year - the tenderest chicken (from Andrew Barclay renowned butcher in Wincanton), perfectly spiced, rice with a crunch of crispy fried onions. It's right up there in last meal status. For pudding we tried white chocolate with pine nuts, pistachios, olive oil, candied lemon zest and sea salt. Sounds weird? It wasn't. The salt and lemon offset the sweetness of the white chocolate perfectly, the nuts adding complexity to the snowy white mousse. Tanya's menus are unexpected and adventurous, the food is sensational. Come here soon before it becomes impossible to get a table.

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