4 The Square, Beaminster
Wednesday-Saturday lunch, fixed menu: two courses: £13.50 three courses: £16.50
Also open in the evenings, Tuesday — Saturday
I first visited the building that currently houses Brassica many years ago when it was a free house that had the rare distinction of serving food on Sunday evenings. The beer was good; the kebab was a cheap disaster. Eventually The Wild Garlic arrived; my sole dining experience was a more expensive disappointment.
However, all has now changed.
A visit in early April — not my first — confirmed my earlier view that the chef/patron Cass Titcombe is able to produce consistently interesting food. The pleasingly short, fixed-price lunch menu changes daily, eschews gimmicks and is very good value. There is not an emulsion, foam or powder in sight. There is no feeling that the kitchen has merely been assembling food or expending all its energy on meticulous plating.
The food looks good, but most importantly it is delicious.
A pre-starter of light and oily focaccia with aioli had us politely fighting for the last piece. Next, the freshness of tomato bruschetta with ricotta matched the unexpected sunshine and a ham hock with egg and pickles had a balance which really sang. Main courses of spiced hogget with Puy lentils, preserved lemons and tomatoes and baked salt cod with fennel and potatoes were deeply satisfying. The lamb dish was both earthy and sophisticated and the fish married well with the paprika dusted potatoes. Puddings of Seville orange and frangipane tart and rice pudding with salted caramel were irresistible, the latter being creamy, full of vanilla, just the right amount of sweetness without being cloying.
When Brassica first opened last September, a local friend enthused about the décor and hand-dyed napkins. I really like the interior, the relaxed ambience and discreet, friendly service, but the critical question for me is always “what’s the food like?”
At Brassica, Cass (and his very able assistant Kieran Mason) cook comfort food with attitude. I shall revisit again very soon.