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The Foodism guide to Bruton, Somerset

Fancy a trip to the gastronomic capital of Bruton? We've rounded up our guide to the best place to eat, drink and explore in Bruton

Tiny, dense and intense: Bruton is basically a medieval market town made up of one long street – but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in brilliant places to eat and drink. Seriously: it may be small, but it packs an almighty punch in the restaurant stakes, boasting some of the boujiest bakeries and tasting menus in the country. King of the town is chef Merlin Labron-Johnson who has put a new regenerative agriculture lens on Somerset, a county already focused on seasonal eating, thanks to his two restaurants Osip and the Old Pharmacy. But this not-so-sleepy backwater was already renowned for restaurants like Roth Bar & Grill and At The Chapel, while contemporary art gallery Hauser & Wirth adds some serious cool culture credentials.

Where to stay

Osip

1 High Street, Bruton, BA10 0AB

Merlin Labron-Johnson shot to culinary fame during his years at Portland and subsequently Clipstone, where he earned a Michelin star at the tender age of 24. But Johnson had always had a vision: to create a true farm-to-table restaurant using regenerative farming methods and closed-loop farming, and by golly, aged 30, he’s done it. Osip, which takes its name from his middle name, is the kind of restaurant other chefs dream of running; FOH staff from as far as New Zealand come to the UK with the sole ambition of working there; and the interiors are so stylish you wish you could move in. Naturally, the food more than follows suit, continuing Johnson’s characteristic lightness of touch and creative vision, using lesser-known ingredients like crystal lemons and cucamelons grown in an extensive garden maintained by Johnson himself. There’s miso made with leftover brown bread; duck breast with a tiny mouthful of duck confit, a tranche of blood sausage, beetroots, and the delicate, delicious addition of a brightly flavoured purple basil leaf. The entire tasting menu is designed to be as sustainable as possible: fish is farmed using aquaponics, dairy is carefully sourced from nearby Westcombe (more on which later), and it is all totally, unequivocally unmissable. One to add to your bucket list.

osiprestaurant.com

The Old Pharmacy

3 High Street, Bruton, BA10 0AB 

Not content with his Michelin star at Osip, Johnson used lockdown to literally set up shop in the space next door, which is indeed an old pharmacy. He used the space to sell produce from his own kitchen gardens and suppliers, and now it’s still the place to pick up farm-fresh veggies, local ciders (including Osip’s own), juices, meats and cheeses from nearby producers. It’s also a lovely spot to get coffee, lunch, or dinner: it turns into a wine bar offering fresh pastas that you can perve over through the window when you walk past.

oldpharmacybruton.com

At The Chapel

28 High Street, Bruton, BA10 0AE

Adding to tiny Bruton’s large array of places to eat and drink is At The Chapel, a restaurant, wine shop, bakery and guesthouse with eight bedrooms, housed in a glorious 17th century building attached to an 18th century chapel. The food has a similar focus around seasonal, biodynamic, organic ingredients, putting a Mediterranean spin on British cooking. Alongside sandwiches and snacks (Westcombe Dairy cheese straws, we’re looking at you), there are daily specials like a burger, Cornish haddock, or a kebab with slow-cooked shoulder of lamb or falafel. It’s only open till 3pm every day, but in the evenings you can order sourdough pizza to take away – top tip: order your pizzas early to avoid disappointment.

atthechapel.co.uk

Roth Bar & Grill

Durslade Farm, Dropping Lane, Bruton, BA10 0NL

Seasonal produce and a focus on local ingredients, many of which are grown in Durslade Farm’s walled garden: so far, so Bruton. But Roth Bar & Grill offers a slightly less swish – but no less quality – place to eat, revolving around a wood-fired grill and spit. Delicious delights include buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, coronation slaw, pickles and chips or saffron risotto, beef ragu, cavolo nero with horseradish, as well as beef and lamb butchered on-site and aged in the restaurant’s Salt Room for up to 60 days.

rothbarandgrill.co.uk

Where to shop

Durslade Farm Shop

Durslade Farm, Dropping Lane, Bruton, BA10 0NL

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You can get to Bruton easily by train, but we’d recommend taking the car just so you can load up on the good stuff. If you’ve managed to resist the lure of the produce from The Old Pharmacy, it’s time to test your resolve at Durslade Farm Shop, a cornucopia of gorgeous products and fresh ingredients that sits on Durslade Farm alongside the Hauser & Wirth gallery. The shop sells produce made with ingredients grown on the farm and nearby fields, as well as other nearby Somerset businesses. It’s one for all the design perves out there, the jars, bags and boxes bearing labels adorned with text made in creation with locally based letterpress expert Kelvyn Smith.

dursladefarmshop.co.uk

Westcombe Dairy

Lower Westcombe Farm, Evercreech, BA4 6ER

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This is Somerset, so no surprises that you’ll find plenty of cheddar. But the cheddar (and Caerphilly) from Westcombe Dairy is truly special. The family-run business has been around for years, since the days when cheese was something you made during the spring flush to preserve milk for the winter months. During World War Two, the dairy followed the government’s encouragement to create quantity rather than quality, but today it’s switched up production methods to make cheeses mainly using raw milk, from a ‘mongrel’ herd of cows. Working with raw milk requires a much greater connection and understanding of the craft: it can’t be done to a clock, and requires a greater understanding of what’s happening with the cows and their milk. The farm follows regenerative farming methods – working in a way that naturally replenishes the soil – with the cows eating a wide diet of grasses and herbs, giving a flavour that’s won loads of industry awards. What’s more, bull calves (which don’t produce dairy) are reared, living happy lives until they eventually create Westcombe’s burgeoning line of excellent charcuterie, so there’s no unnecessary slaughter or waste. Westcombe’s cheeses are even microchipped, so you can trace each golden wheel back to the cows and where they grazed. Their aim is to educate consumers about seasonal variations in the cheeses rather than producing a consistent product. What’s more, the dairy is also the original home of brewery Wild Beer Company

westcombedairy.com

What to do 

Hauser & Wirth Somerset

Durslade Farm, Dropping Lane, Bruton, BA10 0NL

No, this isn’t a restaurant, a bar or anywhere you can get anything to eat or drink. Shock! But we are cultured, you know, and you can’t really visit Bruton without visiting this contemporary art gallery, which has embedded itself in the local community. The arts centre itself is a temple to art, architecture and the Somerset landscape, complemented by a landscaped garden, home to a changing programme of outdoor sculptures. If all that’s a bit too “arty” for you, here’s the information you need to know: the gallery sits on Durslade Farm, which is, funnily enough, where you’ll also find Durslade Farm House, a historic six-bedroom farmhouse available for rent – which you should do for the quirky-cool art installations alone – as well as the eponymous farm shop we spoke about earlier, and Roth Bar & Grill, the on-site restaurant that’s also stuffed with contemporary art.

hauserwirth.com

Where to stay

No. 1 Bruton

1 High St, Bruton, BA10 0AB

This gorgeous hotel shares an address and a front door with Osip, which occupies one half of the ground floor and hosts the breakfast (think rice pudding, seasonal fruits, slices of ham and sourdough). The building is a gorgeous Georgian townhouse, with an outbuilding at the back that used to be a forge and has now conveniently been turned into a clutch of beautifully bijou rooms. Bathrooms are sleek and modern; the beds are as comforting as a hug from your favourite person; and you’re basically guaranteed to get a peaceful night’s sleep. The decor is refreshingly eclectic, too, with a mirror framed in old teacups adorned with the faces of the royal family. There’s no shortage of B&Bs in Bruton, but we can tell you that No.1 is outright lovely.

numberonebruton.com

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