Brassica Kitchen is as vibrant and eclectic as the neighborhood it calls home.
In some respects, it’s remarkable that Brassica Kitchen + Café feels as casual as it does.
Space can be at a premium, particularly at the bar. Servers, chefs, and staff appear to be in a state of perpetual motion, tending to customers and updating each other about last-minute changes to the evening’s specials. The menu of contemporary French/American cuisine will have more than a few diners googling unfamiliar ingredients.
Taken together, it’s an environment that could feel overwhelming. And yet despite the palpable sense of energy, Brassica is exactly what its website says it is – a Jamaica Plain neighborhood joint.
Brassica Kitchen + Café is the brainchild of co-owners and chefs Philip Kruta and Jeremy Kean, who forged their culinary reputation as Whisk popup team. After a series of short-term residencies in various Boston restaurants, they purchased the Fazenda Café in Jamaica Plain in 2015 and began transforming it into Brassica Kitchen. The location represents a homecoming of sorts for the duo, as their popup journey began in a JP bakery.
The chefs’ methods may have evolved in the years spent popping from kitchen to kitchen in Boston, but their emphasis on using locally sourced ingredients in creative, beautifully presented dishes remains the same.
Brassica’s menu changes frequently, depending on the availability of fresh ingredients. The menu mostly comprises small plates, which arrive when they’re ready instead of being served in any preordained sequential order. You might have two or three dishes in front of you at any given time, or just one, or none, which adds a little unpredictability to the affair.
The menu is small and manageable, but can satisfy a spectrum of tastes. Red fire carrots are served atop a buckwheat blintze with hazelnut and ricotta cheese. Parisian gnocchi with sage and sesame is tender and flavorful. Hanger steak Bourgignon is an absolute showstopper.
Brassica’s bar, led by beverage director Noah Todoroff and cocktail creator Laura Ganci, reflects many of the same principles as the kitchen. Bold flavors, surprising combinations, and a few obscure ingredients feature in cocktails that are highly original and always drinkable.
The Meguro Sour is an unconventional take on a whiskey sour, made with Japanese whisky, lime, ginger, vanilla, and spirulina (an alleged superfood made from blue-green algae). The green color owes to the spirulina, but it’s the ginger and vanilla that steal the show in this excellent drink.
The Origami combines cold-smoked rye whiskey, a house amaro, Aperol, lemon, and grapefruit bitters for a cocktail that’s spicy, bitter, and sour.
Sweet, tart, bitter, and smoky, the Hive Mind has a bit of everything. Combining mezcal with honey, lemon, Cynar, Cherry Heering, and barrel-aged bitters, it’s a complex drink with an earthy sweetness.
With a brilliant nod to Arrested Development, the Never Nude is made with a butterfly pea flower–infused rum, Combier, cacao, falernum, Becherovka, and orange oil. This is an exceptional cocktail that tastes as good as it looks, with big notes of citrus and spice. The butterfly pea flower gives it a striking blue hue (just like poor Tobias Fünke).
For my final drink, I faced a unique dilemma. Star Wars has always been my favorite movie, but anise is a flavor I struggle to enjoy. So what to do about a drink called the Last Jedi, with its blend of sesame oil washed anise liqueur, Korean chili Campari, and East India sherry?
I opted to get it, of course, and was glad I did. It was a little intense, but I didn’t have to “Force” it down.
OK…I’ll just show myself out.
Address: 370 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain
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