A Weekend in Bruton

New openings mean the small Somerset town continues to shine brightly in the West. We can think of nowhere lovelier for an autumn break with the apple harvest at The Newt, a new wine bar from the Osip team and art from 8 Holland Street. Here are our highlights:

Eating and Drinking

Following the success of Osip – which now has a Michelin star – chef and founder, Merlin Labron-Johnson has expanded his Bruton empire with The Old Pharmacy. It’s an opening promising enough to lure down a team of top foodies from London; David Durban (ex-Petersham Nurseries) on operations, Ed Boylan (ex-Carousel) as manager and Paolo Mauceri (ex-Hide and Pidgin) heading up the kitchen. Much like Osip the shop and wine bar showcases the very best Somerset produce. Visit for lunch and enjoy a glass of homemade cider and a melty farmhouse cheese toastie, or settle in for the small plates in the evening with a menu led by produce that Merlin has grown himself at his nearby plot, Dreamers Farm. That might be chilled butter bean soup with cucumber and wild fennel or a ravioli of Westcombe ricotta with datterini tomatoes and basil. Having opened this summer, it’s the latest table to book although Osip remains a must.

Credit: Tori O’Connor

Just next door, At The Chapel is the place for morning pastries and bread thanks to its on-site artisan bakery, though it’s hard to resist the smell of wood fired pizza from the restaurant too. You could make up your own ploughman’s by picking up a loaf of bread here, a jar of pickle from The Old Pharmacy and a wheel of cheddar from the Godminster shop across town.

For an evening cocktail, the Roth Bar and Grill at Hauser & Wirth serves up cocktails inspired by the gallery’s current exhibitions and the artworks on display. Stay for burgers, wagyu steaks and house salads that toss together produce from the walled garden. For something more low key, book a table at Matt’s Kitchen, a Bruton institution where you can BYOB and enjoy a set menu served in a homely setting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Things To Do

The West Country is known for its apple orchards. Celebrate Apple Day at The Newt 23-24 October and join in with apple fête games, workshops, tours through the orchards and a hog roast accompanied with live music and DJs. There are plenty of walks to do around Bruton, and you could see the autumn colours in all their glory at Stourhead.

Apple trees at The Newt

For art there’s Hauser and Wirth where Spanish sculptor, Eduardo Chillida is showing until January 2022, and Thomas J Price opens on 2 October. One of our favourite galleries in London, 8 Holland Street opened a General Store in Mells this summer. After a stint in Bath, it’s their first permanent countryside home with ceramics, textiles, furniture, and artworks displayed amongst whitewashed stone walls. Find woodcuts by Jean Arp and artworks by Frink, Hodgkin and Pasmore, vintage furniture by Heals & Sons and Karl Axel Adolfsson and contemporary artworks by Joseph Goody and Nicola Tassie. There’s also glassware by Campbell Rey, candles by Moro Dabron, textiles by Catarina Riccabona and vintage garden furniture outside.

8 Holland Street

Vintage Shopping

This area is particularly good for vintage shopping starting with Swan Vintage in Bruton itself – a treasure trove for embroidered knits, dresses, quilted waistcoats and accessories. Frome has even more choice with clothing, homewares and bric-a-brac shops lining the cobbled Catherine Hill.

Sleeping

We loved Number One Bruton – the hotel in Bruton itself that opened in 2019 with the most beautiful, creative interiors and creamy rice pudding for breakfast. They have just opened their new rooms in The Forge – think exposed beams and crittal windows and, as with the rooms in the main house, artworks from local artists.

Another new opening about 20 minutes from Bruton is The Bradley Hare. A pub on the Duke of Somerset’s estate, it’s been reinvented and opened this summer by a former Soho House design director and has just 12 rooms. The Babington House touches are there with roll-top baths and botanical cocktails served in the bar. The Newt’s new Farmyard has transformed former agricultural buildings into 17 bedrooms specifically for families (though we would happily stay there without children). The feel is more relaxed and laidback than the rooms at Hadspen House, with a swimming pool and a snug, as well as bikes and buggies to explore the grounds.

The Granary Loft at The Newt

— Daisy Allsup
15th September 2021

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