Brassica Kitchen + Cafe – Boston Magazine Hall of Famer

Let me get everything bad about Brassica Kitchen + Cafe out of the way; it isn’t easy to get to. Done. That’s it. If you happen to live near Jamaica Plain, or if you can navigate the rotaries and zig-zags to get there, then there’s nothing bad to speak of. There’s even a parking lot across the street that only costs three bucks, or use the Orange Line or the commuter rail to get there. It is right next to the Forrest Hills Station. But you didn’t come here for directions, you came for food.

But before we eat, a cocktail is in order. Brassica Kitchen makes their own Amaro, and as they near the end of the bottle, they pour the remainder into their Infinity Bottle, along with the bottoms of a few other spirits. They sell a hefty pour from the Infinity Bottle on the rocks for $5. Although the flavor profile changes (the menu describes it as “who the hell knows”) the night I had it was great. And even if it was just ok, where are you going to get a halfway decent “cocktail” for just five dollars?

For dinner, we had to try The Ride. It’s their version of a tasting menu, picking several dishes off the menu and available with wine parings. They don’t come out one by one, but in small groups. The first three courses were good. We started with a bowl of pickled radishes, amberjack crudo, and cured cod. This was paired with Hungarian white wine. My favorite of the three was the cod which is served on a banana leaf and topped with a brown butter-mango sauce.

So everything was good, but then they set green curry swordfish with potatoes on the table. Here the meal got out of hand. The spicy green curry sauce blew my mind. This dish is special. I don’t know how often it is on the menu, but I hope all the time, one of the best things I’ve eaten in a while. The potatoes were creamy and the swordfish was perfect. But really it was all about this sauce, and they know it because they quickly offered grilled bread to soak up what was left. I’m guessing have leftover sauce is a problem for most people. This was followed shortly by the koji-parmesan risotto with shoyu. If you don’t understand the fifth taste, umami, just have a bite of this. Rich and luxurious, this little bowl of rice is an umami bomb. Both were served with Tatto, a natural, California orange wine by Ruth Lewandowski, made with Friulano and Riesling grapes.

At this point, I could have gone home very happy, but there was more. Next came an extraordinary bolognese with pork and more parmesan. After that was a dish of mussels with sausage and curry sauce, red this time. The pasta was al dente with a generous amount of pork. The mussels came with more grilled bread and savory sausage. I didn’t expect mussels, sausage, and curry to work but it did beautifully. This time the wine was a Chilean Pais. I was offered more bread for the remaining curry sauce, but instead I opted to take it home. It got me thinking, I’d love to order a quart of the green curry sauce to go!

Last came dessert, a freshly cooked donut with brown butter icing. In our Hall of Fame tour only the coconut cake at Myers + Chang was as good as this. How often do you get to have a hot, fresh donut, let alone late at night? On top of it, this was huge, about twice the size of an average donut. And yet, I still ordered a second, and a second drink from the infinity bottle to go with it.

The atmosphere is cool but casual. In fact, we were able to bring our four-year-old, something we couldn’t do at some of the other restaurants on this list. Of the places we feel comfortable bringing our son, this was the best. But my kid doesn’t eat green curry swordfish you say. Well sadly neither does mine. While they don’t have a printed kids menu, they offered grilled cheese, chicken fingers, or pasta for him. He went with the grilled cheese and french fries. These fries are fantastic, and I even stole a piece of grilled cheese to dip in curry. So not only can you get a great meal, but you can bring your kid.

Service was very friendly and eager to help. It was their suggestion to bring the extra bread and they cheered when I wanted to take home the red curry sauce and again when I wanted a second donut. You could tell they loved what they were doing. The room is small and the tables very small, but there was also a group of six eating when we arrived. So even though, it’s a bit more suited to a date or a double date, they can accommodate a group.

It was also a good value. The Ride was $70 a person plus another $35 each for wine. If you add up the menu cost of what you are eating you save a few dollars on both the food and the wine by ordering this way. Including the kid’s meal, the extra donut and four cocktails, the total was $333. This includes the tip, and unlike Field and Vine they both make it clear on the menu and tell you when they bring the check so that you can’t double tip by accident.

So it isn’t easy for me to get to Brassica Kitchen, but it is one of the best meals I had this year, plus I feel comfortable brining my kid. I like the setting and the service, and I love the food. Oh and that Infinity Bottle is the best $5 drink in Boston. So I’ll overcome the rotaries and zig-zags and go back. You should too and give it a try.

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