Brassica Kitchen + Cafe

By Jacqueline Cain · 09/14/2021    Jamaica Plain · New American · $$

Take the Orange Line all the way to its southernmost station, then go on a ride. The Ride, that is, Brassica Kitchen + Cafe’s freewheeling tasting menu. Available each night at the Forest Hills spot, it’s a priced-per-person journey through a dinner menu that’s equal parts French technique, fermented flavor, and stoner’s creativity. A la carte is also an option, but The Ride is the most direct route to the heart of a top Boston restaurant that defies the expected path.

That’s not to say Brassica Kitchen hasn’t had a linear evolution. The Jamaica Plain favorite opened in 2016, more than five years into the life of Whisk, a pop-up dinner series founded by co-chefs Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta. After securing the end-of-the-line location that formerly housed Fazenda Coffee Roasters (now based in Dedham), the team—which also includes Kean’s sister, Rebecca, as an operating partner—never closed the cafe down. Instead they debuted their own concept with coffee, sandwiches, and donuts by day, showcasing the techniques Kruta had honed as pastry chef at the famed L’Espalier and JP’s Fiore’s Bakery. 

Brassica remains a daily brunch go-to, but by nightfall it delves into no-holds-barred New American, helmed by the energetic chef Kean. His experience includes No. 9 Park, Rialto, and Aquitaine. 

The Ride diverges nightly, cherry-picking dishes from the a la carte offerings and occasionally veering off-menu. Expectations do you no good, but for an idea about potential stops along the way: A palate-cleaning Hamachi Crudo may be adorned with aromatic olive oil and green strawberries, pickled in the sweet-and-salty umeboshi style. A duck leg may arrive precisely confited but coated in mossy-textured yuk sung, alongside a bracing orange gastrique to cut the savory duck floss. And then there’s the B.K. Fried Chicken, a worthy vehicle for fermented hot sauces or drizzled in honey atop glossy house-baked brioche.

To pair with your eclectic meal, Brassica’s beverage options, overseen by Noah Todoroff, are equally as electrifying, from natural wine to house-made vermouths, and other unique tinctures and libations that bring excitement without booze (perhaps a nod to chef Kean’s journey with sobriety). We see you, spirulina.

There are plenty of ways to experience Brassica Kitchen. All make it worthy of the visit, unified by bold flavors and thoughtful service from passionate people.

You’ve probably noticed how fermentation is important to Brassica Kitchen, from libations to cultured butters. To keep up with all their flavorful projects, sign up to receive information about the return of Juicebox Ferments, a monthly subscription box (currently on hold).

Don’t limit your visits to Brassica for dinner—you’ll thank us in the morning. Donuts are made fresh daily in flavors we crave, like Vanilla Sprinkle, Preserved Lime, and crispy-ridged glazed Churronuts.

Cofounder and pastry chef Philip Kruta is also a woodworker. He constructed Brassica Kitchen’s bar and other furniture.

Must Haves

  • Juicy chicken with a greasy-good crust, these thick, boneless thighs hit all the right notes, especially when accompanied by Brassica’s fermented hot sauces.

  • Of course these ubiquitous tiny cabbages are treated right at Brassica Kitchen: Roasted to caramelly crispiness, B.K. Brussels are sauced in maple, lemon, and miso to deliver all five basic flavors in every bite.

  • This rich rice dish is laden with Parmesan and is more luscious than even the most butter-enhanced mac and cheese you can imagine, thanks to its namesake cultural influencer (that’s the umami-enhancing Japanese mold, koji).

  • Despite all the decadent flavors (and that must-order fried chicken), dining at Brassica can actually be a health-conscious endeavor, chock-full of fresh vegetables and probiotics. Even the cocktails get in on it: This house-favorite whiskey drink gets a colorful shot of spirulina, a nutrient-rich superfood.

Fun Fact

During the Whisk years, Brassica’s preceding pop-up dinner series, chef Jeremy Kean won Guy’s Grocery Games and a cash prize that helped him bring his restaurant dream to life.

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