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Frome’s newest restaurant wants you to stay at Home [WFJ #13]
Open as of the Easter weekend, what exactly does ‘Home’ bring to the table?
You may be wondering why 21 Market Place – the building that, until October, housed Fat Radish for four and a half years – has got a fresh lick of Dulux and is now sporting the word ‘Home’ above its door.
You may also be wondering what this – Frome’s newest hangout somewhere between a bar, restaurant, and cafe – will bring to the town. “We were looking to create something that wasn't already here,” says Keren Hayden, Home’s owner. “We know it won't be everyone's cup of tea.”
Clues about what the restaurant’s trying to do are in the name – Keren and co. want it to resemble your own home, where you can sit in a corner with a paperback and a cuppa, have your friends round for drinks, or get the family together for Sunday lunch. But also not too much like home, because your home probably doesn’t have Lost and Grounded from the tap, live music and poetry, or piles of food on demand.
“We're not treating it like a normal restaurant,” Keren says. “We're not as formal as that. If people want to eat, they can eat. If they want to just drink, they can. If they want a coffee at 10 o’clock at night, that's no problem – we'll get the cake out.”
For the moment at least, Home’s centrepiece is in its sharing boards – platters of, mostly, meat, cheese, and bread for one to two people. There’s things like ham and Somerset cheeses with bread, homemade chutney, and a scotch egg; or a mezze of hogget or chickpea kofta with tzatziki, hummus, flatbreads, et al. A couple of favourites have emerged among the early guests, including the ‘Getting Ribby With It’ – a significant serving of fried chicken, chunky halloumi fries, bourbon ribs, and battered cheesy jalapenos with a menagerie of dips; and the ‘Viva Espana’, a tapas of chorizo, patatas bravas, croquetas, and tortillas. “Lo Rapitenc’s round the corner, but ours is very different – it’s a more basic, starter version of a tapas,” Keren says.1
She points to another dish, this one including ceviche, fried pork belly, fried plantain, refried beans, and tortillas. “We've got Paula, who's my main chef in the kitchen – she's from Costa Rica, so we've got a latino board with all her specialities on it. But people aren't being so brave as to try it yet.”
The graze-y approach to Home’s food is not out of nothing. In 2011, Keren started Events Horizon, a catering and ‘events logistics’ company built for weddings, music gigs, and other events – even putting on the hospitality for headliners at Glastonbury’s John Peel stage. “I used to be a copy editor in publishing,” says Keren, “and the arse fell out of the business. So I wanted to try something else. Lots of people suggested something like this, as they said I’m a good cook.”
Later, just before lockdown, Keren’s Comfort Kitchen – a more public variation on the catering theme – came along, delivering shepherd’s pie, lasagna, birthday cake, “and all the other stuff you can't generally get as a takeaway”, to local doorsteps. Home’s approach is largely its own thing, though the hundreds of Comfort Kitchen fans will be pleased to see a few familiars. “Afternoon tea and or grazing boxes – that kind of thing people can come here and have instead,” Keren says.
What’s perhaps most encouraging is how Home’s looking to fit in with the local ecosystem of farmers, growers, and makers. All the restaurant’s fruit and veg is from Stacey at the Mendip Weekly Market.2 Somerset Deli, also at the market, sources their cheese, while the bread is from Glastonbury microbakery Strictly Sourdough, pork is generally from Penleigh butchers, and the hogget from Fernhill Farm between Bristol and Wells. “They look after their sheep really really well,” says Keren. “I'd really like to be veggie, but I can't quite get there. So it's all about the welfare of the animals.”
As well as being very aware of the many other “brilliant” producers and sellers in the area (we talk briefly of sourcing from vineyards like Quoins and Wraxall, near Bradford on Avon and Castle Cary respectively), Keren mentions how making the most of them helps money circulate around town while minimising food miles. “Also, if you support someone that's local, chances are they'll support you back,” she says.
As Frome doesn't have anything quite like Home already, will grazing platters be a hit? Could afternoon teas prove a home run with visiting tourists? For any restaurant to succeed, especially one in its first weeks of existence, nothing can stay the same for long. “We're coming up with new stuff all the time, and will continue to do so,” Keren says. “If one day people get bored of sharing boards, then we'll come up with something else.”
Having visited on a busy Friday lunchtime, I found it quite clear that Home is, at least for now, enough to get people out the house.
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Though Stacey’s Fruit & Veg operates locally, the majority of her produce is not sold as such