Merlin Labron-Johnson to open French-inspired wine bar

Merlin Labron-Johnson, the former head chef of Portland in Marylebone, is to open a wine bar and deli in Bruton, Somerset, next to his farm-to-table restaurant, Osip.

Merlin Labron-Johnson is to open a wine bar and deli in Bruton, Somerset, next to his farm-to-table restaurant, Osip

As reported by Big Hospitality, the chef’s latest venture inspired by the épiceries of rural France, will be named The Old Pharmacy after the 16th century building that houses it.

Labron-Johnson has previously headed up the kitchens at restaurants including Clipstone and Portland, the latter of which famously landed him his first Michelin star just nine months after its opening in 2015, when Labron-Johnson was just 24 years old.

Farm-to-table restaurant Osip (pictured right), also located in Bruton, takes the chef’s middle name. David Durban, Osip’s operations manager is working alongside Labron-Johnson on the project.

Labron-Johnson told Big Hospitality that, “The Old Pharmacy feels like a natural progression from Osip.

“At the restaurant we let the home-grown, seasonal ingredients shine, so I wanted The Old Pharmacy to continue in this vein and allow locals and visitors alike to be able to take home the same produce we use at the restaurant just a few doors down.”

The retail offering at The Old Pharmacy will include seasonal vegetables from the chef’s nearby vegetable plots, as well as quality produce from local Somerset suppliers including farmhouse cheeses, pickles and preserves, selected wines, Tamworth pig charcuterie and locally-milled flours and organic grains.

Alongside the grocery store, coffees and lunches will be served during the day, including seasonal salads made using the chef’s home-grown garden vegetables. At night, the bar will serve a selection of natural wines and beers alongside small plates.

Cider made for Osip in collaboration with Martin Berkley of Pilton will also be served in the evenings, as well as other ciders from Wilding and Find & Foster.

Labron-Johnson told Big Hospitality of his delight at the new site’s versatility, with customers able to use The Old Pharmacy to “go off into the Somerset countryside to enjoy a picnic, or choose to stay and settle in for the night with some wine, cider and small plates”.

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