Alex Nutt’s report from the coalface
Published 10 February 2022

We’ve followed chef Alex Nutt’s career since 2016, when he first appeared in The Guide running the Exmoor Beastro in Dulverton with such infectious enthusiasm. In 2018 he moved to Ilminster with his partner Patrizia Ferrara to set up Today’s Menu, a confident small neighbourhood restaurant run with that same passion for zealous local sourcing and simplicity. We caught up with Alex to find out how they had fared during the pandemic.

‘Been close’ he admitted. Hit hard by delivery problems, they’ve been left with no option but to ‘pause’ lunch service after one particularly nightmarish lunchtime when, fully booked, neither the fish nor the wine arrived. Priority has always been given to buying from small suppliers but when the driver shortage kicked in, these little companies lost their drivers to bigger businesses offering double wages.

Today’s Menu currently opens for dinner Wednesday to Saturday for advanced bookings ‘to keep waste down’. For such a casual neighbourhood restaurant used to locals dropping in, this is ‘an awful way to work’. And the food? As the name suggests, the menu changes daily, but never off the menu is a dish of scallops cooked in a wood-fired oven with white wine, butter and samphire.

For visitors, Ilminster is a splendid bohemian alternative to the House & Garden style of Somerset hot-spot Bruton. It’s a lovely market town full of independent shops – including the useful ones such as baker, butcher, greengrocer (and Boots). Alice Temperley has her headquarters right in the centre, in a three-floored Victorian building housing her design atelier, a store offering both current collections and archive pieces, and a bar – The Somerset – serving cocktails and cider from Alice’s parents’ cider farm; it’s popular with diners at Today’s Menu for pre-and post-dinner drinks.

Taken from The Good Food Guide Weekly. Subscribe to the newsletter here.