Posted: 12.10.20 at 16:49 by Francesca Evans
Axminster Nub News aims to be supportive to every element of the community from businesses, shops and people, to charities, clubs and sports organisations.
We will be profiling some of these local businesses and groups regularly over the coming weeks in a feature called 'Up Close', starting this week with new bistro Ric's Kitchen, written by Nub News' Francesca Evans.
Ric’s Kitchen - the latest addition to Axminster’s eating out scene - is bringing a touch of the Mediterranean to East Devon.
And that’s exactly what I needed when I arrived dripping from head to toe having been caught in a heavy autumn shower.
A warm welcome awaited at the Victoria Place bistro, former home of Hooper’s Cafe. Despite being a late, midweek lunch in October, it was great to see the place almost full (table numbers having been restricted to meet COVID-19 guidelines).
Chef Ric Edgell still made time to catch up with me over what has become one of his lunchtime favourites - a tapas taster board with delicious Spanish tortilla, sweet padron peppers and Ric’s signature gazpacho, which he revealed he’d spent lockdown perfecting.
Having looked for a suitable place to open their own business for several years, Ric and his wife Laura finally took the plunge in August, moving from Hampshire to Axminster just as lockdown restrictions were starting to ease.
They initially planned to continue running the premises much along the same lines as its predecessor Hooper’s, but just days before opening they decided they wanted to put their own stamp on the place, so they gave it a fresh lick of paint and started planning a new menu.
The result is a combination of the best in local ingredients and dishes drawing inspiration from northern Spain - Ric having previously worked in San Sebastian and fallen in love with the cuisine.
Ric’s Kitchen has filled a gap in the early morning market, opening at 7.30am (8.30am on Thursdays) for breakfast, serving both a full English and Ric’s own take on the traditional Spanish breakfast of tomatoes and eggs, his favourite being gazpacho, olive oil-fried bread and a fried egg.
For lunch, the tapas taster board is the perfect Spanish pick-me-up for one or you can indulge in a sharing board for two or more, including Spanish tortilla, fresh mozzarella, chorizo, parma ham, olives, mini tomato and olive pintxos, bread and - of course - Ric’s signature gazpacho.
Baguettes, toasties and sandwich melts also feature on the menu, as well as regularly-changing specials and a selection of light bites - each currently available with any drink for £5 as part of the Fiver Fest campaign, running until October 25th.
There is also plenty of choice for vegetarians, vegans and those with gluten-free diets.
Ric commented: “We use fresh, cared-for ingredients and our food is prepared slowly with thought and precision. We don’t rush anything out of the kitchen but we feel it’s worth the wait.
“It’s all freshly made on site and almost all our ingredients are sourced within a 10-mile radius. We recently made Axminster Market and Axminster Country Market our sole source of fresh vegetables.
“Because of COVID we have kept our menu small for the time being, but we do plan to expand with a full tapas menu and hope to open in the evenings when restrictions are relaxed.
“The focus will be on sharing with family and friends, which I think is something that will be especially needed after lockdown.”
Ric and Laura are keen to create a real buzz in their new bistro and will also be looking to host live music nights when restrictions are eased.
But for now, you can create your own entertainment on what is thought to be the only public piano in Axminster. All ages and abilities are welcome to pop into Ric’s to play a tune, with the instrument sanitised after every use to meet COVID regulations.
Commenting on the response to their new venture, Ric said: “We’ve had a really good reaction, an overwhelming response to my food which has been humbling. This is the first time running my own place and setting the menu myself, so it’s been really encouraging.
“We’ve also had lots of support from other restaurants who have pointed customers in our direction if they’ve been unable to accommodate them. There seems to be a great community spirit here in Axminster.”
As well as taking part in the current Fiver Fest, Ric’s Kitchen is giving back to the community with a number of special offers.
Breakfast Club is run every Tuesday to Friday between 7.30am and 10am - visit six times and your seventh breakfast will be free!
If you take a photo of your food at Ric’s Kitchen and share it on social media (don’t forget to tag them on Facebook or Instagram) you could win a free meal for two, with the first draw to be held on October 30th.
And there’s no need for the kids to miss out - children aged two and under can eat for free!
If you would like your local business to feature in a future 'Up Close' feature with Axminster Nub News, contact Francesca Evans on [email protected] or call 07810 221 420.