Nosh & Quaff, Birmingham

This wasn’t supposed to be the plan. I was going to let the hype die down and give Nosh & Quaff the once over when the kitchen has settled. I was expecting the launch party to be the usual mix of free booze and gift bags; we were not expecting to be sat down, fed and watered. Even so, as I am seated upstairs amongst the well-heeled I vow to come back try more of the menu on my own steed before delivering my true opinion.

And then The Pig happened.  Four bone-in ribs from an animal who’s diet I would probably envy, coated in a spice rub full of gentle aromatics and heat.  The thick ribbons of fat had broken down from its slow cook in the sous-vide, the outside charred from its blitz through the high oven heat.  The result is a meat that falls apart at the mere suggestion of pressure.  Its the best piece of animal I have eaten for over a year.  Only when I finish gnawing away at the bones do I notice that there is well-made fries and a coleslaw also on the tray.  I consider for a second how the sharp and piquant ‘slaw would have worked well with the pork, before going back to searching for any meat I may have missed.

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The menu is a concise offering; a whole lobster for twenty quid, ribs of cow and pig, a hotdog from the wonderful Big Apple company in East London, a burger, and some wings.  The sole vegetarian main is a mac and cheese burger, formed ,bread-crumbed, then deep fried.  It oozes creamed cheese flavoured lightly with truffle oil, whilst the pasta still retains its bite.  What makes the dish is the bread crumbs, heavily seasoned so that every bite draws the maximum in flavour.  There is a slice of abalone mushroom and pickled shallots for contrast.  Eating this is not good for your health, but the best things never are.  We order the blooming onion – seasoned and deep fried slithers still bound together at its core – and douse it with a house sauce full of pepper and mustard.  It feels like an instant classic, but then so does everything else. We share the N&Q take on Rocky Road for dessert.  Its good, even if the silky chocolate sauce that covers it is a little heavy-handed on the sugar.  Not that we mind, as we quickly fight over the nut brittle pieces and dabs of marshmallow we later find out are made in house.

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I would forgive you for thinking that this sounds a little familiar.  The name, the lobster for twenty notes, the plastic bib that I am yet to mention.  Its obvious that part of the inspiration is Burger & Lobster, the branch which started in London and is now appearing everywhere, including my beloved Birmingham this Autumn.  When I first saw the menu I thought it was plagiarism; now I think it to be evolution.  Where Burger & Lobster limits itself to two items, Nosh & Quaff takes those boundaries and runs with them, never flinching in the quest for perfection from the ingredient sourcing to the delivery on the table.  Its barely even open and already it feels vital to the city.  Believe the hype.  Every single word of it.  Nosh & Quaff is the real deal.

9/10

As you have probably already established, the food I ate at the launch party was complimentary.

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