I’m sitting wearing a plastic bib in a sunny bar with the music of David Bowie blasting out and fingers stickier than those of a high-flying banker manipulating the markets.
This is my first proper visit to Nosh & Quaff – the fruitily-named bar and restaurant that is the latest venture for the guys from Lasan and was quite probably the most eagerly awaited opening of the year in a city that’s seen a fair few new places spring up, some simply terrible, some aspiring to mediocrity.
But this is in a different league – and, noshing and quaffing heartily, I’m in a kind of stylish glutton’s heaven.
This listed old office building, with its marble walls, high ceilings and expansive windows overlooking the beautiful Victoria Square, has been transformed with consideration but audacity.
The elegant, art deco feel of the space has been respected, but given an urban vibe with almost industrial lights, stained metal tables and splashes of colour.
Spread over two floors (three if you including the dungeon-like basement where the lavatories are sited, it brings a Shoreditch feel to Brum, though thankfully there seemed to be no self-regarding hipsters with beards longer than an ancient ape’s under-arm hair and jeans of a tightness that makes you fear for the wellbeing of their genitalia.
Attentive and friendly but utterly professional, the staff at N&Q are a delight. They’re knowledgable about the menu, about the drinks and happily exchange chat with punters without overstaying their welcome.
Empty glasses are spotted swiftly and fresh drinks offered. Dishes arrive at a pace that’s perfect.
OK, let’s get this clear. The food at N&Q is about as far removed from fine dining as Jeremy Corbyn is from becoming Prime Minister. But it’s of a very high quality, with excellent ingredients treated with skill, respect and restrained imagination.
Thus a whole Canadian lobster (they lurk alive until their demise in specially-made tanks in the basement) arrive grilled, split and with a garlic and lemon butter sauce and are an absolute treat.
The hotdog was a revelation – a Polish-style sausage that was meaty and had a gently smokey and garlicky favour served in a buttermilk bun of impeccable quality.
Sticky bacon jam and deeply caramelised onions added contrasting flavours, as did a small bowl of tangy sauerkraut.Hand-cut chips were good, without being outstanding, but a side order called Blooming Onion was an utter joy.
The layers of the allium had been separated and sliced before being coated in flour and deep-fried to create slivers of loveliness that I couldn’t help nibbling long after I was replete. The dipping sauce – a tarragon and truffle mayo – only made things worse.
My wife Lynn’s burger – a lovely chunk of ground, naturally-reared beef with various accompaniments – was equally well received.
We progressed to a shared deconstructed vanilla cheesecake served with a tart green apple puree and tangy blackberries and, on top, a sprinkling of crunchy crumbs. That I finished it is tribute to my greed and the pastry chef’s skill for I was full.
Some great craft beers and a carefully selected wine list make me fear this a place where I might spend rather too much time and money on a lazy afternoon. But god created Anadin to conquer the curse of hangovers, right?
You need to know
- Expect to pay around £30 a head for food and drinks.
- There’s no kids’ menu, but children are welcome and plates are ideal for sharing.
- There are veggie options.
- There’s a lift for disabled customers.
- Cutlery is available, but use your fingers… as with many activities, it’s more fun!
NOSH & QUAFF
130 Colmore Row, Victoria Square, Birmingham B3 3AP.
0121 236 4246.