Since I wrote this post, Nosh and Quaff has sadly closed. It’s been replaced by , Jailbird, an upscale New York inspired steak and seafood restaurant and bar.
Did you know that the quality of one’s food photographs is often inversely proportionate to the enjoyment of the meal? No? Well, maybe it’s just me. My photos are never the strongest part of my blog, but I had so much blimin fun belatedly celebrating Nosh & Quaff’s first birthday that I’m afraid they’re slightly worse than usual.
You must remember Nosh & Quaff from the blog last year. You know, the picture of me wrapping my chops round a huge beef rib? I can’t quite believe that was a year ago and I’m quite ashamed to say I hadn’t been back in between – something I’m going to blame on a) the fact I don’t actually live in Brum and b) the plethora of great places for me to try in Birmingham that I still haven’t made it to, plus the fact that new ones keep opening.
To mark their first birthday and a few tweaks to the menu, Nosh & Quaff had a big party that I unfortunately couldn’t attend. So instead, a few weeks later I went for dinner with Mr M, his sister and her fella so we could see what had changed and if I would still enjoy the ‘let’s get messy’ food on offer as much as I had the year before.
I like the interior of Nosh & Quaff. It’s got a dark, moody feel and they play good music. The menu has always been simple, established on the premise that doing a few things well is better than doing loads of stuff averagely.
They have added a few things to the American-style lobster and ribs-focused menu, including a ribeye steak (yes, you already know what Mr M ordered), pork ribs, chicken waffle and ‘cheeky burger’. Keen to try everything, and having made the mistake of visiting when we were all starving, we went on a bit of an ordering rampage.
Instead of the whole lobster, which I tried last time and thought was great, done nice and simply as I think it should be, we went for a portion of lobster fritters and a portion of wings to share as a sort of starter. The fritters, served with lobster mayo, were nice though not quite as great as I had hoped.
But the wings more than made up for it, crispy on the outside and coated in a habanero sauce that packed a nice warm punch. I could happily have eaten a huge portion of these as a main.
For main I decided to try the cheeky burger – billed as dry-aged, naturally reared beef and slow-braised cheek in a buttermilk bun, served with house cheese, crisp onion rings, truffle mayo and pickles.
As you probably know if you read this blog regularly, I don’t often choose burgers – I think the last time was at the White Horse in Duns Tew. I’m no connoisseur but this burger was pretty darn good. The meat was tender, rich and tasty while the slices of crispy onion added a bit of crunch, as did the pickles, along with their vinegary contrast to the rich beef and truffle mayo.
The boys both went for ribeye steak, one of the new additions to the menu. The meat was decent quality, as you’d expect really, but it was the bourbon and chipotle gravy that stole the show, added a little touch of extra to what we wondered could be just another steak and chips meal.
And Jamie’s sister, another meat lover like us, couldn’t help but opt for the beef ribs. These bad boys, cooked in a hickory smoke and molasses glaze, were as good as I had remembered (because I tried some, clearly). Fred Flintstone-sized ribs covered in meat that was all tender and fall-aparty (yes that’s a word) and coated in the sticky, smoky, sweet sauce.
The homemade slaw was crunchy light, and her sweet potatoes were a nice alternative to the chips the rest of us had.
Alongside the meaty mains, we tried a ‘blooming onion’ – an onion turned into a glorious deep-fried edible flower. For me, it looked a bit more impressive than it tasted but it does lend itself to that American feel of big badass dishes that you definitely wouldn’t make at home.
In a concession to how full we were, we decided to share two desserts between four rather than have one each, opting for rocky road and the cheesecake of the day. I like the way they do desserts at Nosh & Quaff – they’re a balance between the big indulgent TGI-style messy puddings you’d expect from somewhere like this and something a bit more refined.
The cheesecake is a deconstructed version of the dish, with crumbly crumb, fruit and the creamy part all piled together in a bowl, and the rocky road – as you’d expect – a bowl full of chocolate brownie, nut brittle, marshmallow and chocolate sauce. They’re not ridiculously big but even so, two between four was plenty after the amount we’d eaten.
After dinner we headed upstairs for some of Nosh & Quaff’s cocktails. The bar upstairs has the same darkened, moody feel that downstairs does. And just because there’s a focus on decent craft ales it doesn’t mean they don’t do cocktails pretty darn well. Claire and I had a Pornstar Martini each and loved the attention to detail in the presentation – along with the fact they tasted rather fab.
I’m happy to say, a year since it opened (well, slightly more than that now) Nosh & Quaff still floats my boat. They’ve expanded the menu whilst still keeping it fairly simple and well executed. The ambience is a great balance between somewhere fun yet grown-up where you can indulge in a burger and fries yet still feel like you’ve gone out for dinner.
If you haven’t tried it yet, I’d recommend you do, and I’m definitely not planning on leaving it another year before I return!
I was invited to Nosh & Quaff to check out the new additions to the menu. A proportion of our bill was covered but we paid the rest ourselves.
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