Lobster is my absolute favorite munch in the world, however having had a few experiences of spending through the nose for a shriveled piece of wellington boot I have been wary of ordering lobster in this county unless I can see the sea from the restaurant window. Therefore, when I first heard about the Lasan Group‘s latest venture, Nosh and Quaff I had to check it out. Twenty quid for a lobster in the centre of Brum -Too good to be true? I had everything crossed to not be served a cremated pair of Hunters…
Nosh and Quaff is located in a stunning Grade II listed building overlooking Victoria Square on the corner of Colmore Row. Formerly an office and banking house, I am pleased to say a lot the building’s original features have been retained with the new interior built to complement it. I would describe the place as 50s dinner meets southern American smoke house, shoe horned into the bank scene from Mary Poppins. The building has retained its marble walls and decorative plasterwork ceiling, and gained red leather booth-type seating and neon signage. While the former is a little tacky, I really liked the other ‘barn style’ seating made from raw wood, metal and leather. I also liked the matching solid wood (well stocked) bar that greats you upon entry, and how the menus mirror the style being made of heavy leather.
I could not talk about the interior of Nosh and Quaff without mentioning the bathrooms. The former vaults of the banking house have been converted but still retain all of their original tiling. Victorian pull chain toilets are the ‘main event’, surround by raw copper piping which continues to the design of the wash basins.
One of Nosh and Quaff’s strap lines is ‘Great Lobster, Cold Beers’. We’ll get to the lobster later, but as far as drinks go, this place has a pleasing selection. Whether you’re a beer savant, a cocktail lover or a wine connoisseur, you’ll be satisfied by the menu on offer. As well as the main restaurant, there is also an upstairs bar if drinks is all you’re after. They have a fair selection of entertainment in the loft bar too – great for impromptu after work drinks.
Now for the Nosh! Nosh and Quaff have a simple menu made up of the expected American grill favourites- burgers, ribs, dogs, wings and… lobster! Lobster was the whole reason I wanted to steak out this joint, so naturally I jumped straight for that. My friend went for their Cheeky Burger. Our meal arrived quickly and was hot. The burger was well filled, the buttermilk bun fresh and the filling full of flavour. My lobster arrived (complete with bib and instructions) and was a good size. The garlic and lemon butter sauce complemented the lobster perfectly. The fries were pretty standard. We did not go for sides this time, but the dishes flying out of the kitchen looked tasty and I will definitely be sampling some of those next time. In particular the Blooming Onion definitely looked like a show stopper.
The Cheeky Burger: £14
2 Cokes: £5
Total for 2 people: £39
Overall, I was more pleased that disappointed with Nosh and Quaff. The food, although simple, was cooked with skill, portions a good size and the bill was a pleasing figure. There are, however, a few biggies that I could not do an honest review without mentioning.
The service was a major clanger here. While the food came quickly, a lot of the wait staff were rude and unwelcoming. As we had not booked a table, we were given an hour to eat our meal, but after we spent most of it with an audience of 2 hovering waiters who kept trying to take our plates, we skipped dessert and left with 20 minutes to spare. All of the above would have been a least a little understandable had the restaurant been busy, but it was half empty.
Another issue I have is with the overall concept. London has had the small chain Burger and Lobster for years. Given the reputation of the owners, I was hoping that Nosh and Quaff would have took the concept and ran with it, but the restaurant is disappointingly very similar. I liked how the restrooms were almost steam punk style, and would have loved to have seen a theme like this carried through. There was a missed opportunity to play upon the Victoriana style here, and it’s a real shame. Instead what we have is yet another restaurant with ‘Jam-Jar’ style lighting hanging from the ceiling, copious amounts of reclaimed wood and trays instead of plates.
While the food was tasty, I would have loved to have had a little more choice with the lobster. Perhaps a few different sizes and sauces would be a good way to go considering that lobster is the main draw for a lot of people visiting the restaurant.
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