A good nosh-up, Notting Hill-style

They've done cable TV. Now the Nosh Brothers have opened a restaurant of their own. And it's not all steak and chips
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Antony Worrall Thompson recently closed down his operation in Golborne Road, claiming he couldn't find reliable supplies of organic produce. But as this TV chef moves out of Notting Hill, another two move in. The Nosh Brothers are a pair of rollicking telly tubbies with a background as caterers to the music and film industries, and several books and series to their (made-up) name. Fresh from presenting Costa Del Nosh for the Carlton Food Network, they have now opened a restaurant in All Saints Road, west London, on a patch that used to be notorious for the ready availability of a certain organic produce - until the drug squad prevailed.

Antony Worrall Thompson recently closed down his operation in Golborne Road, claiming he couldn't find reliable supplies of organic produce. But as this TV chef moves out of Notting Hill, another two move in. The Nosh Brothers are a pair of rollicking telly tubbies with a background as caterers to the music and film industries, and several books and series to their (made-up) name. Fresh from presenting Costa Del Nosh for the Carlton Food Network, they have now opened a restaurant in All Saints Road, west London, on a patch that used to be notorious for the ready availability of a certain organic produce - until the drug squad prevailed.

Their road is trendy: the Sugar Club was born here, so too the pop group All Saints, and Paula Yates lives close by. The dining-room created by the Nosh Brothers (like their fellow endomorphs the Blues Brothers, they are not brothers at all) is presided over by Nick Nosh ( né Daw), the chunkier, more hirsute of the pair. Nick's TV role is to make jokes and drink wine while Mick Nosh (Michael Feasey) prepares the food. Generally, it's hearty, trencherman fare such as French onion soup, or steak and kidney pie. For this venture, though, neither Nosh is squeezing into the whites; they have hired Darren Archer, most recently employed by Nico Ladenis, to do the cooking.

It would therefore be wrong, despite the down-to-earth name, to expect Nosh Brothers to be some kind of glorified pie and mash shop. From the expensive design job and daily-changing menu, it's immediately obvious that the place has ambitions. The thin, deep room has been completely refitted in orthodox modern style, a Habitat-catalogue symphony of pale woods, brushed aluminium and modish light fittings. Here and there, the designer has been allowed a flourish, such as the beaded glass and chrome ceiling decoration that looms above the bar like one of Sophie Grigson's earrings.

Sheree, my dinner date, lives just a few streets away, and is always on the lookout for a good neighbourhood restaurant. She hadn't heard of the Nosh Brothers - like most people who work in television, she is far too busy to watch any - but she was prepared to give them a chance. "Anyway," she added brutally, "restaurants come and go along this street so quickly that if we don't like this one, there's bound to be another along in a minute."

The menu offers a short, well-judged selection of modern bistro fare, from the relatively ambitious - roast skate with confit ratte potatoes, rosemary garlic and deep-fried capers - to ever-popular bankers such as sirloin steak and chips.

Olives and home-made bread arrive at once. Then, for me, langoustines, de-shelled and pan-fried, arranged in a pool of rich, bisquey sauce around a swirl of pasta, described on the menu as linguine, but in fact more like Chinese noodles.

Sheree's starter, red wine risotto, had a great texture, nubbly with pancetta and onion, and had obviously been cooked to order. The overall flavour had benefited from the pancetta's smokiness, becoming almost gamy - perfect autumn food, as Sheree said. Her only quibble was with the waitress, who cooed "Enjoy!" when placing our food before us. "I don't like being ordered to enjoy myself. I can do it spontaneously," she humphed. Despite lapses into mid-Atlantic glibness, service from the informed and informal staff was mostly charming. The restaurant had been open only a week or so, but was already fairly busy. Many of the customers appeared to be personal friends of Nick Nosh, although it's just possible that the room contained the entire audience of the Carlton Food Network on their annual outing.

I was pleased to find coq au vin on the menu, a dinner party favourite that is overdue for rehabilitation. My portion was vast, containing a chicken breast and thigh cooked to the point of tenderness rather than collapse, plus wild and field mushrooms and sweet chunks of bacon. And at the end of it all, what better than to be left with a bowl of intense, winey juice, and a good helping of peppery mash to soak it up?

Sheree was equally effusive about her main course, chargrilled sea-bass, which arrived in two good-sized fillets, the skin roughly scorched but the flesh light and juicy. A couscous spiked with chopped pepper and pinenuts looked insubstantial, but packed a lot of flavour, as did a cumin and coriander salsa. The only redundant element was a heap of raw onion on top of the fish. "This wouldn't be very first-date-friendly," Sheree reflected as she scraped them off. This prompted me to recall a first date I'd once endured in the doomed Anonimato, during which my suitor had suddenly pressed his thumb deep into a bruise on my forearm and asked whether I'd enjoyed the film Crash. (It turned out to be a last date, needless to say.)

Maybe it was this retrieved memory that prompted me to finish with a passion-fruit tart, a magical little slice of crisp pastry and delicate custard, zinging with explosions of passion-fruit seeds. Less promising but equally successful was Sheree's orange and fennel jelly, subtle and not over-fennelled.

At almost £50 a head (with aperitifs and wine), Nosh Brothers is expensive for a neighbourhood restaurant. But then, it's an expensive neighbourhood. My guinea-pig Notting Hill resident was impressed, vowing to return with her boyfriend. "I think he'll like it," she mused. "I just won't tell him what it's called."

 

Nosh Brothers, 12 All Saints Road, London W11 (0171-243 2808). Dinner 7.30pm-11.30pm, Mon-Sat (weekend lunches starting soon). Limited disabled access. All cards except Diners Club

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