Brosh review

Boasting a sublime menu of ‘Eastern Mediterranean’ cuisine, with fine Gloucestershire-sourced ingredients whipped-up by a chef who has rubbed shoulders with Jamie Oliver at London’s River Café, wonders why Brosh in Cheltenham isn’t packed to the rafters?

If Brosh was situated in one of London’s fashionable dining districts it would undoubtedly be packed to the rafters every night of the week, with weekend tables requiring booking months in advance, for the chance to sample chef Raviv Hadad’s refined cuisine. Nestled along Cheltenham’s fashionable Suffolk Parade Brosh does indeed attract its fair share of weekend diners, but on our mid-week visit the cosy restaurant was frustratingly quiet.

Sure, Cheltenham is no stranger to decent restaurants offering a culinary choice spanning the globe – from incredible Italians to late-night Indian emporiums, not to mention the family-favourite chains serving-up predictable British or American fare – but the independent, family-run restaurant Brosh is doing something decidedly different.

‘We Brits are used to our meat and two veg, but that’s definitely not what we’re doing here,’ co-owner Sharon Hadad told us, before adding: ‘We realise we’re not a safe option, we serve dishes which many people have never heard of never mind have tried before.’ But over the past three years since opening, Brosh has quietly gone about attracting a loyal band of dedicated regulars while word of the restaurant has been whispered through Gloucestershire’s gastronomic circles.

From the offset the idea of meat and two veg couldn’t have been further from the truth, as appetites were whet with sourdough bread, freshly baked on the premises that day, used to scoop up every last bit of moreish, smooth hummus with wild thyme – a dish smacking of authentic Middle Eastern flavours.

For starters the recommended barley salad was equally triumphant – a unique plate of strong rocket and coriander, worked through with plump barley grains, sticky sweet preserved figs and a smattering of pistachio nuts to make for a truly outstanding dish unlike anything we had ever come across. In an altogether different dish, the natural sugars had been tempted out of a thin layer of fried aubergine, wrapped around roast almond and tomato to create a texturally accomplished combination which, drizzled with tahina and honey dressing, was one which did wonders for the taste buds too.

It was refreshing to see local chicken – sourced from a Newent farm – taken out of its roast dinner comfort zone, instead coming chargrilled and served alongside a carefully thought out marriage of bulger wheat, chickpeas, beef, corgette, mint and caramelised onion, for a light main course of which every last mouthful was scraped up.

And while the praises were sung for the poultry panache across the table, my succulent best end cutlets of lamb from Hill View Farm in Winchcombe left me altogether speechless. The pink, tender meat on the three generous cutlets provided a deep flavour you could never hope to find with supermarket produce, served alongside rich tanzia and puy lentils, with sweet apricots and prunes, to create a hearty, warming and expertly-crafted signature dish perfect for the autumnal weather blowing outside.

While Brosh’s menu is changed regularly to make the most of the best seasonal produce available, the Haroset ice-cream, with cardamom, fennel, hazelnuts and sultanas (characteristic of food served during the Jewish Passover), is one of the only dishes to make a permanent appearance. And it wasn’t hard to see why, as the decidedly grown-up choice of desert combined the aromatic flavours to full effect. Across the table and the baklawa wasn’t the layer upon layer of crisp filo pastry we expected, but nonetheless was a staple sweet of roast pistachios and almonds in fragrant orange blossom syrup.

As we sat sipping cardamom coffee soaking up the restaurant’s Moroccan-riad-style ambience – featuring tastefully minimalist white walls, dark furniture and carefully positioned lights creating shadowy patterns across the relaxed dining room – we couldn’t help wonder why Brosh wasn’t busier. But as whispers of the bold restaurant’s culinary wizardry spreads across the county, we will be watching for the anticipated waiting lists to come – as Gloucestershire’s diners break away from the safer dining options, and clamour for something altogether more memorable.

The average price for a three-course meal for two at Brosh, excluding drinks, is around £50.

By James Fyrne

© SoGlos
Sunday 21 October 2007

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