Starring role for Nomad Brothers’ vibrant dishes at the Gipsy Queen
30 September, 2021 — By Tom Moggach
Nomad Brothers’ food is 80 per cent traditional Turkish recipes
THE fuel crisis has highlighted yet another job we take for granted – the lonely, sedentary life of the HGV driver.
To cook in restaurants, on the other hand, you spend long hours on your feet. It’s another tough profession, powered by adrenaline and the social buzz of hospitality.
Fortunately, chef Appo Kalkan has been in training for years. He’s the friendly face at Nomad Brothers, a Turkish pop-up that he runs with his brother at The Gipsy Queen pub in NW5.
“I’ve grown up in the kitchen,” says Appo, after another busy service. “I’ve been cooking since I was 12; head chef at 15.”
He describes his journey from Gaziantep to his first solo restaurant in Istanbul, plus a stint in high-end film catering.
His latest venture is proving a neat fit for The Gipsy Queen, an excellent pub in Kentish Town.
It’s a beautiful building – a little off the beaten track – with a huge range of craft beers and a secret garden out the back.
Regular events include a Sunday quiz and Craft Monday, where you can buy a guest brew then get the second half price. On Tuesday evenings, tapas-size portions of the food cost just £3.50.
The Nomad Brothers’ menu focuses on meze and Turkish street food – a mix of small plates and larger dishes such as the Shwarmageddon, a wrap stuffed with mixed grilled meats.
Vegetarian dishes include falafel or grilled aubergine served with wheat pilaf, garlic sauce, broccoli and grilled tomato.
“It’s 80 per cent traditional Turkish recipes, often 200 years old,” the chef explains. “For the other 20 per cent I give my experience and create them with my brother.”
We started with crisp Borek pastries, filled with feta and finely chopped parsley. Popcorn halloumi was a stunner: golden fried cubes of squeaky cheese, served with a dip of sweet chilli.
There are plenty of fried foods that pair beautifully with a drink. The brothers offer three takes on chips, for example, with spicy Turkish fries, Galatasafries and an Istanbul Poutine, slathered with cheese and homemade gravy.
Turkish food, however, is renowned for its fresh vegetables and herbs. We shared a vibrant salad and the Hummucidal Maniacs meze – a plate of hummus, tzatziki, chilli tomato, baba ganoush and warm flatbreads. Dessert was one of the brothers’ own creations and ideal for autumn: an apple pancake with caramelised brown sugar, walnuts, chocolate sauce and ice cream.
Prices are keen, at around £12 for large plates and £6 for small. Last time I popped in, I found Appo chatting with his old friends from film catering.
It’s not been the same since Covid, they explained, as new rules and social distancing means there’s less banter with the crew.
A pub in NW5 may be a long way from a film set, but the Nomad Brothers’ food is proving to be a star attraction in its own right.
The Gipsy Queen
166 Malden Road, NW5
020 3092 0598