A RESTAURANT in Taunton is filled to the brim with guests every night. And who knew that traditional Madeiran food would be so popular?

The Skewer House on Bridge Street opened in October 2016, but has since become a busy, vibrant and well-loved eatery in Somerset.

Owners, Diogo and Nathan Nobrega, decided to open the restaurant when they realised they wanted somewhere in Taunton that served the food they loved from Madeira.

Diogo himself is originally Madeiran so the Portuguese food served at The Skewer House is the food he loves and is passionate about.

Love of Madeira

Madeira also holds many special memories for the couple, it was where they held their wedding this January and where they have spent many holidays together.

Diogo said: “My mum has a restaurant in Essex and I worked there when I was growing up. When I met Nathan, they also gave him a job for a few years as front of house.

“We moved to Bridgwater because Nathan’s mum lives down here and we wanted to live somewhere more peaceful.

“When we moved to Bridgwater, we realised the food scene isn’t as diverse as in Essex and we decided to try and do something ourselves.

“So, we opened The Skewer House in Taunton with my mum originally with her backing and guidance. We didn’t know if it was going to work out, but we knew that it was something different.”

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A new business 

So, the couple opened up The Skewer House (directly translated from Casa Das Espetadas – the same restaurants that they have in Madeira).

Diogo explained: “There’s a lot of footwork in any new business. We were just trying to get our name out there. One week, there was just loads of people who came in. Within a month, it went from six tables a night to a completely full restaurant.

“I love English food, but it was about doing something different. I think our success shows that Taunton was looking for something different. And I think there is a customer base here who want to experience different cultures and backgrounds, so I think people should give it a go and open up something like a Mexican or Japanese etc.”

Nathan added: “We always anticipated that we would have to go into tapas, but we have never had to. We literally do eight skewers and eight sides and that’s it.

“The heart of our restaurant is Portuguese, but the mind is English. We have found that this works well because in England we like to have napkins and knives and forks and sauces and so on, so I feel like together we have built something perfect for Taunton.”

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Now, The Skewer House is Nathan and Diogo’s livelihood and they have created a team who are part of their family. With three or four people in the kitchen and around the same on front of house, all the staff are certainly kept busy.

As they are busy, Nathan made the decision to only take bookings via Facebook and email, so that when customers are in enjoying the food, the staff are not distracted by running off to answer the phone and take bookings.

Share the Skewers 

The skewers comes from traditional Madeiran cuisine, which both Nathan and Diogo love. During the Madeira street festivals, you will find stalls with skewers on and then a massive fire pit, for you and other people to cook their skewer.

Diogo said: “Back in Madeira, it is simple food. They only do beef and they give you a skewer for however many people and will just bring out some sides. It is just the way it is done.

“The plates, curtain fabric, hats and so on come from Madeira.”

Nathan added: “We have basically westernised this idea and brought it to Taunton.”

Diogo explained that The Skewer House is all about simplicity. He believes that sometimes restaurants overthink the seasoning and presentation and the dishes become too fancy and too overcomplicated.

He added: “We just create simple food with simple seasoning and a lot of love and care.”

One thing they do use a lot of within the dishes at The Skewer House is garlic.

Nathan explained: “I would say that 99% of people love garlic but they are scared to use it in their cooking. We are not scared to use it.

“It is the one thing that grows abundantly in Madeira and people over there are so healthy and I think it is garlic. We don’t use it in our diet over here – salt is what we love in England!”

Another unlikely food that has become incredibly popular at The Skewer House is cheesecake. Nathan started to take pictures of desserts to post on social media and suddenly they were getting orders for cheesecakes before guests even arrived for dinner.

“It has got the point where customers will officially complain if we don’t have cheesecake on the menu” explained Diogo.

Now, Nathan creates custom cheesecakes that people can pick up from the restaurant, he is even considering opening a cheesecake shop too! Or maybe they should start calling it, ‘The Skewer and Cheesecake House’ - who knows!

If you fancy a skewer (or some cheesecake), or would like to find out more, please visit www.skewerhousetaunton.co.uk