Monday 11 April 2016

Noble Rot Bar, London

Following on from my talk of yuppies in my Chez Bruce post (and my obvious love of a topical reference), as a non drinker my frame of reference for a ‘suave wine bar’ has always been James Willmott-Brown’s The Dagmar. So when I told my wino wife that we were going to a wine bar in London, she was pleasantly surprised.

To earn brownie points, I naturally told her this was because I always get my own way when choosing restaurants and it was about time I considered her tastes more… how uncharacteristically magnanimous of me (what I failed to mention was that the food at Noble Rot Wine Bar & Restaurant is overseen by Chef Stephen Harris from the exceptional Michelin starred The Sportsman in Kent.) Head Chef Paul Weaver mans the stoves. 

Any doubts I had about visiting “a trendy wine bar” vanished the moment we stepped through the door.

Any restaurateur can find premises, decorate them and hire a decent chef but it takes a genius or celestial intervention from Saint Martha herself to create the perfect atmosphere – the folk behind Noble Rot are either extremely astute or pray a great deal. Possibly both.

A cartoon in the loos. 

From the moment we walked through the door, even before I tasted the food, I somehow knew Noble Rot would be up there with other places I’ve fallen in love with at first sight – some others including Fergus Henderson’s St. John, Lyle’s, Le Chateaubriand in Paris and, closer to home, Volta in Manchester.  

A growing trend for ‘small plates menus’ suits my wife and I as we both like to try different things and share. Although not listed as ‘small plates’ or ‘starters’  Noble Rot’s menu was set up with several dishes priced under £10 and a choice of just four ‘larger dishes’ prices between £14 and £28. The easy option for us was to order the entire top section of the menu… as it happened this was enough to fill us (but we did order a dessert, out of good manners). 

Apologies for the poor quality pictures.

Quality Olives #Natch

As you’d expect, from The Sportsman connection, the oysters were ace – I went for two Whitstable Natives and a Rock Oyster Raveneau with apple vinegar, apple granita and powdered seaweed.

With its intense flavour I generally prefer a good paleta over jamón and this Señorío Ibérico Bellota Paleta D.O.P did not disappoint.

With the first bite the dish of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, Romesco & Spring Onion whisked me away to the Italian countryside. When all that was left was an oily plate… “Blam!” I was back in the room.

The chef d'oeuvre at The Sportsman is arguably the slip sole with seaweed butter, Noble Rot’s reworking is the ocherous Slip Sole & Smoked Butter – a fiery piece of fishy perfection flavoured with a better made with smoked salt, paprika and Espelette pepper.

With varying degrees of success many chefs attempt to reinvent the classic steak tartare, this was one of the better efforts – Raw Welsh Black Beef & Hedgehog Mushroom with rings of pickled onion and artichoke crisps.  

The Smoked Eel, Rhubarb & Soda Bread was a creative, deftly balanced and cleverly textured dish - sweet, tart, smoky, creamy with a hearteningly heavy bread base and meaty smoked eel.

Duck Hearts, Fennel & Wild Garlic – in this appealingly simple, incredibly satisfying and intensely flavoured dish, the duck hearts filled me with obvious joy but it was the pickled fennel (it also came braised) that made me squeal with delight.

After a day of eating, I was too probably to full to order a dessert but I had seen Marina O'Loughlin refer to the Pistachio Cake, Blood Orange & Mascarpone as “Blissful” and couldn’t leave without sampling it – what she hadn’t commented on the was texture – the outside edge of the cake was so wonderfully chewy, I could have eaten the whole thing! (By this, I mean the whole cake, not just the whole slice).


Invited by PR company?
Guest of the chef / restaurant?
Restaurant knew I was a blogger ahead of ordering?
Was the meal comped by the restaurant?
Was any discount given?
Any complimentary items provided?

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