Noble Rot: simple excellence

Here’s an homage to great wine and simple food. And to the happy marriage of these two bedfellows

Wines that are more interesting and exciting than the the usual line-up of dullness on supermarket shelves.
Dishes that don’t involve a chef showing off his bulging spherifications to try to seduce Monsieur Michelin to bestow a star.
Ones instead based on good ingredients treated with respect and understated skill.
Noble Rot – the much-vaunted wine bar and restaurant in Bloomsbury just a short distance from the hell-hole that is Euston Station – delivers on both these fronts.

The meal and drinks

A long Saturday lunch began with green olives – vivid in colour and flavour – partnered with a glass of Tio Pepe Fino En Rama, an unfiltered wine that juggles elegance and verve, delivers salty notes and floral characteristics.
For me after a starter of lamb sweetbreads cooked so that they retained their softness, their natural sweetness offset by a zingy salsa verde.
The freshness of light Austrian red worked beautifully with the dish.
Opposite was a whole simply presented slip sole served on the bone with a smoked butter sauce spiced with paprika.
A 1er cru white burgundy, served no where near as chilled as less accomplished places would dare serve it, had the weight to complement the dish.
A complementary bowl of gazpacho with smoked eel was fresh but had a real depth of flavour.
Fo me afterwards came a breast and leg of guinea fowl, both gorgeously tasty and succulent, with chopped spring greens, morels, sautéed new spuds and a light cream sauce.
The Cretian wine I drank was, like the preceding Austrian, a lighter red, with plenty of vibrancy.
A plate of lamb with cream aubergine and verdant broad beans was equally well received and was partnered by the other sibling – and weightier – sibling wine of the Cretian red I was drinking.
A glazed lemon tart – brûlée layer perfect, filling soft and beautifully balanced, pastry short and crisp – was delightful with a glass of win from pressings that didn’t make it in to Chateau d’Yquem’s first wine.
It lacked the complexity of the premier cru, but was still a mighty complex and luscious mouthful.
A sweet wine from the Juru had the ballsy oxidised sweetness to cope with a warm chocolate mousse that looked fabulous.
All of which provided happy memories for the rail journey back to Birmingham, which, incidentally soon gets a wine bar and kitchen of its own.
Cheval Blanc – a project with which I’m involved – opens in Moseley early next month.

Need to know

The bill for two, with food, wine and coffee, came to £170 including service.
Noble Rot serves bar snacks, too, which would cut costs.
There are vegetarian options.

Noble Rot Restaurant & Wine Bar
51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB. 0207 242 8963.

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