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.