Noble Rot

Restaurants, British Bloomsbury
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Noble Rot
Ming Tang-Evans

A restaurant and wine bar from the people behind Noble Rot magazine.

You know how when you go to a pop-up, part of the charm is that the existing décor is usually untouched, even if it used to be shop or a loo? Okay, maybe not a loo, but the point is that it then becomes all about the food and service? That’s the vibe at this Bloomsbury newcomer, only it’s not a pop-up, it’s permanent. Unrelated to the swanky Mayfair restaurant and DJ bar of the noughties, this 2015 Noble Rot comes from the pair behind the wine mag of the same name, with a menu from Stephen Harris, owner and chef of celebrated Whitstable pub The Sportsman. On historic Lamb’s Conduit Street, with iconic eatery Cigala opposite, the site was once home to Vats, one of London’s last genuinely old-school wine bars.

Years came, years went, Vats never changed. But for those of you mourning the passing of an old-timer, its soul is still very much alive. It’s all here: the cracked stone floors, the dodgy brown furniture, the bizarre half-height laminate-wood-wall-panelling. (That’s just the top half: the bottom half is still that dark woodland green… we’re a long way from Farrow & Ball, Toto.) Even the vineyard-themed frescos, which the waiter said ‘might be going’ (please no), were still in place. 

In keeping with the retro, unpretentious surrounds, the food is classic, and designed to go with wine. We swooned at the simple marriage of a soft-boiled duck egg with creamy, piquant chilled crab sauce and nicely al dente sprouting broccoli. Equally memorable was a stunning piece of monkfish in a deliciously tangy white wine sauce made with oxidised 1998 Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru (an homage to a fish-and-oxidised-wine dish of the Jura). And we also enjoyed a dish of caramelised roscoff onions (those round, pinkish ones that you hang around your neck if you want to look très très Franch) with toasted hazelnuts and silky ricotta – though something salty to accentuate the sweetness of the onion wouldn’t have gone amiss.

The warm, knowledgeable staff are lovely, while in the front the room, the boisterous spirit of a wine bar is very much alive – hardly surprising, given the affordability of the list (with a sizeable by-the-glass offering kicking off at £3 for a 75ml ‘sampler’, or bottles from £20). Noble Rot may look like a pop-up for grown-ups, but we’re glad it’s here to stay.

By: Tania Ballantine

Posted:

Venue name: Noble Rot
Contact:
Address: 51 Lamb's Conduit St
London
WC1N 3NG
Transport: Tube: Russell Square
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The first thing that strikes you at Noble Rot is the very unusual and not all that appealing name. It turns out it's the name of a fungus that grapes can get that makes them sweeter, and most of the wines on the menu feature this trait. It's primarily a wine bar with a nice selection of bar snacks and a few mains that change daily. When we went on a Thursday night at 6:30, the bar was full but we took a table outside and within about five minutes the other three outdoor tables were taken too. It's located on the lovely and not-at-all-touristy-feeling Lamb's Conduit Street in Holborn. 

The house wine costs only £4 for 125mL but there are a number of other carefully selected wines to choose from as well. The atmosphere inside was loud and buzzing with quite a few people standing. The front room is a bar while in the back there is a dining room.

I had the burrata, delica pumpkin and hazelnut as a main which was delicious. Unfortunately, sitting outside, the only dessert that could be served was the warm chocolate mouse dessert. It was very small and oddly sour and at £7 it seemed over priced. 

The service was very warm and friendly but a bit slow outside as it was so busy inside. I would definitely recommend Noble Rot for upscale after work drinks, or a nice dinner if you can get a table in the dining room.