Do you like music? You’ll love the Beatles. Enjoy movies? Check out a little gem known as ‘The Godfather’. Fan of the dramatic arts? Do yourself a favour, mate: Shakespeare. Thank me later.
Am I about to compare Noble Rot to Shakespeare? No! Kind of. It’s more that if you’re a fan of really nice food and wine you should definitely go to Noble Rot. It is a no-brainer. Anything I write after this point is garnish. When, one lunchtime, I walked into the Bloomsbury restaurant and wine bar, a blissful calm set over me, similar to how the barefoot pilgrim Louis IV must have felt on arriving at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. Some divine harmony, running through the mellow decor, extending into the staff and finally through the menu and wine list. Everything is on point. Everything is nice.
The bread is a Rush-esque power trio of carbohydrates: soda, focaccia, and sourdough selflessly working together to achieve a common goal. The slipsole - a kind of buttery, beautiful ellipse - may well be the restaurant’s special move. This fish is a soft and smokey wonder that refuses to not be eaten. Similarly charismatic were the comte beignets. Dusted in parmesan and served with pickled walnut ketchup (a more well-read and worldly Daddies Sauce), these bad boys made me flout my own ‘no more oily crispy things filled with hot goo’ rule.
Crucially everything tasted of something. This shouldn’t be a remarkable quality in a restaurant, but how often have you paid through the nose for some beautifully presented but basically ambient dish that passes you by in a kind of flavourless haze? Every bite at Noble Rot was followed by a wallop of gusto.
Best of all: the set lunch menu. A barnstorming pickled herring dish (which might have been the best thing we ate, tbh), confit duck with lentils, cabbage and mustard for a main (L'Escargot could never), finishing with a hazelnut mousse with a sort of crunchy cocoa fascinator. Dank. In a good way. The fact the whole thing came to thirty-something quid including a few glasses of delicious chablis only increased the dankness.
Noble Rot is an egalitarian vision of what proper dining in London could and should be. This is a place where you’ll feel equally welcome popping in for a solo glass of wine at the bar or catching up with old friends over a sprawling lunch. Noble Rot is proof that restaurants can have tangible, human qualities. If this place was a person you’d want to be their mate. Or marry it.
I would marry Noble Rot.
The vibe: A warm hug from a beloved, cackling friend. The feeling of your sweetheart slipping their hand into yours. Aromas drifting from your mother’s kitchen. Noble Rot is all of this and more.
The food: Honest, basic food done in a loving, clever way.
The drink: Noble Rot made its name as a wine bar before it evolved into its current form. Loads of interesting bottles from all over the world and some cracking options by the glass too.
Time Out Tip: The lunch menu is unbelievably good value for what it is.