There's been a spate of wine bar openings in London in the last couple of years and so, in the interests of pure research, I attended the launch party of the newest one last week - Noble Rot Restaurant & Wine Bar.
It’s the project of the canny people behind the irreverent wine magazine (also called) Noble Rot, one of which is Mark Andrew, formerly of Roberson Wine and one of the key people in making that business the most exciting Californian wine merchant in the country.
Anyway – back to the bar. It can be found halfway down Lamb’s Conduit Street in Bloomsbury, which is one of London’s coolest streets thanks to its mish-mash of high-class independent businesses from clothing stores to bookshops. The site itself used to be Vat’s Wine Bar, which in recent years traded on its retro-cool status (it was built in the 1700s after all), but as much as I love a bit of retro-cool-ness, the wine list and food were pretty shocking.
Thankfully, the Noble Rot guys have got their priorities right. The interior might not have had its makeover yet (!) but the wine list is now fantastic, and the food is firmly in the 21st Century.
So, the night we (David and I, as it happens) went... We were treated to all kinds of delicious treats – Billecart-Salmon, Adega de Monçao Vinho Verde, Vocoret Chablis from magnum and then a delicious Syrah and Carignan blend from the south of France, served in this whopper of a bottle (see right). We then scanned the wine list to see what we could buy and I came away with a bottle from the brilliant Broc Cellars in California, a beautifully elegant Zinfandel. The wine list - as you'd expect - is properly exciting for winos, it has everything from underrated gems to classics to rare delights as well as mature vintages from producers like Jean-Louis Chave, Armand Rousseau, Château Latour and Domaine Tempier. And we're promised all these at reasonable prices too.
Speaking of delicious treats, the canapes showcased the menu that comes courtesy of Stephen Harris, formerly of the Michelin-starred The Sportsman. We devoured rock oysters, salt cod brandade, monkfish in batter (see below) and duck hearts on braised chicory. I'm only slightly disappointed we didn't get a taster of the turbot braised in oxidised 1998 Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru (how amazing does *that* sound?!?) but that's just me being greedy.
Lamb’s Conduit Street has become even more of a destination thanks to Noble Rot Restaurant & Wine Bar, something I didn't think was possible.
In other words, go check it out!