Back in the blighted 2021, I had been scheduled to go to trendy Toklas (the veggie bean and turnip stew option – £18 – one of two mains options on the set menu we were operating under sounded very much like “Grubs up in the gulag, you bourgeois pigs”, with the only other main option an equally uninspiring grill chicken) for a(n up the) work(er)s Christmas do in December. I am sure it would have been very nice, but the descriptions didn’t really sell the food to me.
The plague 2.0 (Omicron – when I started writing this post Omigeddon was being threatened by modellers, who are currently forecasting an Italian Grand Slam in the 6 Nations with them averaging 20 tries a game and conceding none and Qatar beating Spain 59 – 0 in the Football World Cup final, but thankfully we seem to have fallen a tad short of their apocalyptic forecasts) scuppered that plan, with Plan B coming in in England.
Despite the last minute cancellation and the lose of my firm paid for train ticket, I had arranged to see my Dad that weekend so decided to made the trip up anyway at my own expense – it being Christmas and all – despite that bringing scrooge like muttering from me.
The venue of choice for a meal out was Noble Rot in Soho, which is their second place in London We did try, but couldn’t get into, the original Lamb’s Conduit site.
I know all the talk at the time was of cancellations due to Plan B and Plan B + here in Wales and I very much felt for Cardiff restaurant owners, who seemed to suffer a tsunami of cancellations in the Christmas run up,
but the only table I could get in London (anywhere decent) was at the ungodly hour of 17.00 on a Friday (this was after trying about 10 places for a lunch time slot two weeks before my trip) Too late for lunch and too early for dinner in my book, this made it sort of “luinner” I suppose. Not as catchy as my name for a meal between breakfast and dinner over the festive period, in the form of the ‘Yule Brinner“.
Despite the hour, I was famished (having only eaten breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea – only one of these is true) and as such the nice looking menu was very much to my liking.
We started off with some absolutely bobby dazzler choux buns filled with duck liver parfait and topped with tokaji (a Hungarian sweet wine) jelly (£3 a pop).
Pretty much my perfect nibble these, with a gloriously rich interior encased by a light choux shell, topped with a decadant mix of the sweet tokaji jelly and salty cheese.
Bread (£4.50 😬) was also top notch, with a nice selection and properly salty butter.
On to the starters, I went for the spätzle (£12), as I have always enjoyed this Germanic take on pasta. It has the same ability as other pastas in terms of sauces clinging to it and flavour absorption and served that role admirably here.
Without the bitterness of the chiffonades of radicchio, this might have been a bit rich. The balancing out of primary flavours, however, all worked very well. Proper comfort food, with a touch of style, this.
Other starters were a lovely (and chunky) bit of smoked eel (£14).
Not over smoked, the rich fattiness of the eel was nicely offset by an apple, kolrabi, sorrel and potato salad.
The star of the starter, however, was a capaccio of cold roasted veal with anchoiade (£11.50).
Blushing pink, wafer thin, slices of rose veal were packed with flavour and nicely tee’d off by the umaminess of the anchoiade.
As nice as my spätzke was I can’t quite fathom why it was pricer than the veal.
Whilst there was plenty of interest on the mains element of the menu (not least the John Dory and the lamb shoulder), we were all drawn to the sharing main in the form of chicken with a morel and vin jaune (a wine from the Jura region in France aged under flor like sherry) sauce (£70).
Easily enough for three, especially as my father and his partner don’t eat as much as me (no fool me encouraging this to be ordered), this was just the absolute business.
Fantastic chicken, full of flavour, succulent and with a beautifully crisp and salted skin.
The morels added an intense earthiness to the dish, whilst the vin jaune added spikey funky notes, nutty spiciness and acidity to the creamy sauce. Sublime stuff.
It came with fragant pilaf rice, which was cooked on point with just a touch of bite giving it a nice nuttiness. Great for mopping up the abundant and not to be wasted vin jaune sauce.
We added some (seemingly very in vogue) sprout tops as a side, which worked rather well and brought the freshness of spring greens to the table with just a hint to sprouty bitterness. Rather like these.
All made for a very hearty and heart warming dish.
Easily enough for 3 (I had two portions), I think you would have to be right pigs to tackle this as a for 2 dish (paging J).
Two of us passed on dessert, but my father (who has a sweet tooth) couldn’t resist the lure of a chocolate mousse Here it came with a boozy cognac soaked prune and a hazelnut biscuit.
I didn’t get a look in so can’t tell you what it was like, but he rather enjoyed it.
A big lure of Noble Rot, for the likes of me and my father (from whom I caught the wine bug off), is their wine list which is bibical in size and comes via an ipad.
There is a decent selection of wines by the glass
and some very interesting specials if you are feeling flush.
My father’s initial reaction to the specials board was “Gosh those are cheap!”until I told him to put his glasses on and then he clocked it was 75/125ml not cl. As the Yquem 1997 retails at £250 + for a 50 cl bottle, £41 for 75ml pour ain’t that bad actually.
As the Noble Rot in Soho is on Greek Street it seemed apt to go Greek (very exciting and a very under appreciated wine region, certainly in UK, in my opinion).
We chose a Santorini number in the form of a Argyros Atlantis White (£52 – retails at around the £20 mark), from the assyrtiko grape,
which was a lovely drop with a big hit of citrus (think preserved lemons) and coastal/saline notes. Very zippy and refreshing, it worked a treat with the richness of our starters.
We then moved on to the reds on the list and I spied a Sierra de Gredos wine (high altittude garnacha, that is almost pinot noir in character) on the list in the form of a Daniel Landi Las Uvas de la Ira (£55 – retails at around the £28 mark, so pretty fair price).
Firm favourite of mine (bought a bottle from my collection as corkage to Lee Skeet’s 40 days and 40 nights in November), this is a lovely wine.
Perfumed with lavender, leather and a touch on anise, on the palate it had strawberry, sour cherry and a touch of spice, as well as a nice refreshing acidity. This is a great example of how good Sierra de Gredos wines can be and it is not hideously expensive.
Just fantastic with the chicken dish.
I really like Noble Rot, which combines classic food done very well with a great wine list to boot. Can’t go wrong with that combo can you.
It ain’t cheap, but nice things rarely are and on an enjoyment to price ratio it scores pretty highly in my opinion.
They do have a lunch menu, which at £18 for 2 course and £22 for 3 looks excellent value.
Would I go back? Absolutely, would be just rotten if I couldn’t.
Interesting to see they have expanded the wine element to a retail offering called Shrine to the Vine
Interesting list, with some nice, off the beaten track, stuff on it.
Soho: 2 Greek Street, Soho, London W1D 4NB (one visited
Lamb’s Conduit: 51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3NB
On balance I do think I prefer the Lamb’s Conduit site as you can have just a drink and bar snacks there,
as well as a full on meal (only the latter is available at the Greek Street site).
Still the Greek Street site is an absolutely cracking place for lunch, dinner or even luinner if in London