Sit back, relax, and listen as we write ourselves out of a job.
There is no way to describe Noble Rot. To try and capture this charmer of a wine bar and restaurant in Bloomsbury would be like trying to describe that glorious suspended second right before you kiss someone for the first time. Mouth dry, pulse sprinting, vision kaleidoscoping to a blur of pores and eyelashes. You can try to write it down, try to explain it with hyperbole and theatrical hand gestures, but each meal at Noble Rot has the makings of a core memory. You don’t want to read about it, you need to live it.
From picturesque Lamb’s Conduit Street, you'll spot the signature burgundy frontage, conveniently the exact shade of the cabernet franc you’re about to sip between nibbles of twinkling Iberico. Feel that? It’s your cortisol levels dropping and your appetite for slip sole with smoked butter ramping up. Inside the converted 18th-century townhouse, the casual drop-in wine bar is up front with tea lights that are fated for flirting over and at the back is a proper sit-down dining room where hours dilute to seconds. The moody space is bookmarked by a dark ceiling and walnut floorboards, inside-joke modern art prints lit by old-school brass wall lights. It’s a room for sharing secrets with your oldest friends and impressing that literary client you just met amid the hum of casual conversation and bites of London’s best bread.
Whether you’re here for a glass or a bottle, a bite or a feast, order the bread. The signature Noble Rot medley of soda, focaccia, and sourdough are our own personal carbohydrate icons. Don’t make us use the word fluffy or worse, moist, just go and eat it. The rest of the menu is a seasonal trust fall, where a rotation of whole buttery fish, confit garlic, and tender pieces of perfectly pink meat will catch you time after time. There might be a naughty little comté beignet on the menu, or deliriously creamy rice pudding destined for two spoons and hands held beneath tables. The seasons change, pumpkin and sage replaces asparagus and tomatoes. Noble Rot and—majestic news for our anxious attachment style—its bread remains. As does the irresistible £22 three-course lunch set menu.
That’s the thing about Noble Rot—they want everyone to get involved. Come after work for a £7 glass of wine and a plate of glistening Iberico or for a three-course meal matched with a three-digit bottle of 1970 l’Eglise-Clinet Bordeaux. We’ve done both. The service will be exactly the same—calming and conversational, never fussy. Even if the extent of your wine knowledge is that it’s grape juice with the profound ability to make you like everyone’s Instagram stories, there will be no judgement as you navigate the 30-page wine list. They’ll help you pick what to drink and we promise you’ll like it. The rest—the who, the when, and the why not order another glass conversation—is up to you. Enough words. Go and live it.
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The food at Noble Rot changes regularly, but here’s an idea of what you can expect.
A plate of perfect carbohydrates that will make you want to do something feral like shout its praises from a rooftop or, we don’t know, keep a gratitude journal. For £4.50 you get the springboard focaccia and the light bitter tang of the soda bread, both of which are baked in-house daily. You also get two slices of sourdough that’s shipped in from a Cornish farm and tastes like it’s been ordained by some cosmic mushroom. Oh, you also get a uniform blob of rich butter which you should use sparingly so you really get to enjoy all that funky yeast action. Your favourite will be whichever one you are chewing at the time.
Formal title: Senorio Iberico Bellota Paleta D.O.P. We’re on a first name basis, so we just call it ham, or after our second glass of pinot blanc, honey bun. It shines like it knows it’s got star quality, and has that tender nutty flavour that sings alongside the right glass of wine.
The slipsole is Noble Rot’s calling card in butter fish form. It’s always on the menu and it should always be on your table. It peels off the bone and has a smoky glaze that will live in your mind, rent free, until you eat it again.
Noble Rot is the kind of place where the menu lists three ingredients that all sound relatively tragic—smoked eel, celeriac, soft-boiled egg—then you're presented with one of the most delightful things you’ve ever eaten. Ta-dah. Whether it’s the simplicity of a well-dressed seasonal salad or snails that have got the confit garlic treatment, know that the menu description never gives away the magic of what you’re about to eat.
Vegetable tart. Big meat. Big fish. This is loosely how you might describe the mains at Noble Rot, but that would be like describing a Beyoncé album as song, another song, and hey look, another song. It’s a massive undersell for dishes that match tiny sweet brown shrimp with something searingly buttery from the sea, or craft a herby bed of lovage for the leg of a roast Loire guinea fowl. It’s earth meets sky, meets sea, meets fields, and they always hit the mark.
Hint: anything involving borlotti beans at Noble Rot tends to be particularly magnificent.
Noble Rot loves to play the hits when it comes to dessert. A lip-smackingly rich warm chocolate mousse. A rice pudding with a cheeky dusting of pistachio. A double-decker rhubarb millefeuille with a ginger surprise that lingers after each mouthful. They are always indulgent and prime stomach real estate must be reserved for one of the sweet offerings, even if it’s shared.