51 Lambs Conduit Street, WC1N 3NB
WLC Rank : 23
Glass from : £ 5 (125 ml)
BEST FORA touch of The Sportsman in Bloomsbury
The Noble Rot Magazine
Abundant range of 75ml tasters
Coravin ’specials’ board
Chefs, Stephen Harris and Paul Weaver from the Michelin-starred The Sportsman in Whitstable offer "Franglais' plates in this homely, Parisian-style wine bar in Bloomsbury.
Previously Vats, which Australian sommelier, Josh Castle called, “a late-night boozer for lawyers,” today’s much souped-up version of Noble Rot is brought to you by dynamic duo Dan Keeling, former MD of Island Records and head of Artists and Repertoire at Parlophone, and Master of Wine, Mark Andrew. Previously head buyer for Roberson wines, Andrew’s research paper, “How can dry Assyrtiko from Santorini establish itself as a recognised ‘fine wine’ in the eyes of London’s premium on-trade?”, ensures plentiful filigree versions of that grape are included on the tremendously exciting wine list. That document, supplemented by a daily specials Coravin board which causes wine aficionados to “drool,” says Castle includes wines hitherto available only on merchant allocation.
Castle studied art and believes, “wine and art are similar, both being collected cultural artefacts.” To calm his student debt, he worked at City Wine Shop, Melbourne in a “warren-like tall building” opposite Parliament House which includes The European restaurant and its defiantly old-world wine list. He also staged at Joran winery, Stellenbosch “as part of a small team doing a big harvest, getting a chance to do everything.” His first job in the UK was at the Oxford Wine Company, being “a soft landing into the UK.” However, Noble Rot would better sate his thirst for vinous “esoterica” alongside rested wines from classic, hallowed producers. “When I came for the interview, they’d just received the Fourier order for that week and my eyes lit up. In at the ‘pointy’ end!”
Castle helps ensure a plentiful supply of desirable wines between £50-60, “which is where the trade drinks at,” including a “swollen” Beaujolais section, and, in honour of a previous employee who has gone to work there, the skin contact Ageno from La Stoppa. The downtime of the lockdown enabled the team to renovate guest bathrooms. “Since lockdown we’ve noticed that drinkers have become more adventurous, and so stocked up with an extensive range of minimal intervention wines from Tenerife, Greece, Hungary and South Africa.”
Alongside the wine bar and restaurant is the well-established Noble Rot magazine, featuring a starry list of contributors and provocative artwork.
Realised by head chef, Paul Weaver are the dishes of consultant chef, Stephen Harris of Whitstable’s The Sportsman. These may include Yorkshire pheasant with duck fat potatoes and Devonshire turbot resourcefully braised in oxidised Chablis. Produce can be so fresh it is “cycled in for service that night” says Castle.
Motivated by vinous discovery, Noble Rot’s team traditionally spend much time visiting producers old and new. “I still try to do a harvest each year, including Hambledon for tirage, Burgundy and Penedes – which sparked a love of the dry reds and whites of Catalunya,” says Castle.
Featuring several Hungarian wines, Noble Rot’s second restaurant occurs in the former Gay Hussar, Soho. “We don’t want to take a landmark away from London,” says Castle of the reverential list. It features such dishes as the daily goulash, alongside chef Alex Jackson’s pâte aux herbes and a whole roast chicken with morels and Vin Jaune for two to share.
By Douglas Blyde.