Chefs, Stephen Harris and Paul Weaver from the Michelin-starred The Sportsman in Whitstable have revitalised the kitchen of this homely, wine bar, founded in the 1970s, but originally built in 1700.
Lesser know wine producers
The Noble Rot Magazine
A touch of The Sportsman in Bloomsbury
‘The list at Noble Rot has always been a collection of wines and producers that we love to drink, rather than an exercise in ticking boxes or covering bases,’ says Mark Andrew, co-founder, with Dan Keeling of the characterful Bloomsbury wine bar, restaurant and also magazine of the same title. ‘As a result there are always lots of Burgundies and other French, as well as exciting artisanal wines from up and coming regions. The list changes all the time as we pick up parcels of mature wines often in very small quantities, never to be seen again...’
Keeling, garlanded with wine writing awards from Louis Roederer and Fortnum & Mason, was previously MD of Island Records and head of Artists and Repertoire at Parlophone where he signed Coldplay, Bombay Bicycle Club and Lily Allen, while Andrew worked for a decade at Roberson Wine as head buyer, becoming a Master of Wine in 2017.
The list shows the same humour as the magazine, with engaging introductions. ‘ls anything less than amazing after a glass or two of good Champagne?’ is a fair question posed, while another paragraph reads, ‘Many people claim they “don’t like Chardonnay”, but at Noble Rot we think that’s a bit like saying you don’t like chicken based on KFC, or disliking all music because of Robbie Williams.’ Another is, ‘Noble Rot might never have existed had it not been for our love for the Languedoc’s two finest cult domaines: Grange Des Peres and Peyre Rose.’ And of course, ‘With a name like Noble Rot, the wine list would be incomplete without a selection of top dessert wines…’
‘Franglaise’ dishes by head chef, Paul Weaver and consultant chef, Stephen Harris of The Sportsman, perhaps preceded by a Czech Sekt or Gaston Chiquet Black Velvet may include duck and guinea fowl hearts, followed by grilled Tamworth pork chop, with white beans and bramley apple sauce, or braised Cornish turbot with bisque of fennel and langoustine, then pistachio cake with mascarpone.
incidentally, snce its launch in 2013, Noble Rot magazine has seen, says Andrew, chefs Pierre Koffmann, Fergus Henderson and Yotam Ottolenghi ‘rubbing shoulders’ with Keira Knightley, Caitlin Moran, Brian Eno and Francis Ford Coppola, ‘blurring the boundaries between gastronomy and the creative arts.’ Contributors include Marina O’Loughlin, Rowley Leigh, John Niven, Neal Martin, Jamie Goode, Kate Spicer and Jon Bonné. ‘Many of the wines and producers featured in the publication can be found on the wine list.’
By Douglas Blyde.
Expect a tangibly tasty bar-and-restaurant menu, where Colchester rock oysters (we found a pearl in ours) might be offered alongside perky gazpacho with smoked eel and chervil, and bigger dishes such as Landes guinea fowl with bright vin jaune sauce and game in season.
More than 25 wines are served by the glass, most of which hail from the Old World, including a Tenerife blend supplemented by intriguing, wine-slaked cocktails, such as the Noble Rotter (Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes 2, lime, mint and ice). The list is divided by region and sentiment, such as Pinot Noir / The Heartbreak Grape, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot & friends Bordeaux / So un-cool it’s cool.As well as hallowed French regions, Spain gets a good look-in, including older bottles such as Perez Pascuas, Vina Pedrosa (Ribera del Duero) from 1990.