Like a small-cap biotech stock, the standard deviation of returns from the kitchen of Noble Rot are dangerously volatile.
A Game Terrine studded with pistachios was delightful, but a Slip Sole cooked in hot smoked butter fell flat. Peeling the minute flakes from the spine was incredibly satisfying, but when ingested was nothing compared to the sole at J Sheekey. The terrine came with a perfect hunk of sourdough that the supremely inarticulate Paul Hollywood could only have described as "a good bake".
Similarly, the mains varied hugely. Mallard with celeriac and picked pear was excellent. I love the layered effect you get from the strata of skin, fat, and breast meat. Goose-pimpled skin that slips off like a suede glove, magma-like duck grease below, and finally rare, blood-stained meat.
Conversely, gnocchi with trompettes and chestnuts was a Tet Offensive-level disaster. FOUR potato pillows were hidden underneath a forest of kale. FOUR pieces. It looked like a Vietcong boobytrap designed to lure in celiacs, and then BANG! Gluten-filled gnocchi to wipe them out. Chef Jekyll had then dumped a tub of crème fraîche on top.
Where's the gnocchi? Can you see it?
For the best experience, take a seat at the wine bar. Noble Rot has an eclectic offering of wines by the glass, and some stunning snacks. I've never read anything describing wine that wasn't deeply boring. But I'm going to try to do my bit to liven up wine journalism:
Adega Moncao, Vinho Verde; Portugal 2015
- Sparking water spilled on the leather of a new Lexus.
Schafer-Frohlich, Riesling Trocken ‘Vulkangestein’; Nahe, Germany 2013
- Hazelnut and lime zest. I love a cold, minimal german wine - like a tastefully-decorated Stasi interrogation suite.
Denavolo, ‘Dinavolo’ Bianco; Emilia Romagna, Italy 2014
- An "Orange Wine", which follows the process of white wine production but allows the brew more time with the grape skins. Intriguing. Cheese and quince in a glass.
Terres Falmet, Mourvedre; Languedoc, France 2013
- An impossibly heavy blend from the South of France. It feels like three kilos in your hand. A dark potion of pitted fruits and overripe raspberries.
Dauphine-Rondillon, Loupiac ‘Cuvee d’Or’; Bordeaux, France 2007
- A final glug of desert wine, similar to a Vin Santo. Underripe blueberries.
The culinary highlight of the evening was undoubted the lean, paprika-edged Lomo ham. Enjoy a plate at the bar with your orange wine, and trick your palate into believing it's enjoying a cheese, ham, and quince deli board.