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HomeYouTom Parker Bowles & Charlotte Kristensen: YOU magazine's brilliant restaurant critic and wine...

Tom Parker Bowles & Charlotte Kristensen: YOU magazine’s brilliant restaurant critic and wine expert

EATING OUT

This newly opened restaurant is full of promise. But will it live up to Tom’s great expectations?

Noble Rot, or Botrytis cinerea, is a benevolent fungus that attacks grapes, causing them to shrivel, intensifying their sweetness while adding complexity and depth to the resulting wines.

It is also the name of two exceptional restaurants, the original in Holborn (my favourite) and the second in Soho (pretty damn fine too). Now there’s a third, this time in Shepherd Market, Mayfair. And on a sultry Friday afternoon, the doors are flung open and a soft breeze wafts through the room.

I’m with my friend, the chef and food writer Simon Hopkinson, who immediately dives deep into the wine list.

The smoked eel and potato salad (pictured), says Tom, comes with 'a caviar-spiked puddle' of opulence The smoked eel and potato salad (pictured), says Tom, comes with 'a caviar-spiked puddle' of opulence

The smoked eel and potato salad (pictured), says Tom, comes with ‘a caviar-spiked puddle’ of opulence

Noble Rot is known for the quality, depth and originality of its cellar, as well as the passion and knowledge of its front of house. And Steph, who looks after us, is no exception.

Soon, we’re drinking a magnificent Trimbach Riesling and eating oyster-mushroom fritters. They’re a little greasy and rather forgettable. Hoppy, too, is less than convinced. ‘What is the point of an oyster mushroom?’ he asks.

The question is rhetorical. Red prawns, on the other hand, are splendid, searingly fresh, the meat grilled mere moments past transparent. The head juice is lasciviously rich.

Braised octopus with Vesuvio tomato is a dish of quiet elegance, imbued with intense southern European sun. Simple, yet perfectly put together.

Warm smoked eel and potato salad is a touch more baroque, sitting in a caviar-spiked puddle of opulent sauce. The salting is the hefty side of robust.

No such issues with the Anjou pigeon with peas and morel mushrooms, the Chambertin sauce sharp with red wine, the whole thing knowingly seasoned. The flesh is still pink, the skin burnished.

A classic, properly done.

Turbot, too, shows real skill with the steamer, falling apart in luscious alabaster flakes. A foamy sauce is light and lithe, plump cockles adding their tang of British sea air. Once again, the kitchen knows its stuff.

Noble Rot is known for the quality, depth and originality of its cellar, as well as the passion and knowledge of its front of house Noble Rot is known for the quality, depth and originality of its cellar, as well as the passion and knowledge of its front of house

Noble Rot is known for the quality, depth and originality of its cellar, as well as the passion and knowledge of its front of house

So why is it we leave, a little, well, underwhelmed? The room is noisy for a start. God, I’m getting old.

But the problem with setting the standard so high with your first two places is that anything that follows has to truly dazzle. Don’t get me wrong, Noble Rot Mayfair is a good restaurant.

A foamy sauce is light and lithe, cockles adding a tang of sea air 

And a young one too. But compared to its two older siblings, it still has a little to learn.

About £60 per head. Noble Rot, 5 Trebeck Street, London W1; noblerot.co.uk

DRINKS: Charlotte’s barbecue reds

As we head into peak barbie season, here’s a selection of sumptuous reds that hit the spot with grilled fare. I go for lighter reds in summer, especially when serving at lunch to avoid that 5pm slump.

What’s my approach to chilling reds?

Fruity reds with silky tannins and fresh acidity like Pinot Noir are great served at lower temperatures. In the evening, enjoy something more robust like a Malbec or Rhône red.

FRENCH PINOT NOIR 2022 (13%), £23 for 2.25 litres, thewinesociety.com.

The secret's out! Quality Pinot at an unbeatable price – light and vibrant, with notes of wild strawberry The secret's out! Quality Pinot at an unbeatable price – light and vibrant, with notes of wild strawberry

The secret’s out! Quality Pinot at an unbeatable price – light and vibrant, with notes of wild strawberry

The secret’s out! Quality Pinot at an unbeatable price – light and vibrant, with notes of wild strawberry

IRRESISTIBLE PAÍS 2022 (13%), £8, Co-op (in store from 24 July).

Quaffable red made from Chile’s flagship grape País. Ripe and smooth with juicy berries and a hint of thyme.

TASTE THE DIFFERENCE LANGHE NEBBIOLO 2020 (13.5%), £12, Sainsbury’s.

Baby Barolo at a fraction of the price. This sophisticated Italian wine will work a dream with BBQ ribs

IRRESISTIBLE PAÍS 2022 (13%), £8, Co-op (in store from 24 July) IRRESISTIBLE PAÍS 2022 (13%), £8, Co-op (in store from 24 July) TASTE THE DIFFERENCE LANGHE NEBBIOLO 2020 (13.5%), £12, Sainsbury's TASTE THE DIFFERENCE LANGHE NEBBIOLO 2020 (13.5%), £12, Sainsbury's

As we head into peak barbie season, here’s a selection of sumptuous reds that hit the spot with grilled fare

SPECIALLY SELECTED CAIRANNE 2021 (14.5%), £8.99, Aldi SPECIALLY SELECTED CAIRANNE 2021 (14.5%), £8.99, Aldi COLLECTION TRADICIÓN MENDOZA MALBEC 2022 (14.5%), £12, M&S COLLECTION TRADICIÓN MENDOZA MALBEC 2022 (14.5%), £12, M&S

Fruity reds with silky tannins and fresh acidity like Pinot Noir are great served at lower temperatures. In the evening, enjoy something more robust like a Malbec or Rhône red

SPECIALLY SELECTED CAIRANNE 2021 (14.5%), £8.99, Aldi.

From a hilltop commune in the Rhône, this combines bold blackberry notes lifted by a violet perfume

COLLECTION TRADICIÓN MENDOZA MALBEC 2022 (14.5%), £12, M&S.

From esteemed Argentinian producer Susana Balbo, this classic dark-fruited Malbec will pair with a steak or hamburger.

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