Last Updated on December 22, 2021
A Corner of the Loire in London – Noizé
What do you do when you have a special bottle of wine that you want to share with friends? My inclination is to try and cook, but with Christmas looming, the idea of making yet another meal at home just didn’t sit well. Instead, thanks to a few comments from friends, we came up with an alternative solution. A recommendation from one friend to try Noizé at the earliest possible opportunity. Then, a more recent invitation from a French wine specialist to a lunch there that I couldn’t make, where she mentioned in passing a reasonable corkage. It’s a rare thing in London. Mathieu Germond, the former co-owner and restaurant manager of Pied à Terre restaurant, is a wine specialist himself and Noizé restaurant reflects his own personal passion. There’s a stellar wine list with mark-up capped at £50. And, there’s an enthusiastic invitation to bring your own wine with a £20 corkage on all bottles. The perfect excuse to open that bottle of fine wine and let someone else worry about the food!
Sitting in my cupboard, originally earmarked for a big zero birthday celebration that didn’t happen thanks to lockdown, a bottle of Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart Salmon 2006. I’m nervous around fine wines and this particular bottle, a gift from Billecart-Salmon, was one I didn’t want to spoil – and did want to share. What better way to do that than by inviting friends to join me for dinner at this unique London restaurant.
Noizé opened in 2017 on the site that had been home to Dabbous. With a softer colour scheme, it’s now a wonderfully comfortable and welcoming space across two floors, it’s clearly adaptable too. I have been before, not ostensibly to eat but to do some wine tasting, I believe with Celliers des Dauphins. The downstairs space is perfect for private events with a large bar and the option of tables or a buffet-style layout.
Upstairs, you might just have drifted across the channel and found yourself in one of those charming French country restaurants where locals go for special occasions because they know the food will be exemplary. And, I suspect that’s exactly what Mathieu intends. Brought up in the Loire Valley, France, his grandparents ran a farm in the tiny village of Noizé and he grew up surrounded by great wines and excellent local, seasonal food. The menu is chalked up and brought to your table and the team explains as much or as little as you want to know about the dishes and the daily specials.
Head chef, George Farrugia, learnt his trade in the kitchens of Pierre Koffman and Eric Chavot before moving to Bob Bob Ricard and more recently Fenchurch Sky Garden. He’s been with Noizé for most of 2021 and his menu features a range of seasonal dishes that all sound tempting to me. It’s always a good sign when you start planning your next visit before any of the food has arrived.
We drank the Billecart-Salmon as an aperitif, then with doorsteps of crusty brown bread and, in part, with our starters – shared across the table. It’s the cuvée which, in 1999 was chosen as the ‘Champagne of the Millennium” at a blind tasting session involving 150 vintages. And, it’s the result of blending Grand Crus wines from the Côte des Blancs vineyards and the Montagne de Reims. Vinified partly in traditional oak casks it’s fine, elegant champagne that actually stopped us all talking, so we could just enjoy what we were tasting – a lovely apple and peach aroma with a long finish. Sharing the three starters meant we had the chance to taste the champagne with both fish and cheese dishes and in retrospect, I now regret not asking for more advice and perhaps ordering snacks in the form of cheddar gougères. The rather beautiful delicate leek and Keen’s cheddar tart with gem lettuce and mustard dressing was a great complement for the champagne with the lightest whipped cheddar cream in a fine, crisp pastry shell
Halibut ceviche, a special of the day, was thick cut with fine shards of white cabbage, deep-fried onion, bergamot gel and confit compressed cucumber with gel, a citrus marinade and piquillo peppers adding a bit of heat.
Our final starter, the confit salmon with granny smith and fennel salad and a horseradish cream saw the meltingly soft salmon contrasting beautifully with the piquant salad and squid ink tuiles.
By the time we reached the main courses, we’d moved on to the second wine I’d brought with me. Journey’s End, Destination, Chardonnay 2018, a rounded and robust South African Chardonnay which is matured in new French oak for 10 months for a full-bodied, butter and vanilla mouth. It was a bit of a spontaneous pick for me from my wine store. One of my companions doesn’t eat meat, the other doesn’t drink red wine – so a good white wine was the order of the day.
This buttery chardonnay made a great pairing for the perfectly cooked pork chop with endive tart, Hasselback potatoes and coppa. What made the dish so special was the quality of the ingredients and the care in cooking. Pork can easily be overcooked and a little tasteless – here, the meat was tender, sweet and light. We loved the tiny, perfectly cooked Hasselback potatoes too.
It wasn’t a bad pairing either with the Monkfish, fregola and squid ragout, a fragrant bowl of comfort food with little bits of crispy pig crackling adding textural interest.
Next time though – and I am sure there WILL be a next time – I’m going to leave the wines to the team at Noizé restaurant – that is unless someone chooses to give me another bottle of stunning champagne.
My companions picked the other desserts off – a quince and almond tart with yoghurt ice cream paired with Rivesaltes Ambré Domaine Cazes 2006 and apple sorbet with Calvados which came with a big slug of Roger Groult Calvados Pays d’Auge.
There’s also a selection of cheeses and paired wines by the glass. Comte cheese with a glass of Sercial Madeira would have suited me very well too – but that might just have been greedy.
It’s a unique formula – my only complaint is that the extensive wine list isn’t on the website, even in part, so people like me who are tired of the inordinate mark-ups you find in some London restaurants might hesitate. In fact, the wine list is a big part of what makes Noizé special – and that in itself is an excellent excuse to go back.
39 Whitfield Street,
London, W1T 2SF
020 7323 1310 | email@example.com