In 2017, Ollie Dabbous surprised the industry when he put his eponymous Whitfield Street site up for sale just 5 years after opening and earning a reputation as an “iconic” modern restaurant. Business at least appeared to be booming – though they say the golden rule with any party is knowing when to leave, and to do so on a high note. (He is currently setting up a new venture in partnership with Hedonism wines, which is hotly anticipated this year – watch this space). With the venue available, and Pied à Terre HQ round the corner on Charlotte Street, they grabbed it and allowed their former sommelier Mathieu Germond the opportunity to set up his own new restaurant. And so Noizé was born, named after the Loire valley village Mathieu was brought up in.
Rather than just re-filling a Dabbous-shaped hole, the restaurant has been tastefully renovated leaving little, if any, trace of its former industrial noir look. Sea-blue walls, painted exposed air ducts set against blood orange banquettes, seal-grey chairs, wood and hanging globes create a relaxed, comfortable and modern bistro feel. The soft furnishings absorb noise (or noize?) and plants excrete fresh oxygen. One lunchtime soon after it opened, it was neither full nor empty – like the optimum glass of wine. Perhaps this makes it difficult to gauge how busy it could get, but on this visit I was struck by its quiet dignity.
Some people find cheese at the beginning of a meal a controversial proposition, but do yourself a favour and have the cheddar gougeres – these cheese balls are magnificent
The modern and dignified approach to the interior design permeates through to the food under the direction of chef Ed Dutton (whose CV includes stints at Foliage as well as of course Pied à Terre and Pied Nus). Dishes are pared-back, well-executed and founded in a classic French approach. The menu itself is short but sweet with only 3 or 4 starters, mains and desserts keeping the focus on quality rather than quantity. There is also a snack option which can be a cost-effective way to reduce the overall bill and prevent stuffing yourself before the main course. Whilst some starters are laconically described as “scallop” or “foie gras” with an £18 price tag, snacks such as the chicken wings with bourbon punch above their weight, and are a mere fiver. For me though, it’s all about their cheddar gougeres. Now, some people find cheese at the beginning of a meal a controversial proposition, but I say poppycock! Do yourself a favour and have these cheese balls – they are magnificent. These were matched well with a bone-dry Alsatian white – Mathieu assured me this would work, and he was right. His background as a sommelier is clearly paying off and I’m seeing an increasing (and pleasing) trend where sommeliers are getting equal footing in the management, if not ownership, of a restaurant. It goes without saying that Noizé has an impressive wine list, skewed slightly towards the Loire region.
Onto the food, the main course of suckling pig with carrot and tarragon was delicately made and I was impressed by how much flavour the chef got out of something that looked so simple. However, I couldn’t taste any of the advertised tarragon at all, which was a shame, and I’d prefer a creamier Pomme puree.
This is good modern bistronomy
Finally, a delightful apple tarte fine closed proceedings – this had the right balance of sweetness, acidity and, er, tartness with some mighty fine pastry work. The cheese selection looked very tempting indeed but I already had my fill of those wonderful gougeres.
This is good modern bistronomy without the dreaded pretension that currently blights the Paris dining scene. I paid the (very reasonable) bill saying to Mathieu I would spread the word, and so I am.
39 Whitfield Street
by J A Smith