19 May 2007

Noble Rot

Noble Rot, as I'm sure you are all very well aware, is a benevolent type of mould that if left on grapes can enhance the sweetness of wine and make good dessert wines, but what you may not know is that it is also the best wine bar for miles around.

Driving past it every day on the way home from work, I noticed a man at the window one time when I was pulled up outside waiting for the lights to change. He looked rather like Paul Auster which, naturally, piqued my interest. Also, once he was holding a pen which added to this ridiculous fascination with the place. (In person he looks more like Paul Auster might in a few years time) So anyway, one day as I sat at the lights he looked at me and waved which made me grin and wave back. This is sufficient proof to me that Paul Auster is living and writing in my town. So, I keep looking at this place each day and wondering what it is. I google it and it seems as though it's a wine bar that has live music. Only when I drive past it after dark one evening and I can see inside do I realise it's a must for the Chianti Club. So last night I took them there. They were slightly nervous, I think because my description made me sound like I was stalking a strange man on one of Bedford's nastier streets because he looked like someone who lives thousands of miles away but the place looks nice after dark. I should write for Lonely Planet, don't you think?

So we turn up and IT IS MAGICAL!! Paul, who we should now address as Charlie, welcomes us in with 'Hello girls, do we know you?' The place is on two levels with a quaint little set of steps up to the higher level. The bar itself is all antique dark wood making it feel like so many French bars I've been in. The wine bottles are ranged against the wall on a rack to rival anything I've seen before. The lights are all cut glass chandeliers, quite French Baroque. The walls are sparse but with some large pieces of art. The whole place is amazing shabby-chic.

Charlie comes to the table with an impressive wine list and asks us all where we work and tells us how wonderfully interesting we are. We are all immediately enamoured with this eccentric and endearing gentleman who may or may not be three sheets to the wind!

The choice of wine is happily deferred to myself and we start with a £16 bottle of South African Pintotage. It is excellent. The conversation and company, outstanding. We discuss everything. Charlie promises to come and talk to us about how it all started with a Hillman Imp. That never materialised but he was charming and quirky and everything a wine bar owner should be. We felt transported out of Bedford and that's worth every penny of wine! I found myself choosing a £25 bottle of Rioja Reserve that made us all 'oooh'. Really good.

We were one member down last night but it was the first evening for a new recruit. So the club's membership swells to 7.

The best moment of the evening was when Alimal arrived after FNM and Liz went to the door to show her where we were sitting, 'Oh, this is Charlie. Charlie could we have the wine list again please?' You have to have lived in Bedford for several years to know how funny and atypical such a scenario is!

On the way out we were all embraced and thanked so much for our custom and kind words - again, when does that ever happen? So I just said that next time he was sat at his window and waved to someone in a car he would know it was me. He was so touched. It really was just an exceptionally homely, friendly evening that must be repeated before long - next time with the A and Phillipe.


NY3 said...

Well that story sounds like it came straight out of one of Auster's metafictional tales!

"It was a wave of his hand that started it. His pen and his smile nodding in my direction. And an idea that he was someone he was not."

LoL. Have you tried speaking to him in French? Man, this is all too creepy. It sounds..... like a good plot for a novel. You must go back! With Me!

And also, I think you should ask Charlie's surname. It could be an anagram of 'Travels in the Scriptorium' although that would mean his surname would be 'Titterson-Scrumpvi', which for Bedford is unlikely. But then so is a trendy wine bar that all started with a Hillman Imp.

kumquat said...

you ARE hilariious!!!

Sadly 'Travels in the Scriptorium' only has one C which would be used in Charlie and therefore couldn't quite be Charlie Titterson-Scrumpvi as that has two C's. However, that could all be a deliberate narrative twist.

BUT what a fabulous notion and what an incredible quote! Well found. You are going to die for this place Phillie.

I know there's going to be live music there tonight but I'm not sure two nights in a row is a good idea...you can't make it up for tonight i suppose ;)

Mole said...

Isn't it fab? I am ashamed to admit that my mother suggested we go (having never been there but she though, and I quote, "It looks nice and I am sure you will like it") and JJ and I had a SOOOOPER evening. She drank fine wine. I drank fine Czech lager and all was well. We also got treated to Charlie's tales of buying furniture for the place before he even knew where it would be. A very quirky evening. From the back room there is also a fine view of the prison..........

kumquat said...

yeah, a really special place. may well be there again this coming weekend!

Anonymous said...

ooh oooh you MUST! mole and i love it there and it is very fab (i am a bit squiffy and running out of words) and PLUS i am 40 this weekend and in need of excuses to go out. blurry blurry yes please.


kumquat said...

Was planning on going Friday evening but it might be Saturday now. Is either night better for you guys?

Will keep you in the loop.

Laura said...

guys is this Bedfor UK? I have been looking for the phone number of this place but it isnt listed. Do you have it per chance?

kumquat said...

hi laura,

yes it is bedford, uk. are you local to me? how did you find me?

the bar is on tavistock street, next to a little shoe shop and opposite londis or whatever that late opening mini market is.

welcome to kumquat's blog. i've been without my computer for a while but am now back and shall start posting again.

LCbee said...

I had seen the place from outside many times and have always been quite intrigued but have never ventured there until Thursday night just gone.
I was out with a few friends in the mayhem of loud chav-tastic bars in Bedford where they have installed vulgarities such as Punch Bag Machines, Games consoles and have people in the toilets trying to sell you aftershave thinking that it gives them a touch of class when what they haven’t realised is that truly classy places don’t charge you for a guy handing you a towel to dry your hands or for their array of perfumes.
Just when I had just about had enough and about to head home well before I was due and disappointed with my night out I got a call from a good friend who was saying that she’s in Noble Rot and that I should come because I would love it. The thing that really sold it to me was that I could hear her to have a conversation and also people in the back ground laughing and sounding like they were having a truly good time instead of the normal scenario of someone screaming down the phone at you and all you can hear is people shouting and load music in the background.
She was right, I absolutely loved it, you are greeted by Charlie and his friends at the bar with Charlie asking you “what you would like to drink then sir” in a true British old rock’n’roll accent, Although I did make the mistake of asking Charlie what mixers he has for J├Ągermeister – don’t do that have spirits straight here, I thought this mishap was going to get me kicked out. Had an absolutely lovely night and as we left everyone inside said bye to us with Charlie following it with “good bye children, take care of yourselves I love you all.” There is a special romance about this place, a true first-class drinking hole with a real atmosphere and no smoke machines or disco lights.
If you ever venture to noble rot you will be sure to find me there.
I like the blog by the way.


kumquat said...

Thank you! Lovely to have your comments. I was there again at the weekend drinking red sancerre downstairs. It is bliss and I wish I could afford it more often. I am there as often as my pocket will allow. I suppose I could go and drink less than a whole bottle of expensive red but that's part of the fun!

Nicola Mackintosh said...

I met Charlie of Noble Rot recently.... somewhere very far from Bedford! What a man, cant wait to visit the bar and see him again!

Love from Niki, India xxx