Saturday, April 2, 2011


Amidst a movie theater, comedy club, dance studio, and comic book store, sits Noble, a two story bar restaurant. Like the block, Noble is filled with interesting possibilities, a lot of which don't actually work well together. 

Much of the menu presented a conundrum -- the winter vegetable soup sounded wonderful, but with pancetta-granola?  A roasted beet salad is always a crowd pleaser, but with black olives?  Even the cocktail menu, a happy place for me generally, offered mixes with bourbon, which would then be topped off with ... sparkling wine. 

Our server, who was pleasant and seemingly smart, when asked about "what was good here," directed us to the most frequently ordered options.  Well, okay, we'll sign up for the lemming plan.  As it turns out, the gnocchi parisienne, which can be ordered as a starter or main dish, was pretty amazing.
We are told that "parisienne" means the gnocchi is prepared almost as a pate au choux, so a lighter, flakier gnocchi.  After such a highbrow description, our server added, "they're sort of like Combos."  Again, with the odd mixes.  Their taste appeal was anything but highbrow; it was straightforward floury, cheesy, fried goodness.  MCRF wisely ordered the dish without the pancetta; nothing about the dish needed the bacon.  Rather, it might have benefited from something a little less heavy and salty.

MCRF opted for the most-ordered-dish as an entree, the grilled spanish octopus, which was reportedly "very good."  I went with the duck breast, as I am unable to turn down anything served with "sweet potato bread and persimmon."

So yeah, there's a lot going on here.  The sweet potato bread was good, but didn't quite work with the duck (it's that tiny loaf sitting on top).  The duck breast, executed well, worked with the braised cabbage but the other three elements seemed a bit out of place.

Intrigued by the cardamom coffee pot de creme (say that three times fast), we ended up with dessert.  The pot de creme was served with a brittle/rice krispy-ish topping that made it hard to eat, frankly, and the pumpkin ice cream, while tasty, seemingly belonged to another dessert.  MCRF's mexican chocolate pate was good and very dense, with a spiced sauce rubbed on the plate. 

A small amount of controversy surrounds Noble, which was founded on offering local and sustainable foods only, but has since departed pursuing that endeavor 100% (so yes, a little less "noble").  Also incongruent was the downstairs offering a bar menu, including what looked like a great burger, while the upstairs does not, although a table next to us did without our realizing it was an option.

From its hand drawn sign contrasted against its stark white and dark wood interior, its young male bar crowd against its more staid professional crowd, and all of the other strange combinations here, I am at a loss to understand Noble's identity and hesitant to recommend.

Noble is located at 2025 Sansom Street, Philadelphia,    

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

love it.