Noel’s, perched on the corner of the canal by The Mailbox, is almost impossible to locate due to an abundance of scaffolding hugging the building it resides at the base of. Once inside, from the deep booth seating, that very canal view is much more clear, the bright June sunlight reflecting off the water and through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Service team buzz through the long dining room, smart in white shirts and bow ties, bringing mostly Mediterranean food to the tables. It’s keenly priced — overly so — though more on that later.
There’s hummus and a negroni whilst we wait for food, both competent enough. The negroni made with the sin of Martini Rosso, the hummus the texture of wallpaper paste, dotted with some average olives and served with pitta breads straight out of a packet. Then the starters. Tiger prawns in a sticky oil with good bread, the shellfish a little over cooked but with good flavour. A plate of Iberico bellota ham is impeccably sourced (5 Cinca Jota is the highest grade) though had to be sent back. It’s hand cut to flabby thick cut bacon thickness, not the gossamer ribbons of pig that should be go translucent between two warm fingers. It’s a waste of good meat though the replacement bruschetta is no better. The tomatoes are mixed with bitter dried basil and next to no garlic. Dried basil in June is unacceptable. They can have some from my garden if things really are that bad.
The £35 lobster and prawn pasta main contains fresh herbs, thankfully, and although the lobster is a little pappy in texture, it’s quite good. Decent bisque, really well cooked pasta. But £35. The other main of chicken souvlaki has meat from the excellent Aubrey Allen that is so dry; overcooked and under seasoned. More of that pitta, some tzatziki, and a half-arsed attempt at a Greek Salad. It’s dull. Chips with Parmesan are okay, and we finish on a Tiramisu allegedly made by their ‘crazy Italian pastry chef’. I’m assuming they are off tonight. It’s more silent carbs. There is no coffee flavour, no booze, no anything.
Now there is no bill because I’m invited here. At the time of invite I’m keen to tell them I don’t floss up free reviews and that I really will be honest, not this fake honest that Instagrammers are keen to remind you they are. Despite my attempts to put them off, they’re seemingly still keen to push me through their doors. And for this I’m sorry, especially to the excellent Sandro, but it needs to be said. At present Noel’s is on a one way street to mediocreville, cutting every corner possible to get there. There is good stuff there, somewhere, trapped in a menu too big to contain quality at a price point which demands better. They need a helping hand, and quickly.
If it wasn’t clear enough, this meal was comp’d.