Review: Nobles Bar, Leith

THERE ALWAYS SEEMS to be a lively atmosphere when you visit Nobles in Leith.  The old Victorian building acts as a vessel for an eclectic crowd of both diners and the thirsty alike, with a reputation spread over Edinburgh and beyond.

The opening act for me was saffron and gin cured Scottish salmon for £5.95. It can be difficult to balance the flavours when curing, but this was spot on.  The notes of gin enhanced the subtle salmon flavours and cut through the creaminess of a delicious remoulade, with the help of the citrus dressing. 

Meanwhile, Sarah tucked into a starter of wild mushroom and goat cheese ravioli with walnuts and a sage beurre noisette (£5.95). The pasta was rolled thinly and stuffed with a decent amount of filling, although it consisted predominantly of the goat cheese, highlighting a distinct lack of mushroom flavour. The butter dressing brought a rich nuttiness to this decent first course.

I admire the regularly changing menu at Nobles and that there’s frequently a couple of daily specials on offer.  Today, my main consisted of pan-fried venison haunch and liver, carrot puree, apple and celery salad with a red wine and pink peppercorn jus (£13.95). Respect is accorded for putting liver on the menu, as it’s rarely seen these days outside of fine dining joints. However, venison liver is strong and obliterated most of the other ingredients on the plate. Sadly, it was slightly over cooked too.  But all was not lost, as the haunch was delicious and the earthy sweetness of the carrot puree created a great combo; I particularly enjoyed the apple and almost fruity spice from the sauce. I’m certainly glad I ordered a side of polenta chips (£3.50) because they were cooked to perfection and had a delicious hum of heat from the toasted spices on top.

Our waitress for the evening – very pleasant and efficient throughout – presented to Sarah pan roasted pork fillet with roasted baby potatoes, red onion, braised leek and a red grape and mustard cream at a reasonable £12.95. It can be hard to keep pork fillet moist, but the cooking of the meat here was excellent. The sauce was creamy with a hint of sweetness and a pleasant mustard taste that paired perfectly with the pork. The potatoes had a tinge of garlic and were one of the best parts of the dish.  The only issue was the leek, which perhaps would have been more pleasant to eat had it been diced and sautéed; serving it whole made it a bit stringy to chew and tough to cut.

You can’t fault the ambience at Nobles, though, whether you're dining or just popping in for a drink.  It’s spacious, yet cosy at the same time and has a commendable drinks menu too. For now, our evening was nearly at an end as our desserts arrived.
Mine came in the form of meringue kisses with lemon curd, chocolate mint crumb and passion fruit pulp, priced at just under a fiver. The individual elements of this pudding were all well executed and the flavours all worked, and I liked the lemon and mint combo in particular.  However, I felt it needed something like an ice cream to bring it together and alleviate the astringency from the chocolate soil.

Sarah ordered hazelnut and Frangelico chocolate terrine with mixed berry marshmallow and Chantilly cream (£4.95). She thoroughly enjoyed the robust raspberry flavour from the ‘mallow, which benefited from not being too sweet, and having a firm texture outside with a wonderfully fluffy interior. The terrine was rich and had a welcome bitterness from the chocolate, while the pistachios added crunch.  This pudding was a generous portion, but not so rich that you couldn’t polish it all off.

Good show from Nobles tonight. The standard of food is always consistent and the menu offers a variety of slightly more sophisticated options than your usual pub fayre, while the atmosphere creates a place you’ll definitely find yourself visiting again and again.

Nobles on Urbanspoon
44a Constitution Street,
Leith, EH6 6RS
0131 629 7215
Opening times:
Mon - Fri: 12:00 pm - 1:00 am
Sat - Sun: 10:00 am - 1:00 am