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Toast of the town - Idris Elba's Porte Noire wine bar

By Christina Raptis

Its an early Friday evening and King’s Cross is buzzing with people. A lot has changed over the years and not having visited in a while everything looks different and new. The area is now lined with tall skyscrapers housing offices for the likes of Facebook and Google. The newest addition to the area just across the canal bridge is the cobbled streets of Coal Drops Yard where you’ll find a mix of independent shops, cafes, bars and restaurants and its here I find myself looking for the exclusive and somehow reclusive Porte Noire wine bar.

Renowned for his leading roles in BBC series Luther, Nelson Mandela in Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom and The Wire to name but a few, Idris Elba has now turned his hand to hospitality with the opening of his very own wine bar. The actor, producer and DJ has partnered with long-time friend and founder of Connaught Wine Cellars, David Farber to open Porte Noire, which is eponymously named after their established champagne brand.

Located at the foot of the stunning Gasholders London building, opposite Regent’s Canal Towpath at Coal Drops Yard, sits Porte Noire with offers an extensive selection of exceptional international wines, accompanied by artisanal cheese and charcuterie, and a sharing plates menu - we were intrigued.

As we entered through the large glass doors, bottles of wine and luxury spirits lined the entrance as well as a glass cabinet showcasing the finest cured meats and a selection of fresh cheese. Porte Noire is home to around 800 wine bins, and one of the largest fine wine rooms in London. The wines range from some of the best and rarest bottles to a more accessible selection of wines on tap to suit all tastes.

We were warmly greeted by the manager who showed us to our table in the bustling dining area and offered us a perfectly chilled glass of the famous Porte Noire Champagne.

The food menu at Porte Noire offers a selection of French brasserie-style plates to share. Dishes include Truffle fries and pecorino; Cantanrian Anchovies, Tartiflette and Edamame hummus to name but a few. Our excellent waiter recommended a few of his favourites so we started off with an array of charcuterie and the cheese selection to go along with our champagne. For our main course we shared the steak tartare which was a very generous portion and the slow-cooked beef cheeks a la Bourguigonne, lardons and Paris mash which was super decadent and melted in the mouth.

If you’d like to start or end the evening with something a little stronger, a selection of cocktails are also available. The inventive cocktails are made by Porte Noire’s creative bartender, known by a select few as the ‘Professor’, who mixed us up a refreshing take on a Manhattan and the signature Porte Noire Flower cocktail which features wild hibiscus flower syrup, Dima’s vodka, apricot liqueur, Champagne, garnished with a hibiscus flower - delicious!

We were fortunate to have the charming co-owner of Porte Noire, David Farber join us for a drink and regale us with anecdotes of his journey to creating this fabulous wine bar. He explained how he was keen to ensure that customers were able to purchase wines they enjoyed in the restaurant and thus created a fabulous fine wine room and store within the restaurant/bar.

The smart-casual vibe of the wine bar is the perfect setting to enjoy fine wine and complementary food offerings for a lunch meeting or gatherings after work with friends or colleagues. Having enjoyed our drinks and dinner in an effort to burn off the calories we decided to enjoy our very own 'long walk to Fulham'!

Porte Noire

Unit A Gasholder 10

1 Lewis Cubitt Square, N1C 4BY


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