Noir Food & Wine
Pasadena, CA 91105
LA Weekly's Description
At first glance, Claud Beltran's Noir, in a narrow space right next to the Ice House, is an ordinary midlife-crisis wine bar, dimly lit, speckled with bottles and decorated with posters from Willi's Wine Bar, the archetypal second-career wine bar near the old Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. The music leans towards Brubeck and Miles; the clientele toward the country-club set. There are cheeses, perfectly diverting wine flights, a nice roster of things by the glass. But when you look at the wine list, put together by owner Mike Harwell, you see the document of a madman: 600 bottles, including nearly 150 examples of California pinot noir, many of them priced significantly lower than what you could hope to find them for in a store or at auction. The menu features the usual chops, hanger steak and boutique burger, but also a shockingly good Creole gumbo, grilled venison in a mole colorado and a perfect summer dish of seared scallops with sweet corn. Noir is the last place you would expect to find excellent chile verde, but Beltran's version, made with boar shoulder and profoundly smoky roasted chiles, is the best I've had all year. And then there was the peach: slightly chilled, cut into neat sixths, served with a discreet spot of cream, but just a peach. A brave, perfect dessert.
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