Like Hollywood stars prepped to perfection, the sweets emerging from Melbourne’s sultry Noir restaurant now have their own venue: Noir Bar. Margaret Barca satiates her sweet tooth.
The discreetly dark Noir restaurant exudes its own subtle style on Richmond’s ever-more-hip Swan Street.
It’s known for its seasonal ingredients, unusual combinations and exquisite presentation. And it’s always worth checking the dessert menu to decide if you should, perhaps, leave room. The answer is inevitably ‘yes’. One of the reasons is Noir’s pastry chef Jérôme Soubeyrand, who has worked at London’s Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and Hélène Darroze’s Michelin-starred restaurant at the Connaught.
Now owners Peter Roddy (the restaurant’s head chef) and Ebony Vagg have taken their desserts even closer to heaven, turning their upstairs wine bar Swan Street Social into Noir Bar, with a focus on cocktails and desserts.
A hefty door and a modest sign are all that indicate the entrance to this sweet spot, creating a clubby feel. Signature charcoal walls give a subtle noir effect, and a chandelier of massed antler horns adds a… who knows what? Maybe a hint of Scandinavia? Whatever, we love it.
The wine list is short (but very good) and there are boutique beers, but cocktails and dessert wines are the go here. Ask the staff to make something special for you. For us, an Espresso Martini seemed the perfect foil for the sweets to come and the Raspberry Caprioska is a divine twist on a classic.
While the bar menu has some savoury offerings (the truffled pecorino polenta chips are irresistible – order your own and don’t even think about sharing them), it’s all about the afters.
For stellar good looks it is hard to go past the Vacherin, spiky and pastel pink – like a fairy hedgehog (pictured). The baby-iest meringues sit on a rose pink cream and hidden beneath is a flavour-dense raspberry sorbet. Delish.
And, as our waiter suggests, excellent with a blush-pink dessert wine, a Greystone Gewürztraminer Botrytis from New Zealand’s Wairarapa Valley.
The lemon tart comes with a side order of drama – it arrives flaming to caramelise the top, with a quenelle (chef speak for a shapely scoop) of Campari and orange sorbet and another of ruby grapefruit bavarois.
It’s a delicate trio, with three types of citrus (that makes it a health food, doesn’t it?). For chocolate devotees, the Chocolate Marquise is rich and bitter, with a passionfruit macaron, and a Middle Eastern accent of pistachio and pomegranate. Other possibilities include a rhubarb soufflé with liquorice ice-cream; and cute petits fours.
If you’re after a sweet end to your evening, Noir Bar may be just the place.
The details: Noir Bar, Melbourne
The verdict: Move your party to Noir Bar from Noir – or from any restaurant – for dessert and drinks. Or, what the heck? Forget dinner and just have cocktails and cake.
The score: 8/10; very good.
We rated: A smart bar with a low-key ambience, friendly staff and heavenly desserts.
We hated: Choosing! We’d love a platter with a selection. And the music could have been a touch more moody and… noir.
Where: Upstairs, 175 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne.
Notes: The bar opens Tue–Sun, 5pm –1am. There’s a happy hour from 5–6pm.
All AT reviews are conducted anonymously and our writers pay their own way – so we experience exactly what you would.