Noble Rot has undergone serious changes this year. Last February, the acclaimed wine bar and small-plates pioneer left its home on Southeast Ankeny Street in favor of rooftop digs on lower East Burnside. With high ceilings and a glossy sheen, the new window-wrapped space is a far cry from its former dim and intimate refuge. But that’s not all bad. In the move, Noble Rot gained a rooftop garden and twinkling views of the Portland skyline (marred only by the garishly uplit KPOJ billboard across the street). The move also put Leather Storrs, husband of co-owner Courtney Storrs and the restaurant’s original chef, back in the kitchen. (His ill-fated concept restaurant, Rocket, the space’s original tenant, folded last November.) Despite his hiatus/debacle, the food proves Leather hasn’t lost his touch. One night’s incarnation of the Rot Meat Plate combined house-cured ham, steak tartare and smoked duck breast with peach mayo, all tasty takes on charcuterie classics that paired nicely with a $12 flight of earthy Chilean reds. The onion tart, long a favorite of regulars, was sweet and nutty, with caramelized onions melting on the palate. And the richness of an endive and hazelnut salad dressed with blue cheese was balanced by the briny tang of pickled beets. A ham-and-cheddar panino was fairly boring even with the accompanying mango chutney, but still well-executed. The space (and clientele) may have become slicker, but the food maintains its understated excellence.
Order this: Onion tart, Rot meat plate and lots of wine.
Best deal: $10 to $12 generously poured flights.
I’ll pass: Ham and cheese doesn’t do this place justice.