Since Mum has been living back in the UK, she’s had a rather impressive social life with friends who have been amazing! But something she rarely gets to do is go out for a fancy dinner. Getting dressed up and going out to a nice restaurant was one of my Dad’s favourite things to do, and something which has been notably absent in Mum’s life since he has been gone. So in December I though I’d treat Mum for her birthday to go out for dinner in one of the nearby towns in North Yorkshire.
The question was, where would we go? She had always been amazed by the tasting menus Tim and I had been fortunate to experience, so I was over the moon when I discovered a restaurant in Harrogate which offered just that. Norse restaurant, led by Head Chef Simon Jewitt, is located within Baltzersens, a Nordic cafe in the centre of town on Oxford Street which transforms into a fine dining restaurant in the evening. As such, it has a relaxed vibe with small wooden tables and cosy lighting – very hygge indeed!
We had booked the eight course tasting menu, the first time my Mum had experienced a proper tasting menu, so she was particularly excited! Being served in December, the menu was Norse’s nod to Scandinavian Christmas. And as it was Mum’s birthday, they kindly brought her a glass of fizz, and I had a G&T – the gin menu was excellent and I chose the Sacred gin, distilled in Highgate and infused with Cardamom.
We were also brought a small glass of schnapps each and a few amuse bouche dishes, including a gorgeous guinea fowl nugget. Now I must point out, it was very dimly lit in the restaurant so these photos aren’t the best. Do check out their Instagram page if you want to see the dishes in their best light (they’re rather impressive!)
First course was Celeriac | Buttermilk | Chicken Skin
The dish also included elderberry capers – these are the green buds of the elderberry tree picked before they turn into elderberries, foraged from around Yorkshire. I loved the crunch of the chicken skin, the textures worked perfectly.
Second course was Yolk | Barley | Pumpkin | Yeast
I love any dish with egg in it, so this was a dream, it was a perfect veggie dish, and I liked the seasonal inclusion of the pumpkin.
Third course was Scallop | Apple | Mushroom | Bergamot
Such beautifully cooked scallops and some unusual textures. One of my favourite dishes!
Fourth course was Julmust Salmon | Horseradish | Sorrel
Julmust is a Scandinavian soft drink that outsells coke during the Christmas period, which is used as part of the salmon cure. I’m not a massive salmon fan usually but I thoroughly enjoyed this, all of the textures and flavours complemented each other wonderfully.
Fifth course was Pork | Cabbage | Potatoes
Norse serves pork as one of the meat dishes as it’s the most popular meat served across Scandinavia for Christmas, be it in the form of hams in Denmark or pork ribs in Norway. And this dish was just superb!
Sixth Course was Lamb | Parsley Root | Seaweed
This was actually one of the best lamb dishes I’ve ever eaten, without a doubt. I don’t know if it was the quality of the lamb or the way it was cooked, but it just melted in my mouth. My mum doesn’t eat lamb (long story!) so I was treated to a second serving, heaven! I would never thought of serving seaweed with lamb, but it really worked.
Seventh course was Riskrem
This creamed rice dish with cherries is linked with Scandinavian pagan tradition that has also become part of Christmas – whoever finds the hidden almond in the dish wins a prize and between the two of us, my Mum was the worthy winner. She was given a cute little bottle of Christmas Pudding liqueur.
Eighth and final course was Clementine | Chocolate | Pine
This was Norse’s take on a Flødboller, a classic Danish confection served with pine sorbet. It was a perfect light dish to end the meal, with a lovely richness from the chocolate and a sweetness from the sorbet.
We were also given a plate of little confectionery treats to end the meal – sea buckthorn pastel, carrot and cardamon meringue and Tonka fudge.
There were only a few minor niggles about our dining experience at Norse – there was no sparkling water available and the waiting staff were unable to tell us much about the whiskies on the menu. And when we did decide on one, it turned out it wasn’t available. But these are very tiny issues amongst an incredible evening and one of my most memorable dining experiences.
I was really excited to see a Jura wine on the menu – you might know I look after the PR for Comté Cheese in the UK, so it’s always brilliant to see wine from this region of France making its way onto UK restaurant menus. I enjoyed every sip of the glass I ordered.
Mum said it was the best birthday she had ever had and I’ll never forget that, so thank you to the team at Norse for such a lovely night! As far as I’m concerned, this place deserves a Michelin Star as far as the food is concerned, it’s equally as good as some of the Michelin Star restaurants we’ve been to before.
You can find out more about Norse on their website. They accommodate lots of different dietary requirements with suitable notice, including pescetarian, coeliac, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan.