You might recall in December I took my Mum for a superb tasting menu at Norse restaurant in Harrogate. If not, you can refresh your memory right here. I was very impressed with the intricacy of the dishes and combinations of flavours, and I was so pleased that a restaurant of this quality (and excellent social media channels, always a bonus for me!) had opened up in my Mum’s ‘neck of the woods’ in North Yorkshire. The restaurant offered the tasting menu during the evening, in the restaurant where Scandi café ‘Baltzersen’s’ was housed during the daytime. Quite simply, it wasn’t ‘theirs’ (although owned by the same owner, Paul Rawlinson). And this was reflected in the ambience, design and décor of the restaurant. It felt like a café, which indeed it was. But with fine dining and higher prices in the evening, it was a little jarring.
I’d heard that they were hoping to relocate to their own premises, and so when I saw their Kickstarter campaign, I knew I had to back them. The campaign had an overwhelming response with the £20,000 target funded in the first 100 hours. It ended with £28,300 from 184 backers. They clearly have very dedicated customers, and why wouldn’t they?
A couple of weeks ago I was up in Harrogate for work, attending BBC Good Food festival for Comté Cheese, and so I thought this could be the perfect opportunity to check out Norse in its new home, and take advantage of the lunch menu discount they had kindly offered as a thank you for backing the Kickstarter. So I took my Mum and our friend Mel (you may have seen some of her recipes on here) for lunch to see what the new restaurant would be all about.
Located on Swan Road, a quaint street a few minutes walk from the centre of town, Norse is now ‘underground’, although fortunately there’s still plenty of light flooding in to the restaurant from outside. From the moment we walked in the door, I felt it was so much more ‘on brand’ than Baltzersen’s. Plenty of natural woods and modern outdoorsy Scandi décor, with comfortable seats – we were all taken by the moss style art work on the wall.
The lunch menu wasn’t huge, but it doesn’t need to be. For starter, I had the slow cooked duck egg, wild garlic, parsnip and cured pork. Mum went for the hasselback potatoes, Collier’s cheddar, lovage and broccoli. And Mel chose the charred mackerel, pickled rhubarb, chicory and scallop roe scraps.
I found it hard to decide on this course, they all looked great. And I can confirm, they tasted just as good as they looked – the dishes are truly beautifully presented at Norse, and the ingredients and flavours were just as creative as the former tasting menu. My duck egg was cooked perfectly with a wonderfully runny yolk and there was a good range of textures with the crunch of the pork.
For main course, Mel and I both ordered the duck breast and leg with fermented plum and salsify. Mum had the cod, asparagus, parsley root and smoked mussel sauce.
Once again, stunning dishes and the duck was cooked to perfection in two ways, with the leg meat wrapped in a veggie parcel. Delicious! Mum was incredibly pleased with her choice and made us both smell the mussel sauce in the little jug it was served in, it smelled divine!
There were just two options for dessert, so Mel and I opted for the chocolate and tangerine root ganache, pine nut crumb, blackcurrant and buttermilk sorbet, and Mum ordered the Skyr cheesecake, gin-compressed strawberry, tonka meringue and strawberry sorbet.
Very impressive puds once again. I could have eaten two of mine (but that would have been greedy!) The chefs at Norse are very clever at combining a number of ingredients and textures that work brilliantly together – I’m a big fan of dishes with soft elements and a crunch (such as the buttermilk sorbet and the pine nut crumb!)
One of the key things to mention is the price of the lunch menu – two courses for £15.00 or three for £18.00. It’s an absolute bargain given the quality of the dishes, the service, and the whole experience. I really hope they’re not under-pricing the lunch menu, as I would have thought they could charge more, but hey, they’re the experts. The courses aren’t huge but this is a lunch menu – if you’re looking for a feast, it’s not going to be the right place for you, but it’s perfectly acceptable for typical lunch portions.
Norse seems to be going from strength to strength. As I mentioned earlier, they’re great on social media so do give them a follow (I just saw they posted a customer feedback card who said they would give up sex for their crab dish!!) and their head chef Simon Jewitt has been getting some great exposure – he was on stage with Tom Kerridge at the BBC Good Food Show last week, for instance.
If you happen to be in Harrogate (or if you’re even remotely nearby!), do pay them a visit, you won’t regret it. You’ll probably be thinking about planning your next Yorkshire trip just to return! You can find out more on their website here.