London thinks they have it all when it comes to restaurants, but I feel that although they have a great many to choose from, we are truly lucky that Yorkshire has some truly brilliant and talented chefs doing something a bit different. Norse in Harrogate is one such place and I’m truly thankful that I was invited to review them. Having eaten that amazing 10 course supper in Oslo I wondered how Norse might measure up. Fortunately I wasn’t disappointed. They were also incredibly accommodating to Mr LTT’s dairy free requirements as you will see shortly.
The decor is typically Scandinavian: minimal, understated decor with wood and white paint. I love their Christmas decorations so much I may have copied the holly in bottles ideas you can see above. Can you see the Scandi knit jumpers on the left hanging up there too?!
The drinks menu is extensive and has some amazing cocktails including the “Scanhattan” with Akvavit or the winter inspired cocktail below with mulled wine syrup served with dried orange and rose petals.
We had the six course tasting menu which allowed us to try a great many things I would never normally pick. We started off with some bread before the menu started. I had butter, I expected margarine for Mr LTT but of course not, it was home-smoked oil and it was beautiful.
Accompanying the bread were these amazing toasted seeds. You can’t see but there was jam underneath (I think it was cloudberry). Can we make this a thing in homes across the nation in 2015? It was so delicious – the flavours of the homemade bread, the sweetness of the jam, the crunch of the seeds, I would’ve been happy just to eat that and only that.
Also before we started we were given a beetroot shot and an expresso shot. I had the beetroot one which was, as expected earthy but nonetheless delicious!
First course: Poached baby globe artichoke, pickled pear, Cotehill Blue cheese, chervil root puree and a chilled chervil broth. Mr LTT’s was minus the blue cheese which was a shame for him because it really added another layer to the dish with the woodiness of the artichoke and the mild background flavouring of the chervil. The dish was topped with black onion seeds which also added a bit of crunch and slight smokiness.
Second course: Pig’s head and smoked eel terrine, fermented Spring vegetables, sweet potato and liquorice root veloute, pickled leeks, carrot top oil and “Sailor Jerry” sabayon. Dairy free second course: Salad. The terrine was beautiful – it had a gentle sweetness and wasn’t fishy (or eely?) at all. There was crunch from the pickles and a light creaminess from the sabayon. It was a spectacular dish.
I wish I could say that Mr LTT was able to describe his dish well. Fortunately I tried it so am able to tell you how lovely it was. The presentation was, as you can see, gorgeous and one of the best salads we have EVER had. If all salads were like this, I’d eat them all the time. There was crunchy pickles, earthy beetroot, salty samphire and sweetness elsewhere that when combined seemed perfectly balanced.
Third course: Soused Cornish mackerel, fennel and apple salad, burnt apple puree, soured cream and bacon crumble. Dairy free version: no soured cream. I have to say, I was a little worried about this course. I’m sure I have mentioned on this blog before that I was, until a few years ago, a hater of fish. Over the last few years I have grown to liking white fish but still have an aversion to oily fish. Like mackerel. But whilst this dish did still have a fishy flavour, the tartness of the apple and fennel salad cut through it whilst the bacon added a little smokiness and bite. I might be a mackerel convert after this…
Fourth course: Pan fried plaice, Scottish mussels, salsify and samphire, burnt cream and hay baked celeriac. Dairy free: Seared breast of Yorkshire mallard, leg rillette, chantenay carrots, braised red cabbage, chestnut crumble and smoked duck sauce.
The plaice had a fantastic crispy outer despite not being skin on, yet it was not overcooked inside. The whole dish reminded me of winter fires – there was that smoky fire warmth from the hay baked celeriac. The mussels were tender too.
The duck was well rested, the skin cooked perfectly. There was a subtle spice from the jus that gave the dish body and warmth. The vegetables were all delicious and I loved the chestnut crumble which made me think of Christmas!
Fifth course: Seared breast of wild Scottish venison, venison and pine tartare, speckled lentils, mushroom ketchup, charred broccoli, turnip puree and venison sauce. Dairy free: Turnip swapped for beetroot puree.
Again the venison was rested perfectly and also sliced into manageable thickness pieces. The mushroom ketchup was slightly woody and really went well with the richness of the meat and lentils. The turnip I was not so sure on – my dad grew turnips my whole childhood. Every Sunday my parents tried to make me eat turnip. I hated it. I still dislike it now. But the tartare, wow! I’d never had it before but the rawness of it made the flavour so clear.
Sixth course: Baby Williams pear, poached in tonka bean and brown sugar, caramelised white chocolate sorbet, pear and nutmeg puree and rosemary crumble. Dairy free: White chocolate sorbet replaced with blackcurrant sorbet.
What a dessert! The sorbets were incredible – normally white chocolate stuff doesn’t ever taste of white chocolate but this had real impact. There was a gentle perfume from both the nutmeg in the puree and the crunchy rosemary crumble.The pear itself was sweet, soft and served warm. It was a nice contrast to the cold sorbet. It was such a great wintery dish!
Sorry, as you can see I took a nibble before I took the photo!
I feel like I have learnt so much about Scandi cooking from this night – it’s all about sweet, salt, acid and alkaline. It’s not big, exotic flavours but the natural harmony of land and sea.
The tasting menu we had costs £42 per person which really felt like incredible value. You can also try any of the dishes on the menu individually – they aren’t starters or mains, they are simply dishes to be eaten in any order. I will definitely be going back there and have raved about it to all my friends. It’s definitely a unique and dining experience. Find Norse at 22 Oxford Street, Harrogate. Or visit the Norse website for more information.
Disclaimer: Our night at Norse was complimentary and was for Transun’s guide to Scandinavian restaurants