Norse has been on my ever growing list of places to visit for sometime, unfortunately I rarely make it to Harrogate and it's a shame because there are some great places to visit in this old Yorkshire Spa Town. As with many tourist hub places there are a lot of chains, something which the local residents have been commenting on recently, however if you do your research you'll find some great independents. To take some of the effort out of that research I present to you Norse.
Norse is very on-trend with their concept, I along with many of the masses are fully embracing Nordic and Scandinavian fashion. This embrace extends past food to my house and my clothing. No I'm not just shopping at Ikea because I've only recently bought a house and therefore too skint to buy from anywhere else (although this is partly the case), I like the combination of simple designs with vintage or 'retro' and this also fits in well with our own style and tastes. Anyway, this isn't a blog about home design it's about food.
So, what is new Nordic cuisine? Many will say that it stemmed from Noma, it brought something different to Denmark and started to change the world's view on what Nordic cuisine is. Previously when thinking of Nordic cuisine minds would wander to fish, meatballs and hotdogs. However, new Nordic cuisine was brewing throughout the Nordic countries a few years before Noma opened, I can't play it down Noma did do a lot to bring it to the forefront of our minds but I must emphasise that they weren't and aren't the only ones doing this. In essence New Nordic Cuisine uses local, natural and seasonal produce combining new ingredients in unusual ways. If you want to read about it a little bit more this website explains it better than I can - New Nordic Food Manifesto.
|The wine selection is on point.|
Norse started life as and addition to the cafe Baltzeren's, when they closed their doors Norse opened there's. With a growing fan base and some good press from the Guardian they outgrew their space; with the help of a kickstarter they have now found their own home. A home that comes complete with mod cons such as an actual real life cooker! Fancy.
Myself and fellow bloggers were invited to dine at Norse on their launch night (exciting), with a group seven fellows with very similar interests (not just food) it was like dining out with my mates... my virtual social media mates who I occasionally bump into in 'real life'. Dishes were shared between us (the way D and I choose to dine) half each with some delicious tipples too.
So after all the above babbling, what did we have?
The menu is split into snacks, smaller dishes, larger dishes and sweets.
Celeriac 'chips' and whipped smoked curd.
My favourite of the two snacks, the smoked curd wasn't overly strong and the celeriac chips had an interesting consistency (not hard like chips) and a sweetness to them.
Smoked cod roe cracker.
The lesser of the two snacks, a little messy to eat, I would suggest eating them whole rather than trying to bite in to them as I did and end up with the roe tipping off the cracker in to my hand and the inside squirting out. Dignified. I (along with others) found it overwhelmingly smokey, wasn't to my taste.
Pork cheek, mustard glazed artichoke and pumpkin seed puree.
|Even the flower petals can't make this dish pretty...|
Not a particularly attractive dish to look at (or photograph) but you shouldn't judge this one by it's looks as it was pretty darn tasty The pork cheek was done well with a nice chew, the artichoke despite looking slightly turd like (I will never make it as a professional food writer I know) was a welcome surprise. All three elements paired well.
Hassleback potatoes with Keen's cheddar and broccoli.
Not a particularly hard dish to make yourself at home, although points are given for presentation as my own hasslebacks have never looked so good. This dish reminded me of childhood when my mum would make me a baked potato, mash it up with butter a bit and then grate over some cheese before pushing it back in to the oven so create the most comforting meal a teen could ask for.
Lamb Shoulder, beetroot, fennel, oat and cultured cream.
Another good looking dish, the oats combined with the lamb divided the group with some showing more appreciation for it that others. I was definitely a fan as I felt it gave the lamb an added texture and the flavours of the two blended well.
Charred mackerel, chicory, pickled rhubarb and roe scraps.
I mentioned this on my Instagram at the time, I will only eat mackerel in places that I trust simply because unless it's done exceptionally well I hate it. I didn't hate this dish, instead I was rather fond. The roe scraps were a new feature to me, sort of like an underwater, seafaring pork scratching, minus some of the grease.
Brill, asparagus, parsley root and smoked mussel sauce.
Not usually a fan of mussels I enjoyed this dish, perhaps my taste buds are finally starting to dampen down to seafood. The brill (usually turbot) tasted fresh but there was a tiny bone in mine which I had to discretely disperse with. The asparagus laid to the side of the dish like an extra limb, it would have been nice to have seen this tied in to the dish a little more.
Duck breast and leg with fermented plum, hazelnut and salsify.
The crooks of the dish are there. There are some good flavours, some great colours on the plate and the leg wrapped up in a little parcel is novel. The meat was of good quality but I felt that the breast lacked a little something and compared to the meat on the other dishes it didn't quite square up for me.
Chocolate ganache, candied buckwheat, blackcurrant and buttermilk sorbet.
I am not chocolate ganache's biggest fan, it's just a little too rich for me. It's not something I would expect to be served in a fine dining restaurant either... not to be too critical but I would expect something a little more adventurous, as noted once already this is something I could make myself at home... hence why I wouldn't expect to be served it in such a restaurant as Norse. The additional elements were great and I was particularly fond of the buttermilk sorbet. If you're going to serve ganache make a little more different from the countless others I've tried.
Skyr cheesecake, gin-compressed strawberry, tonka meringue and strawberry sorbet.
I'm very much a fan of skyr, blame my obsession with Iceland if you like, therefore this dish was always going to be a winner. I can't fault this dish at all. A deconstructed cheesecake (try not to roll your eyes) with a sort of Eton mess character all of the flavours worked really well together as well as on their own (I sound like I'm writing my CV now).
I have to admit the above review is very critical and the reason for this is my recent escapades to Copenhagen where I dined on Nordic cuisine similar to what Norse are trying to create in a Michelin starred restaurant (Relae) and also in Noma's informal little sibling (108). Therefore my standards have been set high, with this in mind, in England this is the best Nordic inspired food I have tasted.. there's just a little work to be done to get up to the Dane's bar.
If you're a little unsure of whether you will like what Norse has to offer (and your wallet is unsure too) keep your eyes peeled for their upcoming lunch menu which will offer a smaller and larger dish for £15 and £18 if you want to add a sweet.