It was my Mum’s birthday last weekend so we popped across to Harrogate to go out for dinner. Now, I’ve written about Norse not once but twice before, and there are only so many ways that you can say somewhere is super delicious and lovely and that everyone should go. But this visit was worthy of a slight further note because it was our first since the Norse team moved into their new location. Where previously they were situated in Balthezen’s café, only emerging at night after the last coffee and cinnamon bun had been served, now they are down in the Montpelier quarter and you can visit for lunch! Hurrah!
The new restaurant is in a cellar underneath a hotel but still manages to be a bright, airy space, in perfect keeping with the light, Scandi influenced food. It seemed a lot bigger than before (I’m not sure how the number of covers compares) and yet was still packed out on Saturday night, with people several deep at the bar. In fact, if there was one small criticism to level it is that they could have done with another staff member out front – the ones on hand were rushed off their feet and, occasionally, plates took slightly longer to clear than they should have done. (NB: We fed this back to them and they have been in touch to thank us and to say that they are looking into it.)
The food, though, was fabulous. They no longer do a set tasting menu but offer a list of thirteen savoury plates of various sizes, recommending three apiece. We ordered the entire menu between four, with a view to sharing everything. Thirteen plates plus two snacks and three desserts and yet, such was the lightness of touch and balanced parade of ingredients that none of us left feeling over-full.
General consensus round the table that the top dishes were, surprisingly, two vegetarian ones. The Hasselback potatoes with cheddar and pickled leeks were always going to appeal to a family of cheese monsters.
The grilled hen of the woods were a revelation though – who on Earth knew that mushrooms could taste so luscious and smoky and meaty?
I must also give a special mention to the hake, beautifully cooked and bathed in a fabulous, run-your-finger-round-the-bowl shellfish sauce. The only problem with sharing was that I only got a bite or two – this was one that I was tempted to hide under the table and keep to myself.
Puddings: marginally less successful, as it turns out that D fundamentally objects to Jerusalem artichoke ice cream (I didn’t really mind it myself). I do think that the elderflower parfait was terribly, terribly pretty though.
It goes without saying that, if you’re in the Harrogate area, this is a top destination. And it was gratifying to see the place doing so well. Long may it stay so bustling and busy, even if it does mean that dirty plates linger a little longer than they should do – fabulous local places like this are to be treasured.