So I think this has to be one of my most delicious reviews to date on TLE, all I can say is if you are in Edinburgh visiting, or live in the city, Norn is a 100% must do dining experience.
Background and Concept
Chef Scott Smith, a protege of Geoffrey Smeddle, Michelin-starred owner of The Peat Inn, has taken over the site of former restaurant the Plumed Horse in Leith. Cosy in size at 36 covers the restaurant is relaxed and unstuffy, Scottish ash wood tables and neutral colourings give the restaurant a clean and calming environment. There is no frantic dashing around of staff with chefs instead of waiters bringing each dish out to the table.
Norn combines incredibly creative dishes with natural wine and adds an element of theatre and food education to produce an extremely polished and quite frankly amazing evening out.
Norn plays tribute to Scotland’s rich food heritage. The menu is entirely dictated by seasonality meaning food is fresh and used only when available. The team work with small local trusted suppliers from butchers, foragers, farmers, fish and seafood specialists as well as including food that is harvested by the restaurant and foraged fresh off the land.
Menu’s change frequently (It has only been open 5 weeks and the Menu was onto menu 14 when we ate there).
Norn is not about turning tables quickly and getting customers in and out, the menu takes the form of either a four course tasting menu (£40) or a seven course tasting menu (£65). Matching wines can also be included and we highly recommend taking this option.
The kitchen pass is a focal point in the restaurant pulling together everyone who dines. Like a theatre stage you watch as each dish is lovingly crafted and brought out to your table by the chef who made it.
It is also important to note that specific dietary requirements are not a barrier to enjoying the Norn experience, I am vegetarian and the dinner was crafted to my needs. If you do have a dietary requirement it is key to tell Norn in advance as food preparation takes time.
Marseilles-born natural wine expert and sommelier Sandro Colavolpe who has come from Brawn in London and previously worked at Terroirs creates the wine menu and matching tasting menu wines.
Wines come from small artisan winemakers, where growers tend to favour more traditional methods, producing sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines, which are clean and fresh. And if it is any test to the quality of the wines, I had the matching seven glasses of wine to the tasting menu and woke up with no hangover…
So where do I start with the food, it really was incredible – the whole process is perfect, each dish is brought out to your table, ingredients are carefully explained along with cooking techniques and the passion and enthusiasm from the chefs towards their food shines thought as they explain the dish to you.
Prior to each dish being served as you are sitting with your dining partner talking non stop about what you have just eaten the wine for the next course is brought out. Wines have been chosen to specifically match the dish so I do urge you to complete the experience by having matching wines to food, but the option choose a bottle is also available.
So each dish I ate was incredible, but if I had to pick out my favourites then the Baked Shetland Black Potato has to be one. On top of a bed of Crowdie Cheese the fluffy baked potato with butter is crowned with Crab (in my case seasoned beetroot), black rapeseeds and caramelised onion finish the dish… orgasmic! And Course Five the Chicken (in my case carrot) Mushroom, Cavolo Nero, Lovage and the most delicious ketchup base. The handmade Orcadian Beremeal Sourdough was used to clean the plate of the ketchup.
The menu incorporates two desserts, so the sweet tooths among us are spoilt and Course Six – Woodruff, Ground Ivy, Popcorn, Rhubarb is a real complex combination in the mouth. Salted soured rhubarb topped with woodruff ice-cream is finished with crumbled caramel popcorn. The flavours sound like they should never work together but they do. It’s a Marmite moment when you first taste it, you will either love it or hate it.
Course One – Mackerel, Cicely, radish, Lemon
Course Two – Potato, Crab, Onion, Buttermilk
Course Three – Asparagus, Peas, Sorrel
Course Four – Cod, Fennel, Turnip, Elderflower
Course Five – Chicken, Mushroom, Cavolo Nero, Lovage
Course Six – Woodruff, Ground Ivy, Popcorn, Rhubarb
The Finances and Details
We ate the 7 course tasting menu with matching wines priced at £65 for food and £60 for matching wine per person, I cannot recommend Norn highly enough and I can see another Michelin Star restaurantjoining the ranks in Edinburgh soon!
If you want to experience Norn but with a slimmed down menu then the £20 lunch is a great place to start, so book now!
Lunch: Thursday – Saturday
Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday
Address: 50-54 Henderson St, Edinburgh EH6 6DE
Phone: 0131 629 2525