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Review: Norse, Harrogate

Sea trout

Sea trout

Well, guess what? Norse is a modern Scandinavian restaurant. They give it away with the name, really. Although looking back on the meal there’d be nothing wrong with calling it a modern British restaurant, because frankly all the fantastic northern European ingredients they focused on are all found right here on our shores. Some lovely hen of the woods, kohlrabi, sea buckthorn, mackerel, celeriac. I can’t think of anything specifically Nordic, except of course that it was places like Noma in Copenhagen that kickstarted this whole focus on the great flavours we have on our doorstep.

The decor is very pleasingly Scandinavian, with smoothly sculpted scrubbed wood tables, muted neutral tones and simple, delicate crockery. Service was friendly and helpful, and they’ve got a nice selection of wines by the glass – we found a pecorino that paired really well with the savoury flavours. They’ve organised the menu as tasting plates – some small, some larger, and they suggest three per person which turned out about right.

Hen of the woods

Hen of the woods

My first dish was hasselback potatoes with Quickes cheddar. This was one of those “I don’t know what else I was expecting” dishes. It was a sliced and roasted potato with a melty chunk of cheese draped on top. I don’t know what else I was expecting! Though the bitter swipe of bright green lovage puree added a good third dimension to it.

Next was mackerel tartar, set on a base of jersey royals and smoked beetroot (though I couldn’t find much smoke myself). You just can’t go wrong with beetroot, mackerel and potato. And the third dish was a splendid little piece of sea trout, jazzed up with crispy and juicy bits of apple and green strawberry and given a strong seaside tang by an oyster emulsion. Served in a deep little bowl which made it oddly tricky to eat, but really delish.

Then we ordered coal-baked kohlrabi with a sweet mushroom puree. Sounds odd, but was jolly good. The kohlrabi was great, the surface really well charred to bring some life to the mild, juicy brassica flavour beneath. Best yet. Almost beaten by a really smashing chunk of hen-of-the-woods mushroom, kissed with the taste of the Josper (or whatever) grill it had been cooked on. This came with asparagus and neat little pillows of a soft goat cheese I’d never come across before: Yellison’s. Some generous slivers of truffle made a great finishing touch. And so to the final dish; a great piece of hake given a really beautiful crust in the pan, with char-grilled lettuce heart, roast celeriac, sea veggies and a veeeeeery creamy good fish bone broth to bring all the flavours together.

Smashing hake

Smashing hake

That was dish of the day. Puddings were good. A chocolate ganache (maybe a tad overset?) served with silky soft jerusalem artichoke ice cream. And a sea buckthorn tart, thin and crisp pastry, with an equally lovely cardamom ice cream on the side. The tart could definitely have been given a braver sweet/tart contrast given how puckeringly sharp sea buckthorn is. Still, nice finish.

You’ll probably pay £30 each for dinner before drinks. I think that’s really excellent value for the top-notch cooking and the thoughtful and inventive menu they’ve got going on at Norse. Was I in Harrogate again any time soon, I’d definitely come back.

Sea buckthorn tart

Sea buckthorn tart

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