Harrogate restaurant's 50-course meal at Leeds Indie Food fest

Owner Paul Rawlinson and the staff at Norse/Baltzersens in Harrogate.
Owner Paul Rawlinson and the staff at Norse/Baltzersens in Harrogate.
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It's only three days to the launch of this year's Leed Indie Food Festival and a daring Harrogate restaurant is preparing for one of the highlights of this feast of food which runs from May 13-30.

This Saturday, May 14, Norse restaurant, its founder Paul Rawlinson and head chef Murray Wilson, bolstered by a small group of suppliers from the Harrogate district, are offering a select group of diners a 50-course meal at Lambert’s Yard at 7pm.

It’s a challenge, certainly, but Norse founder Rawlinson doesn’t regard it as particularly ambitious.

Not when Murray Wilson, has conjured up a meal successfully before with twice as many courses.

Paul, who trained at Sandhurst alongside Prince William and served in Afghanistan before becoming a restaurateur, said: “Murray did a 100-course meal when he was working at Atelier in Canada. Fifty should be a walk in the park!

“But it is a lot so the courses will be coming out pretty fast and furious - one every three minutes for 2.5 hours.”

Since Paul first launched Norse as part of his Scandanavian-inspired café Baltzersens on Oxford Street in Harrogate in 2012, foodie fans in the town have gotten accustomed to tucking into the daring, the innovative and the mouth-watering.

But Norse’s participation in such a big event as Leeds Indie Food Festival is motivated by more than a love of food or a sense of ambition.

A case of bringing coals to Newcastle, perhaps, but Norse is keen to show Harrogate’s bigger, more urban neighbour that there’s more to the town than tradition when the festival opens on May 13 for a fortnight of more than 100 events in more than 50 locations.

Called 50x50: A Night at the Spa, Norse’s contribution will showcase the finest Yorkshire seasonal food with a Scandi twist and specially-selected accompanying drinks.

Even the name of the event has an extra twist. As well as referencing Harrogate’s spa town reputation, Paul is also a fan of rock band Queen, especially their classic album A Night at the Opera.

Paul said: “We regularly get compliments on the music we play at Norse so I think it’s one more ingredient that adds to any dining experience. I’ve even had a bit of artwork done in a not dissimilar style to the album cover.

“I wanted to do something big and celebratory. I came up with the idea and asked Murray for his thoughts.

“We’ve always admired those restaurants that have long-tasting menus with small courses with, perhaps, only one main ingredient that have a genuine clarity of flavour in each bite.

“Our menu in the restaurant is in many ways quite limiting because we offer the a la carte option, so all the dishes have to be balanced in terms of including proteins and carbs, as well as vegetables.

“The 50 courses won’t be limited that way and we can play around with the order.”

A key figure in Harrogate’s growing independent scene, Norse is boldly flying the flag for Harrogate in a city which has one of the most vibrant independent scenes in the whole country.

To that end, it’s brought on board local drink suppliers such as Whittaker’s Gin from Dacre Banks, Bad Co microbrewery from Dishforth and Champagne Concept from Harrogate for the event.

Paul said: “There are people doing great things in our district and I don’t think they sometimes get the recognition they deserve,

“Going to Leeds Indie Food Festival is about informing the enthusiastic Leeds food audience that, while they have lots of amazing places, there are also some exciting developments a little further afield.

“Harrogate is only 30 minutes on the train. We want more people to consider a day trip or night out to make the most of our growing indie scene.”