How good is Harrogate's Norse restaurant?
Review: Norse, Swan Road, Harrogate.
All of us like as much choice as possible on a menu, even if we eventually settle on our usual favourites.Which also makes it easier to ‘skim read’, should the mood take you.Not so at Norse. Since this Nordic-inspired restaurant first opened in Harrogate in April 2014, it has built up a well-deserved reputation for offering some of the most adventurous and creative dishes in the whole of the north.Reading the menu is a treat in itself, each glance reveals another inspiring combination of ingredients and flavours or an intriguing aperitif, careful pairing option, rare wine or gin or obscure craft beer.If the menu at Norse has never been in question , there’s always been the issue of the venue.Did reconfiguring itself as a restaurant at night from a café in the day really work for Balterzersens and its owner Paul Rawlinson or not?That question was answered by its far-sighted proprietor in a straightforward fashion earlier this yea r when he decided to relocate Norse from its original home in Baltzersens on Oxford Street near Harrogate Theatre and relocate it to a new home on Swan Road.Now sitting nice and snug near both Valley Gardens and the Mercer Art Gallery, Norse retains its relaxed atmosphere but now feels a more natural space than ever before .The location may be new but the Norse menu under head chef Simon Jewitt is still as joyously headspinning as ever. Which is in no way a criticism. Norse’s is the only menu I’ve ever read which surprised me page after page.Yes, it’s a case of choosing several small plates, as opposed to the traditonal three-stage ‘starter, mains, desserts’ approach.Yes, there is a tasting menu available - obviously.No, there’s no burgers.The real beauty of Norse is that you really can’t dismiss it as trendy.Nothing is fancy for fancy’s sake. No matter how unusual a particular dish sounds, the end result is delicious - easy on the eye and easy to eat. Before it moved to its new home, it had already been awarded two AA rosettes, been a runner-up in the Observer Food Monthly awards and been recognised by the Michelin Guide.The night I was there, Norse was packed with loyal regulars. But it sorely deserves to be embraced by all food lovers.