When we saw signs of a new restaurant opening less than 100 metres from our home, we were certainly intrigued. Leith has some fabulous foodie delights, but the prospect of Norn was too much to take. We booked on on the first possible night, and surrounded by friends and family of the chef patron, Scott Smith we felt very privileged indeed.
The restaurant, which is housed in the old premises of The Plumed House, has been totally revamped. Long gone are the green walls, the restaurant now transformed into a chic, modern space with a light, Scandinavian feel.
The choice was simple: four courses or seven.
In true OH! Taste fashion, we went with seven. A wonderfully fruity natural wine was chosen for us by the charming French sommelier, who assured us that natural wines were not only as good, if not better, than others but carried less of a threat of hangovers due to the minimal presence of sulphites. It certainly sounded like a winner to us.
The Norn Menu
The flavours throughout the menu were bold. Simple ingredients were elevated to another level by the chef’s technique and vision. Set to change frequently, based on produce available and herbs and plants foraged, the menus did not give much away.
Highlighting some of Scotland’s finest produce is key to Scott. Serving sustainable, fresh ingredients that speak for themselves is essential, and this can certainly be seen on the delicate plates that come off the pass.
“We are fiercely focused on sourcing all our produce from suppliers and growers who are sustainable, ethical and passionate about their ingredients. Our menu will change regularly as the produce used will be what our suppliers tell us is at its best and ready to use at that moment. This way, we ensure freshness, minimal wastage and constant creative challenges.”
Similarly to the Copenhagen-based restaurant Noma, dishes are brought out from the kitchen by the chefs themselves. This was a first for us and a hugely enjoyable experience – although I have no doubt the chefs were fed up with my constant barrage of questions by the end of our meal.
The meal began with a ceviche of scallop with wild leek flowers, wild leek and capers. The scallops sang out and the wild leek and capers merely complimented the already spectacular Scottish ingredient.
The next course was a revelation. Carrots served with a crab butter, fresh crab, cicely and sea buckthorn sauce. The perfect tender, sweet carrots married wonderfully with the crab – an utterly indulgent, and yet wholly nutritious, plate.
Following on was a delicate dish of veal tartare, served with caviar, celery tops & 68-day aged beef fat. It was certainly one of the night’s favourites. Not only did the dish look simply spectacular, but the seemingly simple flavours were balanced perfectly with one another. The caviar and beef fat added some indulgence and richness to the otherwise minimal dish.
Next up was the duck. Served with a Scottish kelp sauce, the dish was rich and yet not overwhelming in any way. The accompaniments of broccoli and beetroot added an earthiness to the plate. The duck itself was soft, tender and perfectly pink. Heavenly!
A pudding course of fermented barley in split buttermilk, fennel and the beautiful hedgerow plant, Cicely, was reminiscent of a traditional Norwegian dish, Risgrøt. The dish in Norn’s case was similar to that of a rice pudding but used fermented barley. The unusual combination of barley and buttermilk was served alongside a light dessert wine which complimented the dish beautifully.
The final plate was even more beautiful than the dishes that came before it. A yoghurt espuma was served alongside a lemon curd, mallow pieces and frozen meringue and was utterly delectable. Light and airy, with the sharpness of lemon curd and the sweetness of mallow, the dish was as technical and flavoursome as it was delicate.
The beauty of an ever-changing menu is that those lucky people who find a local restaurant that they love will never be bored. In fact, we have already enquired as to when the menu might change as we are dying to go back.
A fixed menu allows the restaurant to serve produce in its absolute prime, while challenging the team creatively. It is important that it continues to do this, and the restaurant will certainly have some competition from other Edinburgh fine dining eateries. We certainly wish Norn luck, and look forward to many more visits and culinary creations. The only thing left to say is…welcome, neighbours!
Find them: 50-54 Henderson Street, EH6 6DE