Norse Harrogate Interview with Norse Director Paul Rawlinson following new restaurant launch
Following a successful Kickstarter Campaign, Norse Harrogate has opened its new restaurant doors on Swan Road, with a tantalising casual dining menu influenced by Nordic cuisine. Renowned for their evening tasting menu and after shining reviews from the UK’s top critics, Norse quietly outgrew the after-hours pop-up style restaurant they previously shared with Scandi-inspired café, Baltzersen’s.
After a week in their new home on Swan Road, we caught up with Paul Rawlinson, Director of Norse & Baltzersen’s, to discuss their launch and exciting plans ahead.
How’s the first official week in the new place been?
There’s more expectation this time around in comparison to when we opened first as part of Baltzersen’s. Some are visiting as new guests so we are learning what people are and aren’t enjoying about the new restaurant. Whilst part of Baltzersen’s the food and service was highly rated but the ‘room for improvement’ feedback was always around the lack of comfortable seating. Now, this is the complete opposite. Us, as well as our guests, are enjoying the new, comfortable space. People are also enjoying the format of the new small plates menu and trying various wines with different dishes.
For those that have never been/heard about Norse, what’s the best way to describe it?
Nordic influenced cuisine with elements of this in the style of the food, how it’s presented, methods of preparation and with some of the ingredients familiar to Nordic countries. Interesting food that is approachable for most people, served in relaxed and friendly surroundings. Attention to presentation, taste and the texture of the different elements on each of our dishes.
Where did the inspiration for a Scandi inspired restaurant/cafe come from?
Baltzersen is my Grandma’s maiden name, our heritage is Norwegian. In terms of the baking at Baltzersen’s these were recipes we cooked at home and I remember from visiting my Grandma. My Dad also lived and worked in Norway and was a baker and chef by background before he went into the army. I grew up talking about the idea of a Scandi Café and Baltzersen’s came about when I left the army. Following this, with our previous head chef, we carried the idea of the Scandi theme through into the evening. Baltzersen’s is hard to pronounce and impossible to spell but it’s worth it as there’s a story behind it.
What can diners old and new expect from visiting Norse at the new venue on Swan Road?
In terms of our previous diners as mentioned the environment is now much improved but one of the other big changes is that we are no longer offering the tasting menu. We designed the small plates menu to broaden the appeal of the restaurant in its new space, maintaining the standard of food in nice, relaxed surroundings. We can also cater for people who just want a smaller meal with a glass of wine. We’ve also been able to extend the wines and spirits on offer such as our selection of gins. Also, we’re now offering lunch which is completely new for Norse. For new visitors, we hope it will be an entirely different dining experience that lots of people can enjoy.
As the menu at Norse changes regularly is there any particular dishes/ingredients your looking forward to that diners might see on the menu?
We have just got woodruff into the kitchen which is a vivid green herb with a slight vanilla flavour to it. We work with the seasonal produce and whatever becomes available from our local forager. Our Head Chef Simon would also like some signature dishes on our menu such as our ‘Slow Cooked Duck Egg’ and will tweak it based on seasonal produce. Signature dishes are also great for diners as there might be two or three dishes they know and love.
Tell us a bit about the wine preservation system you’ve introduced and how can it benefit the dining experience.
When you open a bottle, you put a cap on the top, as you dispense wine it replaces it with argon gas, which preserves the wine and stops it oxidising. The benefit of this is that we can offer a bigger wine list (20 whites and 20 reds) and more by the glass. We like to introduce people to new things, wines that people wouldn’t necessary try at home or get from the supermarket. We can also dispense small tasters before deciding on a glass or bottle. The result is our guests drinking more interesting and better quality wine. This also suits our small plates menu well as people can choose two or three different wines that complement their chosen dishes.
When you get the odd day off is there a favourite place/restaurant you go?
Due to having two very young children aged 3 years and 5 months lunch options can be slightly constrained by the size of a place and the attention span of a toddler! I did recently get some vouchers for The Black Swan at Oldsted for my birthday so I’m very much looking forward to getting there for lunch. Skosh in York is great and I also want to visit Joro in Sheffield and Le Cochon Aveugle in York.
Do you have any events/changes that diners can look forward to?
The chefs and our previous guests enjoyed the tasting menu so we plan to bring this back as a monthly tasting menu evening. We have also had some really successful nights collaborating with different chefs at the old restaurant, so this is also something we’re planning. We’re also part of Leeds Indie Food this year, we are moving our entire set up to the Corn Exchange for two days! Our dishes will be paired with Yorkshire’s Whittaker’s Gin or a trio of champagnes from the Champagne Concept. Signe Johanssen, writer of books like ‘How to Hygge’ will also be doing talks with a coffee and one of Baltzersens’ cinnamon buns included. It will be a great mixture of Scandi and Harrogate independents.
Are there any new plans for Baltzersen’s?
We’re currently offering it out for private hire or pop-up dining events which I think can work really well in Norse’s old space.
Read our Norse Harrogate Review.
Norse, 28A Swan Road, Harrogate, HG1 2SA – 01423 313400
You can also follow Paul Rawlinson @thecafeguy to listen to a podcast about Norse Harrogate.
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