Norn: a northern star is born

OK, my record at the bookies suggests that my predictions are seldom to be trusted.

But here’s one on which I’d be willing to wager this month’s booze budget – a not inconsiderable sum of dosh.
The accolades will pile up for Norn – a recently-opened gem of a place in Edinburgh.
It’s already creating waves: one of the senior guys from the brilliant Noma in Copenhagen has already popped in to eat the food.
Norn celebrates foraging, local produce and Scottish culinary heritage in a way that’s contemporary, imaginative and utterly persuasive.

It’s probably the most exciting meal that I’ve eaten this year. Or, indeed, for many years.
It must surely be destined for Michelin glory.

The food

Choose four courses or seven from a menu that changes frequently.
There’s imagination and huge amounts of technical skill in the dishes that are created by a brigade led by young chef-patron Scott Smith, a protégé of Michelin-starred Geoffrey Smeddle, of the Peat Inn.
The plates they serve share an understated playfulness, with pitch-perfect contrasts of textures and flavours.
Seeds, nuts and grains feature frequently – adding texture and interest.

Thus a course of tiny cubes of zingy mackerel matched with radish, lemon and cicely in a light, vibrant sauce sang of sea and earth.
Sea trout – semi-cured and then cooked for the briefest of time – came with little bursts of raspberry acidity, the warming sweetness of beetroot and the iodine tang of the sea vegetable orache.
Tomato came with the soft Scottish cheese crowdie dotted with pearls of caviar and the restrained pepperiness of kohlrabi and bean tops.

The refreshing woodland notes of pine in various forms balanced brilliantly with a sweet, luxurious pea puree paired with little shards of mutton ham, a melting little mound of slow-cooked lamb flank and precisely-cooked sweetbreads.
Poached chicken with mushroom, lettuce and celery was anther winner, using humble ingredients treated with respect but imagination.

A rhubarb dessert – combined with the creeping herb woodruff, popcorn and a loose cream that was like the elegant ghost of vanilla custard – was an incredible mix of sweet, sharp, salty and earthy favours.
The following pudding of bramble, sea buckthorn, meadowsweet and burnt sourdough crust clubs was bolder and equally as good.

Service and decor

The team is young, motivated, informed and welcoming.
The restaurant is a small but airy space, with bare wooden tables and understated decor.
A soundtrack dominated by David Bowie and T-Rex added to the gaff’s chilled, adorable nature.


Need to know

Four courses £40/ Matching drinks £35.
Seven courses £65/ Matching drinks £60.
Norn is open for lunch on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
It opens for dinner from Tuesday-Saturday.
The name is a form of extinct Norse once spoken in Orkney and the Shetlands.

50-54 Henderson Stretet, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6DE. 0131 629 2525.

Tags from the story
, , ,