I was in LA on a business trip but thankfully my co-workers are as obsessed with food as I am – is that possible? We had three dinner reservations and went back and forth all day on where to go and ended up choosing Norah. A new-ish West Hollywood buzzy spot local friends recommended. After a stellar dinner at Republique the prior night, we wanted something very California and different from what we can get in London.
We first sat at the bar for drinks and even though I started with batida (Brazilian drink), it was a bit too sweet and we all ended up having the Garden greens, an absolutely delicious cocktail with gin, Gentian liqueur, fresh cucumber juice, lemongrass, apple cider vinegar and cilantro
Norah is a larger space but doesn’t feel too big as it’s broken out in various spaces. We were there on a Wednesday night and the place had great energy and people watching was fun.
What we ate:
Cornbread: the most delicious and buttery cast iron cornbread served with a soft and perfectly flavoured rosemary honey butter. Good balance of rosemary and just enough sweetness form the butter. Sadly it wasn’t bigger and we devoured it very quickly.
Little Thai sausages: this was all Thai flavours (lemongrass, etc) packed perfectly into a few little sausages and served with kaffir lime chili jam, herb salad and toasted rice powder. This dish really reminded me of one of the best Thai meals of my life when we were at Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen and one of the dishes was a tiny bite that transported you to the smells and flavours of the food markets in Thailand. Yum!
Eggplant & cauliflower: cherry tomatoes, zaatar, pickled peppers, pistachio: this dish was ok but the previous night we had been to Republique and had the most incredible cauliflower dish and this one just paled in comparison. I would skip.
Heirloom tomatoes: whipped ricotta, cherry tomato relish, shaved parmesan: my dinner companion (from the UK) couldn’t get over how good the tomatoes were, sweet and amazing. Why can’t we have tomatoes like this in London, why are these sooooo good? And this simple dish was purely spectacular, the tomatoes were the best, the ricotta was creamy and the sharpness of the parmesan on top added some salt and texture. So tasty!
Uni butter poached shrimp: smoked tomato, scallions, cilantro, toast: this was a lovely shrimp dish but the taste of uni was not very distinct and we missed it. The sauce was addictively buttery and we mopped the plate with the toast.
Maltagliati: hand torn pasta, smoked ham, black pepper, sage: the three of us are suckers for sage, and pasta so we had to order it. The dish was simple and the pasta not over-sauced but it was beautiful in how every element shone alone but married perfectly with everything else.
Braised pork socca: chickpea crepe, curried yoghurt, radish, chili: we LOVED this dish. It was a generous crepe topped with spicy pork and yoghurt. We devoured every last bite. I love how this dish had a distinct middle-eastern flavour versus some dishes which had a Thai inspiration and some more Californian.
Local squid and pork belly: cauliflower purée, shishito peppers, plum glaze, krau-chi: this was our least favourite dish. The pork was way too sweet, almost caramelized dessert-like and there was just too much going on at the same time.
Since we weren’t too happy with the pork, we decided to add the smoked chicken sausage: these sausages were large and completely different from the tiny Thai ones and were served with succotash, tobacco onions (aka spiced onion rings) and gravy.
The desserts were the disappointment – the chocolate cake with salted caramel, candied pecans and whipped cream sounded amazing but was in fact average.
We also had high hopes for the sweet corn coconut ice cream as growing up in Brazil, I ate a lot of corn ice cream and miss it terribly. Sadly, this one didn’t take me back to my childhood memories. However the coconut caramel and almond brittle it was served with were quite good.
In sum: the meal was great overall and I would definitely go back. The staff were extremely happy and friendly and the place has a great vibe.