Today we’re heading for Charlotte Street – one of my very favourite London streets. It’s lined with restaurants and bars in so many shapes and forms, I always say that if I ever left London and came back for a visit, Charlotte Street is the place I’d like to stay. It’s just off Oxford Street, too, so very convenient for the joys of Soho.
Recently opened Norma is the brainchild of chef Ben Tish and the menu is inspired by the food and culture of Sicily, focusing on the Moorish influences. It’s a stylish restaurant set over two floors with a Crudo bar at the entrance serving seasonal raw seafood.
What’s on the menu
The menu offers an exotic-sounding range of dishes. How I love trying something completely different. We started off with this plate of delectable anchovies – beech smoked and served with salmoriglio which is a light dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and fresh oregano. A heavenly plate of zesty smokiness.
Served with the lightest of crispy toast.
And then for some chickpea panelles. No, I had no idea what they were but am partial to chickpeas and loved these little crunchy fritters served with a tasty salsa verde for dipping.
Of course there’s an interesting selection of pasta dishes, including pasta alla Norma which gives the restaurant its name, with a sauce made of tomato, aubergine, cheese and basil. We weren’t feeling particularly vegetable-focused so instead went for fishy and meaty options both using a range of typical Sicilian ingredients.
Fresh tagliolini came with a fragrant sauce of sardines, fennel, raisins and pine nuts. A combination that does sound somewhat strange but truly tasted wonderful. And the pasta! Scrumptious.
My dish of fresh strozzapreti with a pork, anchovy and orange ragu and fresh mint – one of the best pasta dishes of my pasta-eating life. Seriously! From the delicate little hand-rolled pasta to the rich ragu with citrus overtones.
Today’s price point
Lunch for two came to £30. Really great value.
Wine starts from £27 a bottle.
Norma is at 8 Charlotte Street, London W1