Celebrity backing has come for one of Harrogate’s most acclaimed restaurants which is changing its approach as a result of what it fears will be a tough year ahead for the town’s independent sector.
Norse on Swan Road was voted Harrogate’s Restaurant of the Year 2017 but, in news which is certain to send a chill through the local dining out scene, director Paul Rawlinson has admitted its very future is in the balance and is asking fans to “use us or lose us.”
Now Jay Rayner, the Observer's restaurant critic and BBC Radio 4 food and drink broadcaster has tweeted his support for the ground-breaking restaurant and is calling for true food lovers to book at table there.
"I loved @EatNorse in Harrogate when I reviewed it, and now they're being honest about the challenges they're facing. pls give em your support by eating there.
Despite being listed in the Michelin Guide, the Good Food Guide and Hardens guide, such is his worry for his own business, Mr Rawlinson is now revamping the menu which brought it nationwide acclaim.
He said: “2017 was really challenging at the restaurant. The numbers haven’t been adding up for us.
“It’s my job to convince guests to walk through our door but we’re struggling. There have been new openings and pressures within the market, but all restaurants have to deal with those. I’ve just not got the formula right.”
Mr Rawlinson has been heading up the Indie Harrogate campaign recently to promote independent businesses in the town against a recent influx of national chains.
Such are the commercial challenges in Harrogate town centre currently, he believes that Norse can’t be the only business finding it tough.
He said: ““I think a lot of indie business owners across multiple sectors will be taking a long look in the mirror and working out if they can continue. We’re committed to making Norse work. The business can be saved but we’d much rather people know the seriousness of the situation so they can make a decision about supporting us.”
In a bid to attract a wider clientele, the award-winning restaurant is set to depart from its Nordic menu and tasting plate approach and bring all its culinary talent and pedigree to a more conventional form of dining out.
Paul Rawlinson said:“Small plates haven’t been universally popular so the more familiar starter/main/dessert format with an option of the tasting menu, for those that want it, seems like an ideal mix.”
The restaurant is now describing its menu as simply “Modern food using Yorkshire produce.”
But Norse’s website still acknowledges the Nordic influence.
Head Chef Simon Jewitt said: “I’m completely comfortable with labelling the menu in this way because it gives prospective guests a better understanding of the kind of food they can expect at Norse - modern techniques paired with great ingredients served in a comfortable atmosphere.”