I’ve always been partial to the minimalist sensibility of the Scandinavian region in northern Europe (yes, I still need to make a trip to countries like Denmark and Sweden at some point in my life, hopefully soon), and the moment I walked into A/D/O in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with my wife Jun, the large open design space at a former warehouse immediately appealed to me, and I just wanted to hang out with Jun sipping a glass of wine while lying down on the comfy soft in the center of the area. Well, our mission this time was check out the restaurant inside that gorgeous space so we proceeded to the dining space. I know modern Scandinavian / New Nordic cuisine hasn’t quite got the draw in New York City compared to the world outside the U.S., but I was still shocked that the restaurant was nearly empty. After all, this is a collaboration between Claus Meyer, one of the founders of Noma, and Fredrik Berselius from Aska that won almost every single best new restaurants of the year awards out there in recent years. Is it because of the somewhat in-the-middle-of-nowhere location (the restaurant is located on a quite street on the border between Williamsburg and Greenpoint) or is the place supposed to get a lot more crowded during daytime (we showed up on an early Sunday evening)? I couldn’t tell but in any event, I felt it was a shame that the restaurant wasn’t getting much love because the food at Norman was overall fantastic.
Carrying on the spirits of Noma and Aska, there were pleasant surprises from many dishes leaning toward modern Scandinavian even though Norman was supposed to be a more casual version compared to the either two. After warm wheat sourdough with cultured butter and root vegetable salt, we ordered two small plates and two larger items. Jun and I had thought the server would bring the small plates together first but he actually mixed and matched each small plate with a large dish, and it turned out to be a smart call. “I really wish this dish had less salt; otherwise, this could’ve been a perfect dish.” Jun kept musing while scooping up the red corn porridge with fermented green tomato and blue oyster mushroom, and I couldn’t agree more. The crunchy texture of the porridge was quite memorable, but indeed the seasoning of the dish made it hard for us to keep going after half a dozen scoops.
On the other hand, silver hake with yellow-eyed beans and blistered kale was more balanced in flavor, and the fish quite aptly cooked. The second set of dishes is where things got a lot more interesting. When we ordered, we debated between pork collar and New York strip. The server noted that pork collar may not be for everyone if you are looking for a tender piece of meat, but we were both feeling adventurous and ordered the pork collar anyways. What an awesome dish this turned out to be. Contrary to the server’s warning, the meat was very nicely prepared with an ideal texture for pork, and it worked wonders with charred cabbage with fresh cheese, hazelnuts and gooseberries that we ordered as a second small plate item. If there is such thing as the best pairing of a main dish and a side, I would highly consider this pair for the wondrous complexity of flavor and texture all over the place with different ingredients. For dessert, buttermilk curd with rhubarb honey and crunchy ymerdrys (a type of Danish rye bread topping) sprinkled on top of it was an awesome finish to the meal for its delightful flavor without overpowering sweetness.
As I noted above, getting a reservation won’t be an issue at Norman given how empty the dining space was during our visit (or perhaps things might be different during prime times on Friday or Saturday?). There is full bar with a concise selection of cocktails and beers (I would kick off a meal with a glass of aquavit). The bright and hip setting of A/D/O will only add to your pleasant experience at Norman, although perhaps the presence of some diners in the dining space would make you feel more like you’re eating at a restaurant and not at some deserted warehouse. I highly encourage curious New York City diners to venture out to Brooklyn to give Norman a try. The casual yet sophisticated take on modern Scandinavian / New Nordic cuisine will surprise you.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 9.0/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 29 Norman Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Telephone: (347) 966-2092