Referring to a venue opening as “long anticipated” has become a recent cliche but not so in this case. A premise of a subterranean Nordic inspired restaurant in the heart of Sydney is a statement that evokes intrigue.
Norsk Dor, (meaning north door), the new venture by the team from Uncle Ming’s quietly opened to its doors two days prior to our visit. Nordic, underground and mysterious are words that heighten the anticipation of a new venue.
That anticipation continues as you first locate the discreet almost speakeasy entrance along Pitt Street (opposite Mejico), step through the stainless steel door, spot the long narrow dizzying corridor, descend two flights of stairs and begin to question whether you’ve reached the underbelly of the city. You finally reach the end of the tunnel and turn right only to find the bottom of a staircase. There’s another door to open and you’re about to enter a Nordic wonderland.
Norsk Dor, Sydney
Inside the 100 person capacity venue, the feeling at Norsk Dor is one of elegance and class. From the moment you’re greeted by the restaurant manager you know you’re in for a special experience that borders on fine dining. You’re invited to take a seat in a cosy, elegant booth that give a feeling of privacy or on kangaroo skin covered chairs with comfortable cow hide cushioning.
Rows of pickle jars and lush green fernery frame the bar with whisky and bourbon taking centre stage. The eye is drawn to the saddle style bar stools that invite you to perch comfortably and have a drink at the bar. Look up and the exposed copper piping blends seamlessly with the industrial lighting. The chilled, laid back acoustic music blends in with the ambiance and remains non intrusive on conversations. You get the feeling that every detail has been well thought to give you a total experience.
Water is served with hand-chipped ice spheres and it is time to sit back, relax and study the menu.
Tanqueray 10, Mango, Apricot, Citrus
The drinks menu begins with signature cocktails designed to be easy drinking, such as this mixture of Tanqueray 10, Mango, Apricot, Citrus ($22), a refreshing and fruity starter.
Four Pillars Gin, Vermouth, Dill, Orange
Martini drinkers would enjoy the combination of Four Pillars Gin, Vermouth, Dill, Orange ($22), a savoury style of drink which comes served on ice with a side of cornichons, savoury style served on ice. As well as signature cocktails, a page is devoted to classics ($20) followed by a selection of beer, spirits and a tempting wine list.
Chef Damien Domenico is at the helm of Norsk Dor. He brings his experience of living and working in Sweden with flavours, textures and ingredients that Sydney may not be that familiar with. “The cuisine is an amalgamation of various Scandinavia countries”, he explains but don’t go expecting meatballs. The menu is presented as a small list of ingredients and you’d do well to ask the helpful team for direction and step out of the familiar comfort zone.
Nordic Style Breads, Lard, Butter
Nordic Style Breads, Lard, Butter ($8) is well worth ordering. Sample the variety of rye breads – all baked in house – as you lather on a layer of salted butter or goose fat lard with onion and butter. The selection includes crisp rye bread, seeded rye bread, pumpernickel, flat rye and the cutest dense rye bread mini loaf.
Local Oyster, Cider Sorbet, Citrus
Local Oysters ($4 each) come with cider sorbet and citrus, a delightful combination of salty and sweet followed by a refresher or finger bowl.
*** Please note that the following dishes are smaller than their usual serving size.***
Gravlax, Hard Bread, Roe, Dill, Mustard
This dish of Gravlax, Hard Bread, Roe, Dill, Mustard ($17) brings vibrant, clean, fresh flavours of the Mt Cook salmon from New Zealand. The fish has been cured in salt and sugar and served with piquant brown mustard that delivers a bit of heat which enhances this dish. The hard bread is traditional and meant to be this way but do not let that deter you from this dish.
Bone Marrow, Akvavit, Rye
Decadence on a plate is the best way to describe the Bone Marrow, Akvavit, Rye ($17). The Bone Marrow is rich, smooth and utterly delicious. You can eat the marrow as is or spread onto the mini dark rye loaf. Either way, save some of that bread to soak up the juices in the bone. Do not ignore the little side of micro dill, herbs and pickles that is bright and refreshing. The Akvavit, with its slightly sweet style, makes a perfect palate cleanser once finished eating with bursts of herbs and notes of dill, tarragon and liquorice on the finish. This is a dish not to be missed.
Smoked Skagen, King Prawn, Roe, Toast, Cress
This classic Swedish dish, Smoked Skagen, King Prawn, Roe, Toast, Cress ($19) places a fresh plump smoked New Zealand king prawn on top of a layer of fresh cherry and apple mixed with mayonnaise and roe served on the house made rye bread. This comes together so well with the smokiness of the prawn balanced with the creaminess of the mayonnaise and the roe adding a salty element as it pops in the mouth.
Blue Custard, Fig, Macadamia, Leek
Blue Custard, Fig, Macadamia, Leek ($16) come together in a visual feast with a beehive shaped cone of blue cheese custard with beautiful fresh caramelised and charred figs. The macadamia adds another texture layer and leeks piquancy to the dish.
Beet, Almond, Goats Cheese, Malt, Cardamom, Cress
This salad of Beet, Almond, Goats Cheese, Malt, Cardamom, Cress ($27) presents the beetroot three ways; grilled crushed and chopped and makes for a contrasting dish of textures with firmness of vegetables combining with the crunchiness of the nuts and crisp bread and the smoothness of the Yarra Valley goats cheese. The vinegar dressing cuts the sweetness with a hint of acidity with the cardamom bringing lovely lingering notes to the dish.
Cured Kingfish, Red Currants, Five Spice Kipfler
Fresh Cured Kingfish, Red Currants, Five Spice Kipfler ($35) has the Kingfish cured for 8 hours in salt and sugar then sliced large sashimi style then flamed with lightly charred onion rings on top make it sing. Served atop a bed of spiced Kipfler potatoes with a raspberry sauce imparting a balanced hint of sweetness and tartness.
The Ross Hill Pinnacle Chardonnay 2014 ($85) was able to make its way across the textures and flavours of the diverse dishes above with its intense fruit, balance and complexity.
Venison Sampler, Root Vegetable, Fennel, Berry, Carrot
Next comes what is destined to be the signature dish, Venison Sampler, Root Vegetable, Fennel, Berry, Carrot ($44). The venison is prepared three ways: seared tenderloin, tender, pink and full of flavour; pulled venison shoulder, a little sweeter on a bed of root vegetable puree and berries; and the pick of the three, the smoked backstrap with maple, sliced very thin and full on gamey flavour and smoke. The different cuts of venison are accompanied by carrots prepared three ways with a creamy carrot log mousse that is ever so light in texture that it dances on the tongue.
The Meerea Park Hell Hole Shiraz 2014 ($120) is a perfect pairing with its dark berry aromas. This is a well balanced wine that lingers on the palate and that couples with the flavours and the textures of the venison.
Sides include Hasselback Potato ($6), Greens ($9) and Leaf Salad with House Dressing ($7).
Swedish Chocolate Cake, Ice Cream, Toffee
This traditional Swedish Chocolate Cake, Ice Cream, Toffee is beautiful, moist and light even though being rich in 70% cocoa. It is simply served with vanilla ice cream and a selection of berries.
Pear, Anglaise, Glogg, Sorbet
This comforting dessert of Pear, Anglaise, Glogg, Sorbet ($10) brings together pear poached in glogg, which is mulled wine from the Nordic countries, together with beetroot sorbet that has an earthy flavour that works so well with the pear. The little pot of anglaise lets you decide how much you wish to add and whether you put it over or at the side.
Liquorice Brulee, Cherry, Biscuits, Cardamon
Naturally, we’re leaving the best dessert till last. The Liquorice Brulee, Cherry, Biscuits, Cardamon ($11) brings out the superlatives. A perfect top to crack with perfect crunch and creamy smooth salted liquorice take you to liquorice heaven. The dessert is accompanied by ripe black cherries and cardamom biscuits.
To accompany desserts, the recommendation of Woodstock Little Miss Collett Moscato 2014 ($35 bottle) works a treat as this Muscat is slightly sweet and floral and does not overpower the desserts.
Nork Dor brings a unique Nordic dining experience to Sydney. The photogenic venue is elegant and inviting, and while aesthetics may catch your attention at first, it is the creativity and technique of the dishes coupled with the knowledgeable and unobtrusive service that linger in memory. To choose a favourite dish is no easy feat. The Bone Marrow, Skagen, the Venison Sampler with the Liquorice Brulee as the sweet option are the top picks.
Curiosity may bring you down to Nork Dor the first time but the total experience will bring you back.
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70 Pitt St, Sydney
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