Now that East of Norman is well and truly open for business, Adelaide Food Central were invited back to sample their newly added dinner menu. If it was anything like the breakfast menu we were definitely in for a treat!
Together with an extensive beer and wine list, East of Norman also offers a range of cocktails just like any good kitchen and bar. To begin with Adelaide Food Central was treated to the likes of an Espresso Martini, a Mojito and an Old Fashioned cocktail. All of the drinks were beautifully presented. East of Norman has a chilled-out vibe about it and really is a great place for relaxing at night time with a cocktail, or a glass of wine, accompanied by some bar snacks from their menu, such as a charcuterie board or cheese plate. Now, onto more important things, their dinner menu…
The first ‘small plate’ sampled from the menu was the Ceviche. On this particular day the ceviche special was barramundi. For someone who doesn’t like fish, let alone raw fish, I found this dish to be rather tasty and very ‘summery’. The cured barramundi was fresh, well-seasoned and surprisingly not fishy at all. The barramundi was complemented by the crispness of corn kernels, thinly sliced capsicum and coriander sprigs and a subtle hit of chilli brought all the elements together.
The next dish to arrive at our table was the Kangaroo Tataki with enoki mushrooms, warrigal greens and aioli. Whilst kangaroo isn’t a meat I would usually choose I am very glad that co-owner Seb suggested this dish. Tataki is a Japanese method of briefly searing meat or fish over a hot flame or pan. The kangaroo was tender and perfectly cooked. Everything about this dish worked so seamlessly together. If I ate this dish with my eyes closed I could have sworn that I was eating teriyaki beef at a five-star Japanese restaurant. This dish was absolutely delicious and by far the standout for me!
Our third ‘small plate’ was the Carpaccio of Venison and Emu served with cumquat and rocket. Again, venison and emu are not meats I would usually find myself ordering, but I put my faith in East of Norman’s chef. The venison and emu carpaccio was elegantly presented with consistently thin circles of alternating proteins arranged on the plate. For me the citrus kick provided by the cumquat overpowered the carpaccio, which should have been the hero of the dish. Mr L on the other hand loved the citrus flavours that accompanied the carpaccio and chose this as his favourite dish of the night.
We also selected a Pumpkin, Red Onion, Quinoa, Spinach, Cucumber and Ricotta Salad with a wholegrain mustard dressing to accompany our other dishes. This salad was delightfully refreshing and teamed with the kangaroo tataki was a match made in heaven! My only criticism is that I would have liked the quinoa to dominate the dish more.
We rounded out the savoury side of things with a pizza topped with pork belly, spring onion, coriander, enoki mushroom and house made BBQ sauce. This was just one of eleven different pizzas offered on the menu at East of Norman. The first thing I noticed about the pizza was its rich cheesy aroma, reminiscent of a freshly toasted cheese sandwich. The sweet BBQ sauce complemented the shredded pork belly well; however, given that the toppings were used quite sparingly I personally would have loved to see big chunks of pork belly on the pizza. I mean who doesn’t love pork belly? The pizza base was thin, which was importantly well-cooked and not greasy.
Now, moving on to my favourite part of any meal… dessert. The first sweet dish we tasted was the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée with caramelised white chocolate soil and macadamia ice cream. The crème brûlée was slightly on the runny side; however, this didn’t detract from the rich and creamy custard base with vanilla undertones. The caramelised sugar on top was golden in colour and had the perfect ‘crunch factor’ as the spoon broke through to the custard below. For me this dessert was a textural delight; from the warm, smooth custard, to the cold ice cream with chunks of macadamia nuts, to the fine dusting of crunchy white chocolate soil. This was my favourite dessert on the night.
The next dessert was the chocolate and beetroot tart served with double cream and beetroot chips. Never in a million years would I have predicted that I would be eating beetroot in a dessert dish. The tart itself was what you would call ‘wickedly decadent’, so make sure you leave some room, unless like me you have a separate dessert stomach. The tart on its own was very rich and quite bitter due to the high percentage of cacao chocolate, but eaten with a dollop of cream this bitterness was completely suppressed. In case you are all wondering about the beetroot flavour; it’s subtle and adds a crucial element of sweetness to the tart. The standout component of this dish for me was the beetroot chips. Mr L voiced that they should “put them in a packet and sell them”, they were that good!
The final dessert and dish of the evening was the torched house made marshmallow with meringue crumble and summer berries. This dish was light and simple, yet elegant and tasty at the same time. Again the opposing textures and flavours shone through; from the sweet and fluffy marshmallow, to the crunchy meringue and tart berries. The marshmallows had the right amount of toasting evidenced by the golden top.
The dinner menu at East of Norman is perfect for sharing and is great value for money with the most expensive menu item coming in at $25, with the majority of dishes sitting well below the $20 mark. What becomes apparent as a diner at East of Norman is the attention to detail in the presentation of the dishes. Every single element of each and every dish is strategically positioned on the plate with suitable bursts of colour. What is also perfectly executed is the contrast between flavours and textures within the dishes.
With the festive season fast approaching, do yourself a favour and visit East of Norman with a bunch of friends or family for a celebratory cocktail or two… and why not stay for dinner. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
Adelaide Food Central would like to thank, Paul, Seb and the friendly team at East of Norman for their kind hospitality. All food and drinks were provided free of charge.
Words by Kelly Betterman
WHERE: 38 Sturt St, Adelaide