It’s almost normal.
But there are a few things that set it apart from the crowd. For one, it’s the first independent restaurant from upmarket boutique hotel The Stafford. And while the hotel itself is located in Mayfair, this particular venture can be found inside an elegant Fitzrovian townhouse.
Also, the space itself it’s exactly run-of-the-mill. There are no bare brick walls or exposed lightbulbs here. It’s a rich blend of Sicilian & Moorish textures, with three storeys of intricately patterned tiles, hefty slabs of green marble skirting, and warm orche-coloured booth seating. Taking up the ground floor is the restaurant, above that is the cocktail bar, and the cherry on top is the private dining room.
And then of course there’s the man in charge, Ben Tish. Aside from having a name that sounds like a snappy drum beat, he’s also the former chef director of the Salt Yard Group and current chef director at The Stafford – home to the delightful Game Bird and the American Bar. At Norma he’s taken inspiration from the island of Sicily, whose history of being fought over by both Italian & North African states for a few centuries here and there has led to a unique blend of culinary cultures.
The menu starts you off with ice-packed crudo bar (which you can browse in-person, should you fancy it) where you’ll find wild sea bream with pomegranate & cured roe; some bright red prawns with rosemary & orange; and cherrystone clams with saffron & shallots.
The larger dishes range from antipasti (like English burrata with aubergine & orange oil), to pasta (ravioli with sheep’s cheese and pistachio pesto, for example), to simple large plates like charcoal-grilled beef bavette with Romano peppers and grape must: a sweet, rich sauce made from crushed grapes.
And speaking of crushed grapes… there’s a solid wine list that’s led by several varieties of punchy Sicilian Marsala. And there’s that cocktail bar too – the drinks are named after the various Mediterranean invasions and re-invasions that’ve taken place over the last few thousand years, and include Malta’s Capture (whisky, limoncello, chin otto syrup, wood smoke); and Palermo’s Fall which involves brandy, cherry liqueur, and some cherry ricotta cream.
NOTE: Norma is open daily from 11.30am (noon on weekends). You can find out more, and make a booking at their website right HERE.
Norma | 8 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, W1T 2LS
Cocktail bar The Lucky Pig is also nearby for a quick drink before or after...