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Lunch review: East of Norman

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With My Kingdom for a Horse just across the other side of Whitmore Square, it felt like there was a Shakespearean vibe in the city’s south-west corner when East of Norman opened.

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But there’s nothing esoteric about East of Norman; it’s simply a busy modern eatery on the ground floor of the Ergo Apartments on Sturt Street … on the east side of Norman Street.

And with talk that the New Mayfield apartment development right across the road will include another restaurant or two, in a couple of years’ time this area may indeed become the foodie precinct it’s being touted as.

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East of Norman interior. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

The fit-out at East of Norman was designed by Claire Kneebone, whose style is also stamped on the interiors of 2KW, Press, Jack Ruby’s, Udaberri and Salopian Inn. It follows her aesthetic of mixing natural elements with high-quality furniture and fittings, and using interesting textures in place of colour. The wave-shaped concrete and marble mosaic bar is a highlight.

East of Norman was opened by barista Sebastian Russell, who started Glenelg coffee sanctuary Pure (now T-Bar). So it follows that coffee is very important here. Russell continues working with specialty roasts from Melbourne’s Five Senses. He has a sizeable whisky collection behind the bar because he says it’s what he likes to drink when he’s not drinking coffee. He’s also building up his offering of local gins.

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Top-shelf whisky. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

The smell of coffee and a chance to be a bit more creative lured chefs Allan Hickey and Aleks Tasic from behind the stoves at The Greek on Halifax in November last year, when East of Norman opened.

The pair has designed a broad menu that covers everything from all-day breakfast to pizza, with a modern Australian list of lunch dishes and generous small plates for sharing. You can see Hickey and Tasic working in the open kitchen behind that wave-shaped bar.

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The open kitchen. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Favourite dish: Confit mushrooms with polenta, baby spinach and Persian feta ($17). A smear of Persian feta beneath a mix of exotic buttery mushrooms and two wedges of golden-crusted polenta – so rich, so indulgent.

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Confit mushrooms. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Other dishes: Pressed lamb shoulder with beetroot and horseradish puree ($22). A very generous serving of tender and tasty lamb shoulder complemented by the sweet, earthy and piquant flavours of the root vegetables and topped with crunchy deep-fried snowpea sprouts.

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Pressed lamb shoulder. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Tempura okra with chilli jam ($15). Okra is often seen pickled or used as an ingredient in Indian and southern American food; when cooked, the flesh of the pod becomes very gooey. Tempura-battered and fried okra is crisp on the outside and slimey on the inside, making a nice tapas-style snack. The serving was very large and, like with oysters, most people can only take so much of that mouth-feel.

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Tempura okra. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

A neighbouring diner's lunch dish - Lamb rump, pumpkin, quinoa and feta salad. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

A neighbouring diner’s lunch dish – Lamb rump, pumpkin, quinoa and feta salad. Photo: Nat Rogers/InDaily

Something sweet/to drink: The dessert menu is short, offering four dishes priced between $10 and $15. After the generosity of the small plates, we had no room, but they are all worth a mention: Vanilla bean crème brulee with caramelised white chocolate oil and macadamia ice cream; Chocolate and beetroot tart with double cream and beetroot chips; Torched house-made marshmallow with meringue crumble and summer berries; and Potted chai panna cotta with shaved chocolate and shortbread.

The wine list is concise, offering a mix of local and imported varieties, but there is always whisky and there are around 30 examples from all over the world with up to 25 years age.

East of Norman is friendly and versatile – it’s the kind of place you could go for everything from coffee and knock-off drinks to late-night suppers or just dessert.

East of Norman
44-48 Sturt Street, Adelaide, 8211 6159
Open Monday, 7.30am to 4pm; Tuesday to Thursday, 7.30am to 11pm; Friday, 7.30am to midnight; Saturday, 8am to midnight; Sunday 8am to 4pm.

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