When trying to pinpoint how good a Sunday roast is, it always boils down to one question: ‘is it as good as my dad’s’?
Norma’s Sicilian-style Sunday roast was enjoyed before Boris issued the city on lockdown and almost 2 months in I find myself retreating to phone memories for a gluttonous glance at golden tatties and crispy chicken skin. If you haven’t already guessed it from that last sentence, Norma’s feast was a solid 10/10. A bit of a spoiler, yes, but after Jay Rayner gave this new restaurant the thumbs up, there's no need to keep you on your toes about it. But, if you want to fully understand why you need to visit this Fitzrovia gem, keep scrolling.
The Sicilian-inspired Sunday roast menu takes making decisions out of the equation, all thanks to their £70 menu for two. Each course has one option, meaning less hemming and hawing and more wiggling your index finger down the wine list. After zero time spent deciding what to have (and a few generous gulps of red wine), mini caciocavallo and mozzarella arancini with arrabiata swaggered into the spotlight. Thick blankets of parmesan rested atop six crisp balls, which when broken into gave way to molten nuggets of cheese. Mopped up with the rich and zingy tomato sauce, it wasn’t long until our empty plates were cleared away to create room for the main attraction.
Presented on several different platters and in beautifully decorated bowls, we gorged our eyes on roasted cauliflower gratin, vibrant Italian vegetables, golden roasties cut into chunky wedges and a substantially-sized golden free-range chicken. The chicken was far from dry with hints of lemon, garlic and thyme and when washed with a waterfall of silky gravy, magical things happened in my mouth.
No Sunday roast is completed without dessert (not even in Italy), and so the final instalment of our meal landed us a tiramisu for two. A far cry from my childhood ritual of wafers and HB ice cream, this dessert was full of sophistication, smartly dressed with a razor-thin layer of cocoa. The traditional coffee flavour it’s known for had mellowed out between the creamy layers and inevitably resulted in a somewhat serious clashing of spoons.
The food isn’t the only thing Norma has going for it, not by a long shot. The interiors at this Fitzrovia newbie are something you’d see inside a glossy magazine. Spacious velvet booths act as the perfect cocoon for catching up with friends and as you follow the gorgeous black and white tiled floor, you’re led to a larger opening that glows with yet more intimacy. Flushes of foliage, whitewashed walls with soft leather-bound chairs propped around dainty tables leave a lasting impression, and that’s without taking the mini cave of wine into consideration as it entices you to a) order another glass of vino or b) plan your next visit.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Usually this is the part where I tell you that Norma was outstanding but sometimes, it’s worth cutting to the chase early on. This Fitzrovia gem has got top marks from some very hard-to-please critics since its opening late last year and after my visit, it’s not hard to reason why. The set menu not only saves time but also takes out the frustration of watching a fork make its way towards your plate without permission (Joey doesn't share food). Not only that but the whole experience is incredible value for money.
Dad, if you're reading this - sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you might need to work on that gravy recipe.
Looking for more Sunday roasts in London? Check out our guide here.