21 Apr Nora, Carlton
Jean and Sarin have created an interesting space full of bright colours and simple furniture at Nora. It’s almost part-cafe part-art gallery with a table adorned with the ingredients used for the charcoal tarts available that day. Seating is limited, giving it an air of something really special.
Nora is located right next to the post office. I didn’t see any signage indicating its location clearly (or maybe I was too distracted by the brief interlude of warm, sunny weather during my walk), but the presence of outdoors tables gave me a hint.
Most of the menu items almost sound experimental and come matched with cryptic names, almost like what Heston Blumenthal might use.
My pick from the menu was Winter Campfire – smoked hock with five spice, cauliflower and basil ($19). There was both pickled cauliflower at the base and a more predominant, creamy cauliflower mixture surrounding the ham. For some reason the smokiness of the ham hock reminded me of lap cheong sausage. There was a sufficient chunkiness of ham to appreciate its flavours and to enjoy it with the cauliflower.
Lunch comes with complimentary side items, of which wombok was a surprising inclusion. It provided a refreshing interlude with its tamarind/tom yum-like curry paste topping. The popover was slightly cheesy and had a smooth, chewy and airy texture.
There were two varieties of charcoal tart when I visited. My choice was the vanilla poached quince, espresso cream, honey and caramelised cane sugar tart with feuillitine shards ($5). The tart base was very crunchy and difficult to cut with a spoon, but delicious when eating with hands. Underneath the espresso cream was a thin layer of honey, affording the tart a lovely, delicately sweet flavour, and I quite liked the contrast of smooth filling and crunchy pastry.
While it may not satisfy traditionalists, there’s plenty here for those wanting something out of the norm. Plus, there’s always charcoal tarts to enjoy…if you can catch them before they sell out.
156 Elgin St
Carlton, VIC, 3053
(03) 9041 8644