Design Dish: Say Yes To Norah RestaurantAuthor:Abigail Stone
Although West Hollywood certainly has plenty of choices when it comes to restaurants, Norah Restaurant is likely to be the first answer to the question of where to eat. Rohan Talwar and chef Mike Williams have crafted a menu and a space that’s pure New California. Here’s a place you can come with a date, with family, for a casual bite and distinctive cocktails or for a more substantial meal.
The name, Norah, is derived from the English word for “honor” and was chosen in homage to the restaurant’s hospitality driven approach to honoring their guests. The farm-to-table restaurant telegraphs its mission the moment you walk through the door. Pushing past the industrial sheen that’s dominated larger restaurants as of late, the Thomas Schoss-designed space is at once airy and warm. Schloss describes Norah’s aesthetic as a “study in Los Angeles’ indoor/outdoor living”.
The main room, a generous space with an eclectic mix of seating areas — long live-edge tables for tasting menus, a cozy corner sectional and chairs for a large group, a convivial marble bar, intimate two tops, substantial trestle tables surrounded by barrel chairs — is flooded with light brought in through the skylights that peek through its white-washed rafter and a line of glass doors that march along the front of the restaurant that open to a terrace that lets you sit and watch the parade of people along Santa Monica Boulevard.
Trees, planted right into the white oak floor, reinforce the decor. Playful bubble light chandeliers light up the space at night. The 24 seat wraparound bar carries out the restaurant’s two-toned, black-and-white theme, with one side adorned in white marble, and the other in dark stone, enhancing the dining space’s large-scale original black-and-white paintings. Comfortable custom seating, accentuated with tan leather, dark wood and black marble, invites you to stay a while. A lounge off to one side offers a more intimate dining or drinking experience.
The menu, which changes seasonally, is currently in its summer guise. That means their variation on an Aperol spritz and a spicy margarita’s just the right blend of fruit and heat. This being Los Angeles, there’s a vegan cauliflower tartare studded with crunchy chickpeas and drizzled with tahini and the restaurant’s homemade ice cream is vegan (though, given its creaminess, you’d never guess). There’s plenty of seafood: crispy octopus, fresh oysters and sea bass.
Tomatoes are lush at the farmer’s market and they make an appearance here in all their ruby red glory: in a fresh sauce topping potato gnocchi, melted into a tomato jam and twirled around creamy stracciatella, mozzarella’s decadent cousin. The meat is humanely-raised; there’s a pork tomahawk chop, a lamb chop and crispy half chicken. Drinks? Dinner? Late night bites? Just say yes.
For restervations: Norah Restaurant, 8279 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA, 323-450-4211
Top photo by Josh Telles; all other photos except bottom photo, by Alice Cho.