Friday, February 08, 2008


Thurs 7 Feb 2008

Lunch club service resumed and we headed off to Norman on Call Lane. My first (and only) experience of Norman was a visit about six years ago, when I went to eat on a Friday night. Big mistake. It was more in bar mode and the food was a little clumsy. Salmon with miso mayonnaise - potentially brilliant in concept, dire when it's miso paste mixed through with a little mayo. Subsequently, it has been recommended to me by an acquaintance who eats out a lot - he maintains it is one of the best value lunchtime venues in Leeds. Before we even arrived my lunch mates had various gripes: they won't let me in on a Friday night, the food is OK but it's far too slow.

This probably makes you wonder why we were even heading there ... Well, we'd been assured that service had sped up and, in my case, perhaps six years is long enough for a venue to change.

Norman has had a facelift since I last visited, and the young man who was our waiter was affable. There's a good range of beers on draught (excluding real ale, but don't forget - Norman is where the beautiful people run), and the menu consists of a broad range of south east Asian staples. Most excitingly, all day Monday and between 12 and 3 every day, all main courses (normally around the £8 mark) are £5. Effectively, you're getting your drink for free. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a wine/drinks list. Although a couple of us were interested in ordering wine we didn't bother and stuck with beer.

Lindebooms and Amstels firmly in place we ordered: pad thai was the most popular choice, with a nasi norman and a Thai green curry bringing up the rear.

And then we sat chatting and drinking our beer. And chatting some more. And then we looked at our watches and realised that lunch time was (or should have been) over. Someone asked "who's going to complain?". I hardly needed the invitation ...

When the food arrived it was good value for £5. All the basics were absolutely bang on: the nasi norman had been ordered without the fried egg and that's how it arrived and the portions were generous. There was absolutely nothing wrong. My Thai green curry was erring on the cautious side of spicy and, if I was being picky, I could argue it was a little heavy on the coconut cream. But for £5 I won't. But there was also nothing outstanding that warranted the wait.

Given that we had had to ask about our food I was disappointed to note that our second (smaller) round of drinks hadn't been knocked off the bill. If that had happened I might be inclined to be more glowing about the service. While the main waiter who dealt with us was good, another waiter showed a complete lack of concern about the whereabouts of our food.

So would I go back? Actually, yes I think would. If I were wandering around town on a weekend and found myself fancying some noodles and a few beers I might head in (then again, I might head in preference to Fuji Hiro ...). I'm not convinced that I'd be happy to pay full price and for lunch mid-week the service is far too slow.

Best summed up in one word ... ambivalent.

Cost: £10 per head (one main course and around 2 drinks per person)

1. Norman, 36 Call Lane, Leeds, LS1 6DT, phone: 0113 234 3988

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it's a little way out of Leeds, but in my experience it's really worth the trip....Lockwoods Restaurant in North Street Ripon


10:27 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Never eaten out in Ripon ... has anyone else tried this restaurant?

3:08 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

We went a couple of weeks ago with some friends. It is the best. Great food, excellent service and a real "wow factor" atmosphere. In fact The Times has just awarded it "No1 family owned restaurant in the UK"

4:15 am  
Blogger Alex said...

I couldn't find a link for The Times but googling this restaurant certainly suggests that it's very popular.

12:49 pm  

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