I have to say that Norman's is a wonderful restaurant. First, it's really warm and welcoming inside. The brown and yellow tones of the interior just gave out a soothing ambiance. After a hectic work week, Norman's atmosphere was just fabulous. I also enjoyed the music, which was quite eccletic, kind of a like a jazzy world type of music and what was nice is that it played in the background. Just soft enough to enjoy listening to it, but not so loud that you couldn't talk to the people at your table. The service was also good and the wait staff was attentive.
Now on to the food. While our main purpose was to partake in the Pig & Paella feast, a couple of us did order an appetizer. I had their mixed green salad, which was interesting in its presentation. Most salads come already mixed with the toppings. My salad came with the walnuts, cheese and one other ingredient that escapes me, but all beside the salad, but not mixed with it. The salad was already tossed with the dressing, which was a mild, but still flavorful vinaigrette dressing. It was actually nice to not have to hunt for your salad toppings. Almost each bite of salad had one of the toppings included. Maybe, not a big deal, but I just found that unique.
Someone else ordered the Brazilian Conch Chowder which was flavored with Star Anise and Coconut Milk and she raved about the flavor. Her words were that the conch chowder was as good as she's had back home in the East Coast.
After our starter, out came out pig and paella feast. Wow, as Rachel Ray says, "Delish", with a capital "D". On the plate were quite a few items. Let's start with the roast pork. Oh my gosh! Everyone was in heaven. The pork was succulent, tender and with it being flavored with fresh lime, it had a subtle tangy taste to it.
With the pork came the paella. I personally didn't care for the paella that much. The rice seemed a bit dry and didn't have much flavor. It did come heaped with mussels, clams and other seafood, so that was a definite plus; however, while I normally love mussels, one of the mussels I ate had an extremely icky, fishy taste to it and I couldn't get myself to eat any of the other seafood items that came with the paella.
Other sides that came included a slaw that was absolutely fantastic and mashed sweet potatoes. It was very light and refreshing and instead of mayonaise, it was made with a whole-grain mustard vinaigrette. I think I rather would have had more of slaw than the paella. The mashed sweet potatoes were also a definite hit! It tasted very fresh to me and I liked the fact that they didn't really add much to it and that way, you can enjoy just the natural sweetness of the potatoes by themselves.
So far, the meal has been very good, which is why I was disappointed with dessert. A friend and I ordered the banana and chocolate bread pudding and what came out didn't say bread pudding to me at all. This banana and chocolate bread pudding came in a bowl. There were chunks of chocolate-sweetened bread embedded in what was basically a custard that tasted like vanilla. If the custard was supposed to taste like banana, it failed. It wasn't until you got towards the bottom of the bowl that you actually started tasting the fresh banana that was underneath all the custard.
I didn't even finish my share of the dessert. I found the custard too sweet for my taste and would have actually liked more bread in my bread pudding. Other desserts ordered were a cheesecake, a pancetta and ice cream.
Overall, I really loved my dining experience at Norman's and will definitelly head back to check out their regular menu at a later time.
8570 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069