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Norman's Pig Roast on Friday - Wonderful

  • c

Went to Norman's last friday for their pig roast in the Caja China. I must say it was the best pork I have had in a long time.

The pork itself was like butter, so tender and moist, and the skin was so crispy. They marinate it in a mojo sauce and the flavor was really rich. It came with a delicious coleslaw which was perfect to cut the grease of the pork and the "fufu" (mashed sweet potato & plantains) was delicious.

We had the corn & conch chowder to start which was very fresh and sweet. App, 2 orders of the pork and two cocktails for only $70. The pork at $19 is a steal. Definately worth trying out.

Norman's on Sunset
(323) 661-1887
8570 W Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

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  1. I'm so glad to see such an enthusiastic post about Norman's. I think it is one of the best restaurants to open in Los Angeles in recent years, as do several of my colleagues, who are major foodies. The food, service and decor/ambience are just a cut above so much of what opens around town. This is a first-class place.

    It's troubling that the restaurant just has struggled to find an audience/customer base. (On recent nights, including Saturdays, the dining room has been only half full.)

    I really hope more people give it a try. Los Angeles needs more serious restaurants like Norman's. It'd be a real loss if the place doesn't make it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: JF Fresser

      Agree on all counts!

      1. re: RicRios

        I really agree with you. I forgot to mention that the service was amazing, and they ended the night with a small plate of petit fours because we were so full from our dinner that we couldn't have dessert.

        We also noticed that the restaurant wasn't filling up which is dissapointing because the food, ambiance & service was great.

        Aside from the pig roast, the tasting menu looked amazing! Might have to try that next.

        1. re: CarlieInLA

          I went last Friday with the girlfriend and had a great meal. She had the Pig Roast ($20) and I ordered the Tasting Menu ($75). They were nice enough to let me swap out the Roast Pork in the Tasting Menu for the Short Ribs with Halibut Cheeks entree since we were already getting some pig to taste. The entree (which was $40 a la carte alone) was quite good. Also, great Conch Chowder, Foie Gras French Toast, and Bananas / Rhum/Macadamia Nut Ice Cream Flambe in the Tasting. The bill was only $100 for before tip (including a great Pisco Sour from the bar) and we each had a ton to sample. I was definitely impressed.

      2. re: JF Fresser

        I couldn't agree with you more. I think Norman's is a wonderful restaurant and have posted about it often. I'd hate to see it disappear from Los Angeles.
        And, the cooking demonstrations that are held in the kitchen, are great fun and a very good deal!

        1. re: JF Fresser

          Hi... I walked passed Norman's several months ago and was greatly intrigued (while walking down the boulevard like a genuine rube - I'd mistakenly parked over a mile away from the House of Blues, in an effort to find reasonable parking). Just walking passed, I wanted to try Norman's, and due to so many positive reviews, shall do so. But I think Norman's may be suffering from an of unfortunate tendon in their culinary achille's heel: regrettably, I believe Los Angeles can be just superficial enough to overlook an above average restaurant, based solely upon it's moniker. Calling a restaurant of that caliber (on an expensive piece of real estate on the Sunset Strip) 'Norman's' is something akin to naming a child (who will grow up to be a supermodel) 'Bertha' or 'Hortense' (advanced apologies to any namesakes out there). Even Norm's is a better name than Norman's. Yeah, sounds koo-koo, but I think that the name doesn't engender any sense of panache, to the erudite diner. Presumably, one wouldn't go out of their way to investigate a high-end restaurant called 'Skank's' or 'Taint', either (assuming excellent food was the goal). I think 'Norman's' is an unfortunate choice for a name, in an area that is in every other way capitalizing on image/style... I plan to dine there, but "a rose, by any other name.." ain't called Norman's :-)

          1. re: silence9

            You might be right, in a way. But...
            what would you say of a pair of crazy guys that dare calling their fledgling garage computer business "Apple" ?
            Nonsense, right?

            1. re: RicRios

              No, "Apple" is kind of snappy. "Norman's" to me conjures up a picture of some pudgy guy in a bowling shirt.

              I *STILL* want me some of that pig, though!

            2. re: silence9

              I think the name is less of a problem than their location. In my experience, foodies are suspicious of Sunset Strip -- good food and glitz don't go together. So, we avoid Sunset typically, unless we're trying to talk our way into SkyBar. And the party people on the Sunset Strip aren't interested in seriously good food -- they want glitz and glamour, which Norman's does not provide. It provides a professionaly wait staff serving excellently prepared and creative food. Lindsay Lohan and the rest of the US Weekly starlets aren't interested in that, so the rest of the sunset strip crowd can't be interested in that either.

              now that foodies have discovered Norman's, we're all probably heading up there from time-to-time. Hopefully that's enough to keep them afloat. But the fact that they offer drink specials during a nightly happy hour is really discouraging. Really good restaurants shouldn't have to do that.

          2. I'm definitely going to have to try this soon. The only problem is that I have to battle Friday traffic from OC.

            1. b

              I waited tables at Norman's for a while. Truly a quality establishment, from the top down. Norman, as genuinely un-LA as his name (from the Midwest by way of Florida) once proclaimed, during one of his monthly stays in the kitchen, "If Angelenos can get into sushi to the extent they have, they can get into this food too." I would like to think he is right. (Think about all of the keystrokes devoted solely to raw fish on this board.) I am convinced that the restaurant would have done much better in Santa Monica or on the beach than it has on the Strip. Perhaps location is the Devil in this case. All one can do to preserve it is to keep talking it up I suppose.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BubbleandSqueak

                I went last Friday with a friend to celebrate my birthday differently with the Pig in cache dinner.
                Wonderful is not descriptive enough! Everything people have touted is TRUE!! Word of mouth cannot be enough to tout this hidden gem. Hopefully it will survive or move to "the valley"

              2. After last night's roast pork at Norman's, I gladly join its chorus of praise: food, drink, ambience, service were all excellent.

                Of the two problems mentioned on this board, we didn't find the Friday traffic particularly congested (OC a different story, of course), and, parking? There are lots of free parking for the Sunset Plaza half a block away.

                1. I've also experienced the almost-empty house feeling on weeknights. How much of a crowd was there on Friday night?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: djdebs

                    I hope that everyone gives Norman's a try. Peter Birmingham is one of the best sommeliers in the city. He has a vast knowledge and will treat wine with respect, but is never pompous with it. The location is tough for fine dining, but please it is our responsibility as Angelenos to support "people" doing it right. Norman's is a restaurant that does it right: Good food, great wine and service.....go tonight.

                    1. re: djdebs

                      It wasn't packed, but the dining room was almost full.

                    2. After all those good reviews, I had to check out the pig roast for myself. Went last night, and I'll be coming back ... the whole evening was great. Starting with the bread ... home made ciabatta ... with butter that had a touch of honey - very spreadable and delicious. I began with a shrimp ceviche appetizer, and it was delicious! Then I had the pig and the paella. The pig was great accompanied by a delicious Jersey white sweet potato with plantains (mashed), and a pretty good cole slaw. The paella disappointed ... it was spiced with something pungent which I didn't care for. The portions, by the way, were generous. I was full, but couldn't pass up their good selection of desserts. I opted for their bittersweet chocolate parcel with a lovely chocolate mousse, mango sauce and vanilla candied orange ice cream. Yummy! AND the service couldn't have been better. I forgot to mention the decor which was warm, retro-moderne, and very comfortable. They even had private booths with drawn curtains. All-in-all it was a memorable experience. Go! You won't be sorry!

                      1. great restaurant - Pig roast was really great- everything above well put above so no need to say anymore

                        1. My S.O. and I had the best meal of out lives at Normans the other night. We went on a Sat. night at 7:30 pm and only 2 tables were occupied. We saw that the chef's table was available and inquired about it and decided to have the 8 course chefs' tasting menu. Each course was truly outstanding and without being pretentious. By the time we left, approx. 10 pm, the place was only half full... I would hate to see this place go out of business.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jenngen

                            I couldn't agree more. Was there on Friday night, excellent service, great food, but the place was mostly empty. Don't understand why this place isn't packed every night. Drinks may be a little on the pricey side for the younger crowd.

                            1. re: MrStomach

                              The younger crowd is fairly used to paying $10-$12 for drinks, and these then are more expensive?

                              1. re: carter

                                2 glasses of wine and beer cost 50. Pretty high to me.

                          2. I love the pig/paella night but have only had average experiences with other nights/dishes (average as in some incredible, some gnarly). Some nights it seems everything is perfect, other nights like nobody is paying attention to anything.

                            I think their prices (high) are justified it when it is perfect.

                            I also find Norman's quite "formal-feeling" for LA.

                            1. Norman’s is a must. Michael Bryant is Chef de Cuisine and even though he is only 31, he is firmly in control of the kitchen. His execution, his layering of flavor, his own creativity is very much in evidence.

                              First off, we sat at the chef’s table. It is in the kitchen, but with enough distance that you don’t feel the heat, but still see the action.

                              Expert Sommelier, Peter Birmingham started us off with 2 glasses of Gruet Champagne from New Mexico.

                              They have a four-course signature tasting menu for $69 and an eight-course kitchen table menu for $125. We talked with Peter and said just let Chef Mike devise his own menu – do whatever he wants, be creative, have fun and put the emphasis on savory courses not dessert.

                              First Course – Scallop Tiradito with Saifun Noodles and Ponzu. The scallops were treated like a ceviche – sliced thin and “marinated” in a citrus-based “sauce.” On top of the scallops were tiny, diced bell peppers and cucumber. The deep-fried Saifun added a crunchy, textural component. Excellent.

                              Second Course – Duck Proscuitto, Mozzarella, “Melted” Tomatoes, Croutons, Nasturtium Flowers on top – The flavor pairing was excellent with the ingredients shining, not the saucing, which was just olive oil and salt and pepper. Our server referred to the tomatoes as “dried” but I am not sure that is correct. Maybe, “melted” is meant to signify that the tomatoes were slow roasted, but this is a guess on my part.

                              Third Course- Tuna Tartare draped by a slice of tuna. The tuna was done tataki-style with chayote squash. To the side was a rum and pepper “paint.” Again, excellent ingredients done beautifully. The paint added a touch of heat in a good way.

                              Fourth Course – Braised Veal with Parsnip Foam, Parsnip Puree, Chorizo Froth and a Summer Truffle. This was a last minute creation of Chef Mike and an A+ dish. I can’t begin to describe how well these flavors blended and it reminded me of Ludo’s cooking at his best.

                              Fifth Course – Braised pork belly, Pickled Pineapple, Kalamata Olives, Napa cabbage, Celery “weeds”, Grated lemon and a Lemon-Pineapple sauce. All I can say is that I was a very happy camper.

                              Sixth Course - To the left was Monkfish studded with bacon, preserved lemon and parsley and wrapped in caul fat cabbage with their version of A-1 sauce. The A-1 sauce was not the deconstructed version like Grant’s at Alinea, but a deeply concentrated, integrated rendition of what A-1 sauce can be in the hands of a talented chef. To the right were deep-fried Malpeque Oysters, applewood Bacon, Braised cabbage. My notes are very exact as Chef Mike was presenting the dishes and as long as I could write fast and keep my wits about me, I think they are accurate. This was just superb.

                              Seventh Course – Lobster Wonton with Topiko, Curry Emulsion, Soy Braised Lotus Root, Garbanzo beans with freshly grated Bonito on top – This almost served as a palate cleanser or a transitional dish before meat courses.

                              Eighth Course – Down Island French Toast- Foie gras – Tropical fruit salsa – This was the only dish that we requested as I had heard so much about it. The foie was seared and sat on a thick French toast brioche. The salsa was passion fruit and lemon zest. Another winner. Peter paired this with sake – I don’t remember the name, but it was an interesting and excellent pairing.

                              Ninth Course – Surf and Turf of Tomales Bay Diver Scallops and Beef short Ribs – Chocolate and Malbec Braised beef with Bing cherries and parsnip Puree

                              It was our choice not to have cheese or dessert.

                              This is another restaurant that should be supported by the fine dining public. It is a serious restaurant witth a talented chef and a superior sommelier. My only criticism would be some of the wait staff. Some are clueless about the cuisine, top off the wine continually and don’t match the excellence of this restaurant. This was our first time here and we plan to return.