Located on the corner of Cook Street and Norman Street is a classy, yet simple Italian-inspired restaurant and cafe with a big heart.
Cook & Norman consists of a Trattoria – the restaurant, and its little sister, Sorellina – a light and bright cafe. A talented trio, Rowan and Janine Herrald, and Clinton Trevisi opened both spaces in 2015.
Rowan and Janine have an extensive background in high end dining. Rowan is a chef by trade and Janine, a pastry chef. While the two primarily work in the kitchen, they are hands-on business owners, interacting with customers wherever possible. Hospitality guru, Clinton, who boasts a range of experience, including a four-year stint as restaurant manager at the Royal Mail Hotel, oversees front-of-house ma ers.
The trio wanted to create a casual and relaxed venue that was simple, yet well executed. While they are moving away from fine dining, they have retained aspects of this style – the service is sharp, there is a high level of attention to detail and consistency remains at the forefront of everything they do.
Sorellina is the younger of the two venues, a welcoming, light-flooded space adorned with foliage and eclectic music, creating a relaxed and welcoming vibe. It sees locals pop in for take-away panini and pastries or a cup of Commonfolk Coffee on weekdays, while visitors and day-trippers frequent for all-day breakfast and lunch on weekends.
Janine prepares a range of pastries fresh daily to feed the hungry visitors – anything from almondine croissants, friands and muffins to the often sold-out bomboloni (traditional Italian donuts lled with orange custard or local strawberry jam). Janine also incorporates a range of local produce into her creations, including excess fruit from local customers’ trees and vines.
This is also true for the more savoury items on the all-day menu at Sorellina, which makes use of local fruit, vegetables, cheese, oil and seafood. Cook & Norman also has a kitchen garden that grows silverbeet, chilli, rhubarb and a massive range of herbs including parsley, oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary.
The cafe’s older sibling, the Trattoria, serves quality Italian fare for dinner five days a week, as well as lunch on the weekends. The atmosphere here is casual and the food remains simple yet refined. Fresh hand-made pasta paired with seasonal produce is the focus here. Clinton’s friendly and approachable manner ensures each service runs smoothly, and he happily provides food and wine advice to customers when needed.
A short yet snappy wine list features local bottles of pinot noir and chardonnay, the region’s benchmark grapes, while Italian varieties ranging from entry-level to higher end bottles round off the list.
Both the trattoria and cafe are modern but comfortable. Aspects of the original heritage building, which the trattoria occupies, are retained, including the stained-glass in the front window, the original light fittings that hang from the ceiling and the brick chimney.
Pull up a chair at a wooden table and soak up the warm, inviting ambience of Cook & Norman – what is fast becoming a local institution that has taken the fuss and theatrics out of fine dining and stripped it back to good quality, well executed food, wine and coffee.