First Look

Bar Norman, a Natural Wine Paradise, Opens Its Doors on SE Clinton

Wine star Dana Frank’s baby is here, and it’s a stunner.

By Benjamin Tepler July 24, 2018

The bar at Bar Norman

On July 18, nationally-recognized sommelier Dana Frank opened her long-awaited Bar Norman at 2615 SE Clinton (currently open 4 p.m.–midnight Tue–Sat, plus Mondays starting August 6).

For those who haven’t followed Frank’s ascension in the wine world: she spent years championing pure, wild fermentations at places like Ava Gene’s, Grüner, and natural wine-focused restaurant Dame. She earned superlatives as both Food & Wine’s “Sommelier of the Year” and Bon Appetit’s “Sommelier to Watch,” in 2015, and recently co-authored a wine-pairing cookbook, Wine Food.

What’s so special about Frank? She knows natural wine (sips made with organic or biodynamic grapes and without additives) better than anyone else in the city, constantly traveling around Europe to taste, learn, and meet the people driving the increasingly trendy style of winemaking.

Bar Norman's main room has a 9-seat bar and one long communal table. 

Bar Norman, named after her grandfather, is a beautiful, white-walled, plant-filled space. The front room, lined with floor-to-ceiling windows, is a cozy lounge and bottle library where you’ll find dozens of Frank’s picks—most between $20 and 30 (for retail, or to drink onsite with a $10 corkage fee). Through giant sliding doors, a lofted, light-filled, two-story room holds one long communal table, several smaller tables, and a mint-hued, 9-seat bar.

A server pours natural wine from the small, rotating collection of 25 bottles.

With the exception of her retail bottle shop, Bar Norman is all about glass pours. A big chalkboard holds her wines of the moment, roughly 25 on any given day. Frank, zipping around the room, is the person to ask for a totally no-pressure, almost guaranteed hit (or at least an interesting recommendation.) On a recent visit, a glass of Viennese J. Ambrositsch ‘Glockenturm’ won our hearts—sweet, fruity, and screaming with green apple.

Whether you’re a traditional wine nerd, a natural wine true believer, or a total novice, Bar Norman is shaping up to be one of the coolest new bars in the city.  

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