14 December 2011
Orrery (named after a mechanical representation of the solar system for those who want to know) sits discreetly on fashionable Marylebone High Street.
Cuisine: Classic French
Best For: Discreet business lunches away from the City
Worst For: Hoxton-types
Nearest Tube: Baker Street/Regents Park
Access is via a lift from the ground floor (next door is Orrery’s café/épicierie) The layout is clean and simple - a long room comprised of two rows of tables separated by a central aisle; the décor crisp and airy thanks to one window-panelled wall which overlooking a small park. Very business-friendly.
Our fellow diners seemed to be either local business worthies or older ladies/gentlemen who lunch, having venturing from nearby St Johns Wood. I was told, however, that the dinner shift attracts a different crowd of City-types and Mayfair ‘hedgies.’
Guided by our charming and gnostic sommelier, we were steered towards very acceptable 2010 fragrant, medium-bodied Fleurie, matched to our food choice. The wine list is extensive with good selections from around the world - prices are ambitious, but not extraordinary for a restaurant of this calibre.
A first course of seafood ravioli and shellfish bisque ( a soup to you and me) for my companion and venison terrine for me were very well-presented.
The terrine was, unusually, prepared with fresh asparagus, which gave it an memorable but not unpleasant crunchy texture. The bisque was just how it should be - think long, lanquid evenings in the South of France; a smoothy, creamy brew bubbling with rich Mediterranean flavours.
Our mains. For me - navarin of Kent lamb with mashed potato and wilted leeks. Now this was beautiful. My only niggle? (and it’s me being very picky) the dish was served at room-temperature.
The lamb itself however was a melt-in-your mouth masterpiece, with the accompanying side dish of wilted, earthy spinach counterbalancing the richness of the lamb. A few degrees warmer and this dish would be a serious contender for a perfect ten.
For desert - apple strudel and cinnamon ice cream for my companion. A good choice, although I suspect it would have had Baron Mannheim von Apfel-Strudel of Schleswig Holstein-the inventor of this august dish spinning in his grave.
The Baron invented this desert in 1863 when 4 carts carrying apples, sultanas flour and butter collided at a crossroads on his land and rolled down a hill. The Baron therefore serendipitously invented both apple strudel and puff pastry at the same time, though doubts have been cast on the truth of this account.
This apple strudel bore little relation to the traditional version but was delicious nevertheless. It was made doubly, also serendipitously, delicious by the addition of a slightly deconstructed rum baba, which I had ordered but couldn’t finish ( inelastic waistband, you see) Rather more of a sponge than the usual yeast based confection (Orrery’s version was instead plated with finely chopped pineapple.)
We felt it would be rude to leave it, so faithful companion finished it off for me reporting that the double spoon-dipping of apple strudel and rum baba complemented each other very well. I’m not sure this combination would ever have occurred to the chef but I highly recommend it.
In summary, would I recommend the Orrery? Unequivocally. Go.
Jennie Kreser, Partner, Sherman Sherliker