It was Annie who suggested we went to The Orrery last night; she’s seen an offer on OpenTable – three courses for £30. I’ve eaten many times at their cafe, Orrery Epicerie (seen far right with green awning in photo above), which is fantastic, but never in the restaurant. I love this part of London – Marylebone High Street, also known as Marylebone Village; I harbour fantasies about selling up my house in Twickenham and moving there. It would have to be a flat only! But what a wonderful place to live in the heart of central London and very close to Regent’s Park so lots of nice open, walking space. Three to four years ago, I spent about a year working one day a week in a publishers I do a lot of freelance work for who are based in Euston Road. Marylebone High Street was my usual wandering ground come lunchtime: sometimes having a snack in Orrery Epicerie or at Le Pain Quotidian further down the road. Last night, I couldn’t resist going a little early to have a look round – and inevitably bought some things in the fantastic shops there. First of all I went into The Conran Shop, above which The Orrery is situated. The Orrery was once part of the Conran empire. The shop below is one of my favourite shops. I bought something very small but found all kinds of gorgeous homewares – for the kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc.- that I’d love to have bought too. From there I wandered down to Daunt Books. This is one of the best bookshops in London, still independent and originally an Edwardian bookshop. Just to go inside is a pleasure; the inside is wonderful. You won’t find Waterstone deals in here, but you’ll find everything beautifully laid out with notes about some of the books. I ended up buying two! How could I resist The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide, a publishing sensation in Japan? ‘… brimming with philosophical observation, humour and intelligence’ say Publishers Weekly. My other purchase was Grayson Perry’s Playing to the Gallery. The transvestite artist Perry is one of my heroes. His show at the British Museum three years’ ago was one of the most exciting art exhibitions I’ve ever been to and he’s always a fascinating speaker. The book is based on his recent Reith Lectures. My other purchase was at The Little White Company. Here I found a gorgeous gift for my lovely god-daughter’s baby son, born on Monday. And then it was time to go and meet Annie!
I was a few minutes early and the first to arrive so they took me up to the Terrace to wait. There was a great selection of cocktails and it was a fine venue to enjoy one, but I didn’t want to drink too much and preferred to wait for just wine with my meal. Annie arrived soon after and we went downy to our table. The offer had stipulated being there by 6.30 – but we were the only guests! However, the restaurant filled up pretty quickly after and was full and buzzing with life once we were into our meal. They brought the special menu and there was a good choice; four choices for each course. We ordered and soon after an amuse-bouche was brought and bread offered from an excellent choice.
The lovely, warm choux puffs were full of cheese and very delicious. And then, as if one amuse-bouche wasn’t enough, a second came!
This was fantastic! A real treat. A rich mushroom duxelle was at the base covered in a celeriac frothy custard, over which fresh truffle had been shaved. Wow! Then it was the starter we’d chosen, both going for Parfait of foie gras, apple chutney and Poilane toast.
This was gorgeous too. We’d both chosen the same main course (Annie and I invariably do!). This was Poached salmon, polenta, ceps, cauliflower, Champagne veloute.
Yes is does look beautiful, doesn’t it! And it tasted as wonderful as it looks. Perfectly cooked salmon; the polenta little fried discs, so gorgeously crisp on top. This was excellent cooking. And then, once we’d finished and a good amount of time given us before we moved on with our meal, another surprise: a pre-dessert.
A lemon curd custard lay on top of a berry compote. Yum! For the real desserts, Annie and I had chosen differently. I made a fairly unambitious choice by comparison, going for Apple tart and vanilla ice cream. But you know, I just love a good apple tart!
This was more like tarte tatin with its caramelised apples and topped with a deliciously smooth vanilla ice cream. Just my thing … except when I saw Annie’s I did wonder if I should have been more adventurous!
Chocolate mousse, mango sorbet and crumble. What a beauty! But that wasn’t all. We ordered coffees (very good too) and they came with truffles.
What a fantastic meal. Everything was wonderful; there were no disappointments. The service was super efficient and delightfully friendly (i.e. just the right amount of friendliness!). There was a nice hum of people enjoying themselves in the restaurant; the decor was minimalist stylish with soft lighting but not so low you couldn’t read your menu! We chose a Languedoc rose 375ml carafe of wine at £19 (there were cheaper wines as well as more expensive) and thus, the meal with wine, coffee and 12.5% service added came to almost £50 each. And well worth it was too, by London prices. It was a fabulous meal, a great location and a lovely evening. This is somewhere I definitely want to return to!