Last week, I went to The Orchard for dinner. The Orchard is the sister of Apizz which I had gone to a few weeks back. The Orchard has the same wonderful vibe as Apizz. Warm, inviting and comfortable yet sophisticated and chic at the same time. The food, like Apizz was good. Some of the courses were delicious others were just okay but there is a charm to either restaurant which definitely draws me back.
My friend took me for my birthday. Every birthday we each celebrate by taking each other somewhere. It is a really nice tradition. We always ends up talking and laughing for hours. What is amazing is that the staff at The Orchard probably would have let us sit there for 5 hours. They could not have been nicer.
We began with the flat breads. My guess is, like Apizz, there is a wood burning stove in the back. The flat breads tasted like they had just come out of a wood burning oven. The bread was so crispy on the bottom like a really well done pizza. We went with the mushrooms. Flat bread shaped like a rectangle, cut into 6 pieces, covered with delicious mushrooms. This was a huge hit. I’d go back and order that and then try a few others.
We then split 3 appetizers and a main course. Crispy Lobster Empanadas. Small, almost finger length deep fried empanadas. These didn’t wow us. They were too bready and not enough stuffing. They came with celery sticks that had been stuffed with a creamy sauce. We also had the Grilled Filet Mignon wraps. They were good but not great. I did like the concept. Large slices of butter lettuce with a piece of filet mignon over the top that had been grilled. I would have like to have seen a larger piece of meat that had more flavor, maybe marinated. This was served with a spicy mayo and a chimichurri pesto which added a nice touch. The last appetizer was a huge hit. Yellowfin Tuna Tartare. Served on a rectangular white plate. On one end was the tuna tartare that was delicious, cut up and formed into a round mold. Next to it was a very creamy guacamole and a whipped red onion creme fraiche. With this was served grilled pounded breads that almost tasted like plantains. The crispiness and saltiness of the bread combined with the rest of the dish worked. A total winner. We both loved it.
For dinner we split the paella. Very different in some ways than your run of the mill paella. This was light and served with clams, mussels, shrimp, chicken and chorizo but everything was either cut up or miniature. The rice was light not heavy. It was served in a round dish. We literally licked the bowl clean. A total hit.
For dessert we had the churros. So good. Long pieces of dough that were light, airy and crispy and covered with sugar. This was served with a chocolate and strawberry dipping sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. It was a must for yourself or the table.
They also have a great wine list and it is obvious someone took a lot of time creating it.
I give John LeFemina a lot of credit. He is a self made chef. Check out his book, A Man and His Meatballs. He chose the location of the LES to open two restaurants. The charm of both of these restaurants would probably be around for 30 years if he had chosen to open them up in a different location like the Upper Westside or the Upper Eastside. Instead, he chose the LES. He was a pioneer with Apizz. As the neighborhood changes, as does the clientele. He obviously had vision for what the neighborhood would eventually become. Maybe he will be around the LES for another 30 years too. I hope so.