Restaurant review: Orchard Kitchen, Holborn, WC1


Orchard - Credit: Archant

Dishes at the Orchard Kitchen have a very short lifespan indeed.

This little eaterie, more cafe than restaurant, is evidently run by a ruthless bunch of chefs, who think nothing of killing off every concoction after just one week – no matter how tasty.

A brand new menu is presented every Monday, spelling imminent doom for everything I touched on my Saturday visit (there are no Sunday openings). Which is a pity, because much of it was very special indeed.

Take the butter bean cake. It was an unexpected earthy treat, forming a bed for some lightly smoked cauliflower and foraged alexanders. Surely that one warranted a stay of execution?

Alas, onto the chopping block it went before being lopped into an unmarked grave for discarded recipes.

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A novel combo of a rich fried duck egg on a scone went the same way, as if its culinary merits were no greater than a loaf of mouldy bread.

No matter that the sweetness of the scone was nicely tempered by being impregnated with spring onion, or that it was well accompanied by tomato jam (ketchup to you and I).

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Before going any further, I should mention that one of the main selling points of Orchard Kitchen, at least for a proud meat shirker like myself, is that the food is vegetarian.

Not that you would notice straight away – the word is barely mentioned because chef-owner Andrew Dargue doesn’t think people want it pushed in their faces, and I reckon he’s right.

In fact, it’s an offshoot of top-end veggies’ paradise Vanilla Black, which is just up the road but pretty distant in feel.

While that restaurant is one of the few establishments bringing fancy dining to the meatless masses (ahem), Orchard is a much more relaxed affair.

It’s a small and slightly rustic space, with only a handful of mismatched tables. It doesn’t open late so it’s no place for lavish dinners, and is just as likely to serve coffee with (outstanding) cakes as a slap-up lunch.

The savoury menu features soup, sandwiches and a variety of hot and cold plates.

The selection is quite small, presumably due to the frantic recipe turnover, but it is all quirky, adventurous and satisfying stuff.

It’s just a shame I can’t pop back to try out the dishes I missed like welsh rarebit on dried fruit soda bread. But then, I get the impression another visit would throw up some pleasant surprises.

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