Orrery

Published on View London on 25th July 2011:

In the first floor of a converted stable block is an airy French restaurant which overlooks Marylebone Church Gardens. The perfect blend of décor and views takes you somewhere that’s very far from the heart of Marylebone village.

The Venue
Orrery: A mechanical model of the solar system. Named after Charles Boyle, Fourth Earl of Orrery (1676 – 1731), for whom one was made.

That’s the first thing you will see on the menu but the restaurant isn’t really mechanical at all. The windows on the ceiling and all along the main wall allows plenty of natural light to flow in, providing a sense of the outdoors without any of the bother from insects and the weather.

The elegant venue is effectively split into two sections, the booths and the tables. The tables reside by the window with lush carpeting underfoot and views to match. The booths offer more privacy with panels intersecting sections of the restaurant. Both are equally well filled at dinner times.

The Atmosphere
Early diners may find the restaurant a bit library-like. The staff exchange in whispers and with few people around, the guests also find themselves talking in hushed tones. After 8pm however, things really start to pick up. Groups of well-heeled guests arrive in groups, presumably straight from work. The food is ferried out of the kitchen and down the aisles at top speed but despite the efficiency of the service, you might still find yourself waiting on your mains due to the volume of demand. At least there’s plenty of complimentary amuse-bouche between the courses to keep you going, should that happen.

The Food
The menu is set, rather than a la carte, but there’s a good selection to choose from nonetheless. The set menu starts at £30 and goes up to £48 for three courses depending on which of the offers you are taking up. There are also tasting menus available for £55 and £59.

A wild garlic velouté with garlic croutons makes an easy introduction to the meal or if you like, a pâté de Campagne with apple chutney and toasted brioche. There’s just the right amount to fill you with anticipation for the next course. For main, there’s a hearty roast rump of beef with shallot tart and red wine jus, or perhaps a creamy soft herb risotto with shaved Parmesan. It must be said that the menu isn’t terribly adventurous but fits well with the elegant French theme of the restaurant. To finish, the orange panna cotta with blood orange sorbet makes a fine palate refresher, although there’s also an excellent selection of cheeses from the trolley.

The Drinks
There are cocktails like the Kir Royale to choose from but wine is their main gig. The drinks list at Orrery is very extensive, containing vintages of wines and Champagnes, as well as everyday tipples. Prices start from around £20 a bottle and go up to almost a thousand pounds at the top of the range. The sommelier walks the floor and is happy to recommend wines according to the menu. Most wines are only available by the bottle but rest assured that they are expertly decanted.

The Last Word
Although service by individual staff is more than hospitable, as a team there is definitely room for improvement especially when it comes to the speed of the service. The food, although not overly inspiring, has been carefully considered and crafted.

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