The Orrery restaurant boasts sensible, veg-friendly Michelin star dining in the heart of London.
Michelin-starred restaurants are normally shrines to carnivorism; their menus splashed with bloody Kobe beef and endless variants of foie gras. At such places vegetarians usually have a simple choice: a very expensive bowl of soup or a very empty stomach. This attitude, however, is entirely absent on Marylebone High Street, where the Michelin-starred Orrery offers a menu potager – a vegetarian tasting menu. According to the head chef, it’s not so much a case of placating the hungry veggies as simply offering a fresher, lighter option – apparently nearly 10-15% of diners who go for the full menu opt for it. And at six courses it’s certainly not going to leave anyone hungry.
So does it deliver? For the most part, yes. The highlight was undoubtedly an excellent creamy red wine risotto, which had a satisfying crunch of peas and fine green beans. Risotto is a dish that seems cookbook-simple yet is so rarely done this well. Too often in restaurants you get the sense that it was made long in advance and left on the stove for when needed – resulting in a mushy mess. What’s really needed is 20 minutes of furious activity with a spoon before a swift journey to the table – which this one certainly had.
Not far behind was a starter of chilled pea velouté with goats cheese ricotta; with the freshness of the vegetables again giving an intense flavour which was lifted even further by the accompanying dry sherry, a lovely foil to the creaminess of the ricotta. Prior to this, an amouse bouche of cucumber gazpacho was good but a little over-salty for this palate. Also excellent was the wide array of afternoon-baked fresh bread, of which we demanded seconds, thirds and even fourths.
The cheese course came on a necessarily large trolley replete with fromage enough to induce the most feverish nightmares. The pudding – a chocolate ganache – was delicious as it should be, but not exceptional. It’s hard to go wrong with a chocolate pudding so to be truly memorable it has to really shine.
The only blip was a tarte fines of artichokes and aged parmesan – deconstructed to the point where the tarte rather disappeared. It was also ever so slightly dry, though the Tokai wine that partnered it was fantastic.
The bill for food comes in at £46 a head – or £84 with the superb accompanying wine selection. It’s not cheap, but then meals at quality Michelin-starred restaurants never are.
The Orrery Restaurant London address: 55 Marylebone High Street, London, W1U 5RB
The Orrery London Opening Hours: daily from 12-3pm; 6.30-10.30pm