With so many trendy-wendy places to eat in London popping up (and subsequently disappearing), it’s refreshing to return to the classic fine-dining of yesteryear. Crisp white tablecloths; fancy French food cooked well; razor-sharp service; and a chic clientele of smart-suited city types and their elegant pearl-wearing wives. Which is exactly what Orrery offers from its two-floor space on Marylebone High Street. Discreetly tucked away above a furniture shop, diners ascend an elegant marble-clad staircase to reach the first-floor dining room; it’s simple and sophisticated, with white walls, grey chairs and pale wood panels throughout. Light streams in from the arched windows, and from a conservatory roof above. Ascend another staircase and diners will find themselves on one of the city’s rare rooftops, complete with bar and tables on which to enjoy an al fresco dinner.
On such a warm evening, it would have been foolish not to dine beneath the stars – it’s not often we get to in London, after all. After a couple of refreshing cocktails – a classic mojito and bellini – we were left by our crisply-attired waiter to peruse the French menu, overseen up by head chef Ihor Tymchyshyn. It’s certainly not for those on a diet – with the exception of a few lighter fish dishes, such as the Dorset crab for starter and Cornish bass for main – with more carbs crammed into a singular menu than we’ve seen in a long, long time. But then, that’s the point of eating out isn’t it? Salad-crunchers are advised to go elsewhere – Orrery brings it back to basics, with hearty, carnivorous fare to fill your well-heeled boots.
We opted for three courses for £48; while it’s certainly not on the cheap side, you get what you pay for with indulgent dishes that don’t scrimp on portions or indeed quality. The meal began with an amus-bouche of pea purée soup – a sign of the good things to come, as it turned out. Starters comprised of a red wine-poached duck foie gras, pear and Riesling jelly – rich, creamy and every bit as luxuriant as it should be – and seared Orkeny King scallop – plump, decadent and complimented by a creamy salad of sorts. Mains were more indulgent still in the form of Kentish fillet of lamb, beetroot purée and gratin dauphinoise – not as pink as we’d have liked, but still tender to the prod of a fork – and beef served with bone marrow displayed along the groove of a porcelain bone.
After a well-earned break, we were presented with a pre-dessert cheeseplate – you know, just in case we were still peckish. Selected by the waiter himself, there was a mixture of hard and soft varieties that went down beautifully with the velvety port selected by the sommelier. For our actual desserts, we decided to go out with a bang and ordered the milk chocolate parfait. While it was undoubtedly loaded with calories, it was surprisingly light and fluffy. The perfectly-matched dessert wine finished things off nicely. A heady end to a hedonistic meal.