© Rob Greig
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Thu Mar 8 2012
Sicilian Avenue is that traffic-free, angled Edwardian shopping parade near Holborn tube – the one that, despite grand architecture, offers little for inspiration other than heel bars, hair salons and sandwich shops. Many caffs have come and gone on this sorry little parade, none of them destination eateries – until now.
Orchard is a spin-off from Vanilla Black, the accomplished and upmarket vegetarian restaurant near Chancery Lane. Vanilla Black’s not for everyone, but the cooking’s very accomplished and adventurous, with beautiful attention to detail.
Orchard’s more casual, cheaper, more everyday, and the food’s less show-off than its big sister. The interior’s been decorated in a homely style, from the mismatched crockery to the vintage recipe cards pinned to the walls. Big wicker baskets of vegetables used as the window display, evoking a small town café on market day.
Despite the retro look, the quality of the cooking is far superior to the Crispy Pancake years. A counter near the entrance displays the day’s sandwiches, salads, and cakes such as ‘parsnip loaf with Horlicks icing’. The orange-flavoured madeleines can be served as a breakfast dish, with warm chocolate sauce.
A ‘mug of soup with a sarnie’ had freshly-fried croûtons and chive oil garnishing the leek and potato soup; the sandwich bread was wholemeal and well-textured, filled with sharp cheddar, chunky chutney, and the red shock and crunch of baby beetroot leaves.
A ‘savoy cabbage pudding’ used the textured leaf to provide a pretty wrap for the cheddar-laced centre; the accompanying heritage potatoes were blue spuds, and a slick of creamed celeriac and a red wine reduction made a good-looking main course.
The puddings are even more impressive. The innocent-sounding ‘golden syrup pudding’ was a neat tower, garnished with blobs of ‘burnt’ satsuma and whipped cream which had a whiff of cinnamon. Another winner was the Russett apple tart with butterscotch sauce.
When compared to India, the Far East, Turkey, even Lebanon or the Horn of Africa, Britain has no strong tradition of sophisticated vegetarian cooking. It’s a very pleasant surprise to find an excellent vegetarian café that draws on the traditions and ingredients of our own part of the world with such delicious results.
Orchard 11 Sicilian Avenue
020 7831 2715
- Opening hours:
Meals served 8am-7.30pm Mon-Fri; 9.30am-6.30pm Sat
Tube: Holborn tube
Main courses £4.95-£9.95. Meal for two with drinks and service: around £30
- 11 Sicilian Avenue
- 020 7831 2715
- 11 Sicilian Avenue
Food and drink
Restaurant and bar facilities. Take away. Lunch. Bookings not accepted. Outdoor facilities. Tables outdoors
Meal times. Best for lunch