Image from Concrete Playground
As you picked up from the post of all my noms last week, I made a trip to Tom Hishon’s haunt, Orphans Kitchen. To be completely honest, I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the food was tasty, the service was great, the place was buzzing, but the thing was, my expectations were high. Seriously high. Like Burj Khalifa high.
Having been on this sugar free detox for the last four and a half weeks (yes I made it four and a half weeks*), it has been tough for us (the boy and myself) to eat out. Or at least we thought it would be, and not wanting to be “those” people in a nice restaurant, we had largely avoided it. So this place was not only at the tipy top of our restaurants to try list, but it was also breaking our (read: the boy’s) long slog in the kitchen.
It’s a little hard to spot, and with a gammy front door that almost had us walking away, you can tell this is the hip place to be by how damn difficult it is to actually get inside.
Once perched at our table we went straight for it and just ordered a large pile of mains (to share).
First to the table was their homemade flax-seed sourdough with burnt butter. I love that “burnt” has become cool. “Burnt” used to be bad. But this, my friends, was the furthest from bad anything has even been. It smelt like caramel and even had a distant tinge of sugary taste (or maybe my tongue was hallucinating). We demolished it. So fast, in fact, the waitress commented (saying something like “I am glad you enjoyed it so much”, where as you know what she wanted to do was jump up and down on the bleach wood bench pointing and yelling “fatty, fatty, fatty”).
We had requested all our dishes to come at once. And come they did. In hindsight we probably should have staggered them a little, just so we could actually fit our knives and forks on the table! What arrived was a brussel sprout salad with goats curd and baby beets, friend rye gnocchi with parmesan, sage, hazelnuts and a poached egg, kumera chips with sour cream and the ‘Boil Up’ of boiled boar, dough dumplings and sweet potato.
It was a fantastic feast and, despite our best efforts to savor each mouthful, we (much like the bread) wolfed it down. My top pick was the gnocchi. I mean what crazy person doesn’t like gnocchi anyway? Now try it fried! Yeah I thought so. The thing that stood out in every dish was simplicity. These flavours weren’t big, and they weren’t meant to be. The delicate dots of curd through the brussel sprout salad was enough to have me diving in for more and the subtle sweetness of the kumera in the boil up gravy got the boy so hooked he literally drank from the bowl (you can’t take him anywhere).
Now, it doesn’t sound too much like I was disappointed does it? Maybe more what I mean is that I had a dream in my head, and it was that I was going to go out and be blown away. But Orphans Kitchen is a small, unrefined, rough at the edges eatery that serves up neat little flavours in a gorgeous (and surprisingly unpretentious) way. Those kind of places just don’t have you screaming from the hill tops. They have you wandering back to your car think hmmm that was pleasant. Which is what we did.
Also, I think in a small way, it is a testament to the boy. He is an incredible cook. And although he is too modest to admit it, I am served up dish after dish of amazing food right at home. Any restaurant we go to would have a seriously hard time beating some of the creations that he can whip up on a random weekday night in our tiny kitchen (with a mere two hobs).
So, no, Orphan’s Kitchen didn’t get me jumping with joy, but I would definitely go back nce my detox is over. Man, that banoffie pie sounded good. (Maybe this review would be different if I actually had hoped off my bar stool and stealthy swiped the dessert off the lady in front of me. But she looked like she would’ve won in a fistfight.)
*Although last night I made a cake for the boys mum, a spiced sponge cake with vanilla meringue icing and I did lick the icing spoon. Twice. But THAT WAS IT. The boy then stole the bowl from me and poured water in it. And I am glad he did because although my eyes said “I could punch you right now” my heart said “thank you for saving me”. That, my friends, is what a real knight in shining armour looks like.