Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: Orchids at Palm Court

You know you're in for five-star service and a real treat when the hostess is matching the napkins to your outfit! Not a joke - this really happened! Last week I went to Orchids at Palm Court for Downtown Restaurant Week, and there were white napkins on the table when my friend Lauren and I sat down. Lauren was wearing a navy blue and black skirt and I had on dark jeans. The hostess literally switched out the white napkins for black napkins so we wouldn't get remnants from the white napkins on our outfits! Now that is what I call service!

Of all the restaurants downtown, Lauren and I picked Orchids because it seemed like such a great deal for restaurant week and we've both been wanting to try it for a while, especially after hearing that the chef, Todd Kelly, was recently named the Best Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation. Not everyone has the "best chef" right in their backyard! Gotta take advantage - especially when it's a 3 course meal for $35! 

After ordering our three courses from the impressive Restaurant Week menu, we were soon presented with an amouse bouche (a bite-sized hors d'oevres from the chef). Not only was the presentation of the teeny tiny truffle custard amazing, the taste was out of this world. Truly the best thing I've ever eaten! I could go on that Food Network show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate".  They took the top of an egg off, and made a truffle custard right inside the egg. It was topped with creme fraiche, dried corn and chives and was the most decadent, amazing thing ever. The crunchiness and sweetness of the dried corn was perfect with the rich truffle custard and texturally made for the perfect bite. It was served with the cutest little demitasse spoon. What a great way to start off a great meal!

Next we got the slow cooked, sous vide tuna tonnato. This means the sushi-grade tuna was prepared in a vacuum sealed bag in a low temperature water bath for a long period of time so the outside is the same "doneness" as the inside. The tuna was seasoned with oregano before being sous vide, which was absolutely delicious. It was then combined with hericot vert and kalamata olives and served over a tuna mousse. The plate was drizzled with parsley oil and topped with frisee and crispy garlic chips. Makes me hungry just thinking about it! It was so delicious. I have never had anything that's been sous vide, but I've seen it on Top Chef many times. :) The combination of flavors was amazing and was like a present in my mouth after every bite.  And look how pretty the presentation was....

For our entrees, we both chose to get the pork cheeks. These were braised in white wine and chicken broth (and I think lemon) and they melted in your mouth like butter. They crumbled apart when you simply touched them with the tip of your fork. The pork cheeks were served with chanterelle mushrooms, tomato config and ricotta dumplings. The ricotta dumplings were the only thing from the entire meal that I was unimpressed with. They were dry and uninteresting. Lauren suggested sprinkling salt over them, which did help a little but texturally they were still dry and "floury". The rest of the entree was amazing. I was tempted to lick the plate to get every last drop of the braising liquid, which I'm sure Lauren's thankful I resisted the urge. Somehow I don't think that would have gone over well at Orchid's. ;) 

Last but not least was the dessert. There were two options on the Restaurant Week menu - Brown Butter Cake and Malted Chocolate Bavarian. Shockingly, I chose the brown butter cake. I almost always go with anything chocolate, but the brown butter cake sounded good to me - and I was right. It was perfectly moist and came with bourbon blackberries and a homemade cinnamon toast ice cream - that actually had chunks of crispy cinnamon toast in it. Yummm!

Lauren chose the Malted Chocolate Bavarian, which was three different desserts - roasted bananas, peanut streusel and the chocolate bavarian cake with dolce de leche across the plate. Minus the bananas (I'm not really a fan of fruit for dessert), the othe items were delicious - particularly the peanut streusel! I would have liked an entire order of that.

I started out this blog post by mentioning the amazing service, and I want to end on that note too...because it truly was worth mentioning twice. With every course we were served, there were two waiters - one on either side of us. They simultaneously set our covered plates down on the table, and with a quick and discreet nod to each other across the table, they lifted the plate covers off at the exact same time to "wow" us with the food presentation waiting underneath. Remarkable! Such a simple thing, but it made quite an impact. Lauren and I were certainly impressed, and we heard other tables comment on it as well.

Overall, this was truly one of the best dining experiences I've had. Both the food and the service were impeccable. I'd highly recommend Orchid's for the next time you want to splurge (at least it's a splurge for me) and treat yourself to a wonderful meal in a beautiful setting with outstanding service. And an added bonus - they have free valet parking!!

~ Kris

Food: 5
Service: 5
Overall: 5

Orchids at Palm Court on Urbanspoon

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