When my friend purchased a Gilt City deal to Orchard House, I was slightly reluctant. I always wonder the thought process behind discounting the meals, especially after working with someone using Groupon often when their product wasn’t selling. For $54, the coupon offered a bottle of wine, 2 small plated and 2 entrees. How bad could the food really be?
As it turns out, the food is actually awesome. We started off with a wonderful bottle of Malbec, priced at $52, which already covered the cost of the entire meal without Gilt.
The restaurant was relatively empty on a Wednesday night, with the exception of an overly rambunctious birthday party. Our waitress was extremely kind in offering to relocate us, but our comfy booth was more appealing despite the loud noise.
Intentional graffiti marks up the entire front of the restaurant, with words in different sizes and fonts covering the walls. Towards the back, where we were seated, purple walls, mirrors and brightly colored pieces of art decorate the area. Orchard House tries to have an funky Lower East Side vibe, but unfortunately takes the decor far too walking the line between contemporary and tacky.
With our stomachs grumbling, we asked the waitress for recommendations for the small plates to start the meal. Ultimately we decided to order beef skewers and crab cakes to begin.
The skewers were wonderful, marinated in a teryaki-type sauce until the meat was tender. It had unexpected layers of flavors even before dipping into the unique basil sauce. The basil added a wonderful element if freshness and complexity to an otherwise, simply well cooked piece of meat.
Next, I tried the crab cake.
For the main courses, we ordered the eggplant Napoleon (I love anything eggplant) and half chicken.
The eggplant was easily my favorite dish of the night, and not just because of my love affair with the vegetable. The eggplant was sliced thick, coated in panko then fried to a golden brown color. It was cooked so the eggplant seemingly melted in your mouth, which initially caused me to think the ricotta had been stuffed in the eggplant. I didn’t realize the vegetable was capable of achieving such a creamy, silky texture. The sauces added a wonderful layer of dimension to the dish, while keeping the eggplant as the star. The overdressed pile of salad on the side seemed completely unnecessary and was easily neglected.
The chicken too was surprisingly delicious. I am not usually one to order chicken in constant fear of an overly dry, tasteless piece of meat. This poultry was moist and full of flavor. It came off the bone with ease. The side of potatoes acted as a creamy counterpart to the chicken. The tarragon sauce, added an additional element of spice to the dish, where it was desperately needed to balance an otherwise very heavy dish.
After eating our fill, we realized we had so many leftovers to take home. Ordering 2 small and 2 large plates was more then enough food.
Ultimately, it was a very delicious, nice surprise of a Wednesday night meal. I thoroughly enjoyed everything I ate, with the exception of the crab cakes. However, without a discount from Gilt City, I don’t know if I would have left feeling as happy or content. For the prices, I think there are far better spots on the Lower East Side to try and explore. Nothing about Orchard House was particularly new or exciting on the ever evolving New York food scene. It’s about 5 years too late.
Orchard House – 146 Orchard Street – New York, NY
Location: Lower East Side, NY
Type: New American
Perfect For: Big Groups, Date Night
Reservations: Accepted, Not Necessary via OpenTable
Favorite Dishes: Eggplant Napoleon, Beef Skewers