The Orchestra Restaurant & Cafe
Time Out Says
We shuffled our way through clouds of smoke to a compact and concrete, yet pleasant, outdoor terrace. It’s quieter than the busy indoor area and some greenery wouldn’t go amiss, but tranquility (thanks to a chilled soundtrack and trickling water) washed over us as we perused the menu of Arabian staples and coffees. This leisurely atmosphere seemed to affect the staff who, although attentive and polite, took their time before taking our order.
A shrimp cocktail starter, which looked deceptively pretty and plump, turned out to have been smothered in an oily pink sauce, while the seafood itself was of unpleasant consistency and overchilled temperature. The mixed sambousek, however, played a prettier tune; tasty triangles filled with juicy spinach, rich and creamy cheese, and succulent lamb.
We heard one of the main courses arrive before we saw it: a sizzling steak fajita accompanied by a platter of fried onions and a smattering of peppers. Although not Tex-Mex tasting in the slightest, the tender chargrilled meat was a treat, and a plate of rice, plenty of flour fajitas, sour cream, chunky guacamole and tangy salsa – all this for one person – was the only time the Orchestra reached a crescendo. The equally juicy and slightly spicy, if hardly astounding, chicken shish taouk was complemented by creamy yoghurt, flatbread and a generous salad – leaving hardly any room on the table for cutlery.
We didn’t think much of the cheesecake we selected from a huge range of gateaux; a thin layer of strawberry sauce – which looked like technicolour gelatine – sat atop a bland and stodgy substance. But the Neapolitan ice cream, with a sprinkling of pistachio, was a light and velvety pleasure. Ambience was restored until ‘Crazy Frog’ – quite a departure from the Mozart, Beethoven and Vivaldi promised by the café’s name – was blared from the outdoor speakers. We fled the scene in a hurry, but will make the return trip for the fajitas alone.
By Matthew Lee | 31 Oct 2005
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