- Location: 134-620 10 Ave. SW, Calgary
- Phone: 403-243-2392 (text only)
- Website: https://orchardyyc.com/
- Price: $9-$39
- Cuisine: Mediterranean with Asian accents.
- Atmosphere: Regal, airy and lush.
- Drinks on offer: Wine, beer, cocktails
- Best bets: Broccoli, shishito peppers, rabbit tagliatelle, white chocolate tiramisu, Ferrero Rocher chocolate cake.
- Vegetarian friendly? Yes.
- Additional information: Pickup and delivery is scheduled for certain times and must be booked through the online reservation platform Tock.
There was quite a splash in Calgary’s food scene when this striking restaurant in the base of Residence Inn by Marriott unveiled itself in early October. The buzzworthy nature of Orchard Restaurant’s opening was two part.
First, nothing of note had opened for months in the city and diners here were stir crazy for something new. Because of that, Orchard has become one of the most talked about eateries in the province.
The second thing that captured attention is the fact that the restaurant’s interior is unlike any other in the city. Twenty- foot-tall ceilings lay the way for a dramatic smattering of ornate chandeliers throughout the space interspaced with hanging tropical plants. Combine that with chartreuse crushed-velvet banquets, a psychedelic tiled bar and a (charmingly unfinished?) accent wall of wooden beams, plants and wine bottles and you’ve got a dining room that was born to be Instagram and TikTok famous.
It’s easy to get lost in the room while seated. Looking around, snapping photos of this and that, one almost forgets to look at the menu.
Luckily for Orchard, its chef and part-owner Jenny Kang is known to be a formidable talent and helps draw your attention back to where it should be at lunch or dinner: your own plate.
Almost as distinct visually as the room itself is her take on roasted broccoli. Just charred thick-cut chunks of broccoli florets come atop a tangy beet yogurt, crumbled feta and finished with a sumac-heavy za’atar.
Having ordered this dish both in the restaurant and at home, I can say it is just as well presented and enjoyable in takeout format.
A take on panzanella sees a combination of radish, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, grapes, fennel and toasted chunks of sourdough in a umami-ridden soy dressing. A little heavy handed with the dressing of the salad, this was a tad soggy and hard to finish. It seems this dish has since left the menu.
The cheese-stuffed garlic bread has become an instant signature here and is the most common menu item you’ll see shared on social feeds by diners. Being a regular victim to peer pressure via social media, I would be remiss not to try it.
Being a fan of all things ridiculously cheesy and garlicky (who isn’t?), my friend and I had a lukewarm reaction to the hollowed-out kaiser bun stuffed with whipped cream cheese and finished with minced herbs and shaved grana padano. If you’re expecting something ooey-gooey, such as the popular cheese curd-stuffed garlic bread found down the road at Bridgette Bar, this is not comparable ... and more expensive.
On a rare day during the pandemic when I don’t deem it appropriate to drink during lunch – truly a rarity – I opted for one of Orchard’s zero-proof cocktails, the Dovetail. The combination of blackcurrant, mint, lime and soda, slightly sweetened with maple syrup, made me think back to the dog days of summer.
I had planned to return to Orchard for a full dinner earlier this week, but the province ordered restaurants to shut down this weekend as part of its COVID-19 restrictions, so an extensive takeout order felt more applicable given the type of service they’ll be offering until at least the second week of January, 2021.
My worries about how Ms. Kang’s fairly upscale Mediterranean-inspired cuisine would travel were set at ease once unboxing at home.
Orchard offers its takeout and delivery via the newer online reservation platform Tock – a system that many restaurateurs are opting for these days instead of OpenTable, which typically charges business owners excessive fees.
This means that the restaurant times out when orders can be processed and picked up or sent out throughout the evening. Hypothetically, this would mean that many orders would be placed before peak evening times and the kitchen can better map out what it will be cooking and packaging throughout the night.
To say I was extremely impressed with the quality of takeout from Orchard is an understatement. Well-assembled and surprisingly hot upon arrival, this is certainly not the norm when it comes to takeout.
The crispy rice-coated tiger prawns were, in fact, still crispy and even more appealing once dunked into the accompanying bright lemon aioli. Perhaps not a finger food, but treated as such anyway were the eternally golden and crunchy slabs of potato “mille feuille” served with garlic crème fraîche and whisps of grana padano. One more piece per order would offer more perceived value for this potato dish ($12), but regardless, this clever take on pave is a must-order.
Rabbit tagliatelle hits the spot as the temperature starts to dip on a late fall night. The rich mushroom cream sauce studded with pieces of braised rabbit meat is comforting and my favourite of the night.
Arguably one of the most transportable desserts around, Ms. Kang’s take on tiramisu sees the addition of white chocolate for a taste-bud piquing, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it quality. This was spooned away quite quickly.
Clearly the chef has a knack for desserts as her cake interpretation of Ferrero Rocher chocolate is a true showstopper. Cracking through the shell of milk chocolate and minced hazelnuts topped with a white chocolate namelaka and meringue reveals a luscious chocolate ganache and hazelnut Bavarian cream.
This is the dish that should be Instagram famous.
Plan your weekend with our Good Taste newsletter, offering wine advice and reviews, recipes, restaurant news and more. Sign up today.