Bad Apples at The Orchard-long
I took my boyfriend to The Orchard for his birthday this past Friday evening after reading raves from fellow Hounders and friends then confirming those reviews. All I can say is....
We arrived at 7pm and it was stiffling hot. The hostess was very sweet and promptly turned on the air. We ordered some of their flatbreads which absolutely deserved all they praise they've received.
I followed my mushroom flatbread (delish) w/ tuna tartare. It looked as if someone had taken a masher to the tuna; it was mushed and creamy and altogether unappealing. It was served w/ some over cilantro'd guac and not at all yummy plaintain chips that were too thickly cut for their intended use.
BF had the crispy lobster empanadas. They looked like mini corn dogs which could be cute were they not overly battered and served w/ (sensing a theme) over cilantro'd corn. Little too much yellow on one plate for me.
For my main, I chose the butternut squash agnolotti. It was so sweet, it shocked me. I couldn't finish it and there were only about six agnolotti on the plate. A stuffed pasta is usually somewhat soft but this was like baby food. Unfortunately, I wasn't wearing a bib. The flavors were unbalanced and unpalatable.
Though we both had room for dessert, we passed. The meal had been such a disappointed, we opted to pick some ice cream up on the way home.
After paying our bill and leaving a 25% tip we were finishing up the last of our wine, when the manager approached us and asked us if we would please finish up at their "beautiful bar". W/ a number of tables around us empty, I was offended at this breach of restaurant etiquette. Especially since we hadn't been there for 2 hours and there didn't appear to be anyone waiting for our table.
Our waiter was attentive and affable. The other staff was too eager to take away our plates-my bf had to say no twice to having his plate cleared away.
Maybe an off night? I don't know. I just know there are far too many restaurants in this city for me to give them a second chance.
I have not experienced the service issues you describe, but I would say that the food there has been hit and miss in the most recent times I have dined there (I have been probably 6-7 times over the past year). The mushroom flatbread, for example, has lately been using canned mushrooms as opposed to the original hen of the woods variety they started with.
I do think you ordered some of the worst dishes - the agnolotti is not my favorite, but they do excellent things with lamb (though I have had it there 3 different ways, and 1 was exceptional, 1 was good, and 1 was mediocre). I am a big fan of the tartare and would say it is one of the more consistent things. I am not sure I have had the lobster empanadas, but honestly, that kind of dish almost always sounds like a bad idea to me (but if you serve it, you should serve it right).
Now that it's no longer BYOB, I'm not sure how quickly I'll rush back to the Orchard, as that was a big draw for me as a way to use the wine I was getting delivered from vineyards' wine clubs. It is a welcoming, lively place with (in my experience) good to very good, affable service and a varied menu that will, at times, disappoint.
In sum, it's definitely not as good as it was when Bruni reviewed it, or before that when it first opened.
I felt the same way after we dined there about a month ago!
I had the lobster empanadas. They were good, nothing spectacular though. And I found the corn that came with it was pretty boring. I think I even left the last piece over.
I also had the butternut squash agnolotti and felt the same way you did. Way too sweet. I've had the same (or very similar) dish at al di la in Park Slope and it's fabulous there. I guess I was expecting this to be at least almost as good. I also left some of this over.
My BF had one of the flatbreads. It was very good but I felt there was so much on it you could barely taste the bread or get the texture. He also had the paella which I didn't try.
For dessert we shared the churros. To be honest since they're already coated in sugar and cinnamon they really didn't need the dipping sauces. The whole thing was way too sweet. To top it off they served it with a dollop of whipped cream that they had also added way too much sugar to and beaten until it was almost butter.
Overall I don't know that I'd go back. I think our total was around $120 without alcohol.
I wouldn't say it was bad, it just didn't live up to the hype it gets on this board.
There are too many other places to try fo me to rush back.
I love al di la but it's a different kind of restaurant. Less trendy (in that LES hipster way), but very popular.
I'm always surprised to hear the Orchard described as Italian. Maybe Italian/Spanish?
I'm completely shocked that all of you had such a bad experience. I was there last Thursday night and had a wonderful meal. Our server was fantastic--which I think greatly contributed to the success of the meal. He steered us away from the crispy lobster empanadas, and teh churros. He recommended teh mushroom flatbread, which was delicious. He also recommended the agnolotti, which while sweet, weren't overly so and completely melted in our mouths. He also recommended the lamb, which was truly outstanding. I won't recommend Orchard as heartily as I had before, given the inconsistency that other diners have experienced, but I will definitely give it another try.
I'm wondering what happened with the tuna tatare. It was a real winner when I was there about a month ago. Sorry for Olivia's disappointing meal, though.
Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience at The Orchard. My friends and I went on a recent Saturday night and had a brilliantly good time. We lingered at our table for 2+ hours and never felt rushed.
We shared several dishes. The favorites in order of preference were the lamb, paella, tuna tartare, and mushroom flatbread. We also had the lobster empanadas; it wasn't a stand out, but at this point, our table had already shared 3 appetizers, so by the time we got to the empanadas, it wasn't very memorable. I would also say it's a waste of lobster to be fried up in an empanada (but otherwise, I do love empanadas!)
Also, we shared 4 desserts, one of them being the churros. They were all great in my opinion, but that's because we had 4 desserts to taste and share, making for a happy dessert feast.
Overall, my out of town friends were very happy with my dinner choice. I can see, though, that NYC dining experiences are unique to different individuals. Much like seeing a different performance each night of a theatre show. I hope, though, that when I go to The Orchard again, it will be a repeat performance for me, as opposed the experience you were left with.