I’m lucky to have visited The Italian Orchard Broughton at least thirty times; it’s seemingly been around since The Colosseum. The Italian Orchard Broughton conservatory is the best dining room in the Preston area: bathed in natural light and framed by cared for colourful flowers, it felt like Asti, not the A6. Not explicitly reserving a table there constitutes a culinary schoolboy error.
The Italian Orchard Broughton menu was overwhelming: the specials menu alone was heftier than your average àl la carte. The industrious kitchen must be huge to accommodate the expansive ingredients and cooking processes. I’d like to have seen a sense of Italian regionality rather than mass appeal. Similarly, The Italian Orchard Broughton wine list was equally vast, yet almost exclusively Italian to its credit. Drinks bordered the expensive side of reasonable, but its mid-price point swelled with a plethora of quaffable options. A notable sauvignon blanc was selected which offered attractive notes of sage and green pepper, as opposed to the usual passionfruit or gooseberry.
The bread and olives were fine and dandy but unremarkable given they’re Italian staples. The garlic bread was punchy, salty and comforting as ever. The oriental tempura king prawns were satisfyingly crispy, without suggesting they could ever be greasy. The calamari was lightly cooked to avoid becoming elastic but consequently lacked colour.
For mains, the mare e monti was an elegant combination of crayfish and prawns in a sophisticated creamy sauce. I rarely
plaice place mushrooms with seafood but see no reason not to now. The seafood risotto was generously portioned, providing both quantity and quality. Punctuated with a delicious variety of fresh fishy bits and pieces, including handsome wobbly scallops. The rice was formed with precision, with carefully seasoned stock and attractively served in a crab shell. This was the highlight of the evening and the Italian Orchard’s best value dish. The classic spaghetti bolognese had married together well, not disgracing its proud Italian roots, although I could have done without its cress haircut. The Sea Bass was a handsome white hunk, nicely seared, served next to some lovingly prepared baby potatoes and old-school chunky veg. Presentation is all plain white plates that do the job, but without finesse.
There was only room for a little gelato; those in the know opt for salted caramel and black cherry. Finally, the espresso was as robust as can be found anywhere.
Aside from the initially forgotten garlic bread, the Italian Orchard kitchen produced everything strikingly quickly and all on reassuringly hot plates. There was a never-ending flurry of young Italians zipping about in bright white shirts taking care of customers – none of whom laughed at anyone’s pathetic attempts at parlando Italiano. Likewise, I received a proper welcome and goodbye, and someone was always an (olive) stone’s throw away. I’d suggest, The Italian Orchard Broughton is a restaurant equally worth visiting for a simple pizza and glass of montepulciano to a more formal occasion, for those with appetites for hearty but not adventurous tastes.
The Italian Orchard
Atmosphere 10 Cost 7 Quality 8 Service 9