Restaurant Review: The Italian Orchard, Broughton (Preston)

The Italian Orchard- Consistently Consistent

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
Review Summary

Atmosphere 10  Cost 7  Quality 8  Service 9

Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston
Bread & Olives
Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston
Oriental Tempura King Prawns
Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston
Garlic Bread
Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston
Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston
Risotto di Frutti di Mare
Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston
Spaghetti Bolognese
Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston
Mari e Monti
Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston
Fillets of Sea Bass
Italian Orchard Restaurant Review Preston
Salted Caramel & Black Cherry Ice Cream

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Orchard Broughton

Bar Review: Pollen Street Social, Mayfair

Pollen Street Social – A Real Buzz

Pollen Street Social is probably best known for its ‘Quail Brunch’, described in 2014 as ‘London’s Best Dish’, by Time Out magazine, although I was there for bourgeois booze only. I’ve admired Jason Atherton for a long time. Not only does he have sixteen restaurants worldwide, but he comes across as a thoroughly decent bloke.

Pollen Street Social describes itself as a: “Michelin-starred modern urban meeting point. A place to eat, drink and socialise, both for special occasions, and for informal everyday affairs.” To be fair that is exactly what it is, and jolly good it is too. The bar is long and narrow. Everything is spotless. The dark wooden shelves are back lit, and impressively filled. Drinkers have their backs to restaurant tables where diners spill over without partition.

Pollen Street Social provided what I call ‘a memorable moment’, a food and drink schema that’s etched in my mind. This one I filed away in my brain’s hard drive as ‘favourite cocktail ever’. Only an evil genius would have the audacity and creativity to combine: Riesling, Pisco, rhubarb vinegar, olive oil and egg white. The resilient frothy head confidently held the droplets of oil creating a uniquely beautiful texture. The sweet Riesling and sour Pisco were best buddies, with the rhubarb vinegar adding beads of magic. This drink was so special it would have been a crime only to order one.

I can’t decide whether or not I find truffles vile or delicious. AA Gill was spot on advising they: “teeter on the edge of being disgusting, but are actually fabulous”. I’m uncertain if it was bravery or campness that provoked a gamble on a truffle infused champagne number. This glass of bubbles was beauty and the beast in liquid form. For me the incredible pungent earthy aromas were overwhelming. This was a feminine option, for only the hardest drinkers.

In between shovelling endless salty vegetable crisps, I managed to request a Manhattan. It was promptly made to my specification (Rye+Sweet Vermouth). I can’t describe it any better than Esquire magazine: “It [was] bold and fortifying, yet as relaxing as a deep massage.” Not that I ever seriously considered them, but the Pollen Street Social Virgin Cocktails, where almost as interesting.

I would have liked to chew the fat with the charming staff all afternoon, but by this point my wallet was empty. Pollen Street Social was expensive, but an understated smart Mayfair space I’d recommend to anyone. Anyone who get’s paid too much.

Pollen Street Social
Review Summary

Atmosphere 9  Cost 4  Quality 10  Service 10

Pollen Street Social Review
The best drink since I can remember

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