Brockley is a pretty popular area these days – cited by many as a case in point of the gentrification of London. And certainly, I’m not the first of my friends to move into the area. And one thing they all consistently raved about is The Orchard. It’s many things to many people – during the day, it’s a favourite haunt of yummy mummies with their enormous pushchairs; in the evening it’s a noisy dinner venue serving a seasonal menu, and on Sundays it plays host to a traditional Sunday roast and pub quiz.
The Orchard is one of my locals now, and I’ve been there for brunch, lunch and dinner (twice), and tried my hand at the quiz (we came in the mediocre middle – but there will be plenty of opportunities to redeem ourselves at future visits, I’m sure). The food has always been exceptionally good, and not horrendously expensive.
Their weekend brunch is my favourite kind – it runs from breakfast time all the way through til 4pm, so if you don’t feel like getting out of bed early for your eggs you don’t have to. They make a mean eggs florentine, with perfectly runny poached eggs. As well as their breakfast offerings, for lunch they lay on an array of burgers and steaks or lighter dishes – I can recommend the chorizo burger.
Roasted Icelandic cod, panelle, grilled aubergine, red pepper relish, lovage and rocket sauce
Dinner is a more sumptuous and experimental affair. On my first visit, I had roasted cod with panelle (which is a bit like polenta). I’m a big fan of polenta, and now I’m also a big fan of panelle – I’ll be looking out for it in the future. My dining companion had the beef short rib, and I’m informed that was also really good.
Pot roasted beef short rib, confit Portobello mushrooms, smoked onion broth, toasted buckwheat and potato mash
My second visit was in a big group. We were seated at the large table in the middle of the main room of the restaurant where you’re constantly in a draft from the front door, but such is life. To start, I had a tuna tartare dish, and then for main the slow roasted harissa glazed aubergine with chickpeas and spinach. Not eating meat during lent has really opened my eyes as to how interesting and delicious vegetables can be, and here they really nail it.
Slow roasted harissa glazed aubergine, chickpeas and spinach, peanut, coriander and chilli dressing
Between us I think we sampled pretty much the whole menu, but (not wanting to be that obnoxious person at the table taking pictures of everyone’s food…) I can’t remember exactly what was on the menu that night. I know my brother had the stuffed breast and confit leg of guinea fowl – I was impressed as he’s usually not one for adventurous dining, but he said it was very tasty. Full marks all round, then.
Stuffed breast and confit leg of guinea fowl, wild cabbage and beluga lentil samosas with peppercorn sauce
I feel very lucky indeed to have such a reliable, interesting and all round pleasant venue so close by. I expect I’ll become a regular in no time!