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Orris report

Jess | Dec 19, 2005 11:48 PM

I went to Orris tonight for the first, but definitely not the last, time. Unfortunately, I got taken away from the computer all afternoon, so I did not get to read the responses to my earlier post and we went mostly blind (except for some old recommendations I've read).

There were three of us and we were all very hungry. Everyone was a foodie and wanted to try a lot of things. As a result, we ordered way too much, but c'est la vie.

As people know, Orris specializes in small plates, which are mostly divvied into three or four pieces. That was perfect for us. We wound up ordering in three rounds.

Round One:

Albacore lettuce cups: This is a seared piece of albacore served inside a hard piece of lettuce (not endive, but a similar consistency) with tiny pieces of greens on top. It was very light and a nice way to start the dinner.

Grilled hearts of romaine: This was one of our favorite dishes. The romaine was not at all the consistency we expected. Instead of being completely mushy, it was charred and smokey. Parts were wilted, but other parts were crunchy. The dressing was nice, but not overpowering vinegary and it was served with shaved parmesan.

Shitake mushroom special: Probably the least interesting dish. This was a shitake mushroom cap with shrimp mouse (without much flavor) and avocado, which was then coated with tempura batter and deep fried. The mouse and avocado tasted a bit like quiche which was a decent contrast to the piece of mushroom on the bottom. Unfortunately, it did not have much taste and the sauce, which I expected to have ginger and vinegar, was equally tasteless. I do think our palates might have been affected by the surprisingly strong smokey flavor from the previous dish, and this dish might have been better if we had it before the grilled hearts of romaine.

Round Two:

Having done mostly vegetables in the first round, we decided to go for some stronger seafood in the second round.

Scallops sauteed with garlic butter sauce: The scallops were very good, though I think they should have been cooked for a tiny bit less. They weren't overcooked, but I prefer my scallops a little on the underdone side, especially if served in a sauce where they continue to cook a little. Despite that, the scallops were still good and the garlicky sauce was fantastic. If there was bread, I would have been sopping it up.

Crab cakes: These came recommended on the board and they were good. They have no filler and a nice crab flavor. I thought the mustard sauce served with the crab cakes was a little overpowering at first, but the second and third bites were better. I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed with the crab cakes, because I was at a party last week that had similar crab cakes that were among the best I've ever had. Orris' were good, but not as great as the ones I just had.

Round Three:

Now it was time for some meat.

Lamb carpacio with greens and shaved manchego cheese: This was excellent. The lamb was tender and flavorful, and the cheese and greens provided a great contrast. I did not expect this to be as light as it was, but it was not heavy at all. The lamb is served slightly warm. Really excellent.

Sweetbreads: I like sweetbreads, but I was a little disappointed with these. They were lightly fried and served with mushrooms and onions in a rather indistinguishable sauce. There really wasn't anything about them that stood out.

Filet Mignon skewer with Roquefort butter: Wow. The beef was so tender that we each let out a gasp when our forks sunk into the little cubes of filet mignon. I tried mine with the Roquefort butter, which came in a little cup on the side, and without. I preferred the beef without the sauce. Not that the sauce wasn't good. It was extremely flavorful, but very strong and I liked the taste of the beef alone. My friends, on the other hand, loved the beef with the sauce.

Dessert:

We weren't going to have any desserts, but wound up splitting two. The first was a flourless valrhona chocolate souffle cake with gelato (it comes with coffee gelato, but we substituted bourbon butter pecan). I loved the gelato, but the cake was a bit overpowering at first. It was a little too dense to be a souffle, but it had a strong cocoa flavor.

The second dessert was the apple tart with vanilla gelato and caramel sauce. I have to admit that I don't normally love apple tarts, but the pastry on this tart was amazing. It was crisp and buttery and incredibly flavorful. My only gripe was that there should have been more caramel sauce.

All of this food came to under $100 before tax. Between us, we had 4 glasses of wine (about $10 each) and one beer ($5). Total after tax for food and drinks was $145.

Service was excellent. Our server explained the menu and made suggestions, but didn't push us toward anything. The restaurant was not that crowded. We arrived early and it filled up, but there was nobody waiting outside as we left. We were not pressured to leave and were able to enjoy chatting after we finished. I could see that might be different if there was a crowd waiting to get in. I guess I'll find out when I go back.

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