- Location: Orzo, 27 Wellington Street, London, WC2E 7DB (nearest tube station is Covent Garden)
- Date of Visit: Wednesday 23rd January 2013
- Time of Table: 7.00pm
- Deal Bought From: Groupon
- Deal Price: £29 for Two
- Dinner Companion: Twin sister, Jess
Getting More for your Money?
This dinner deal includes:
- Main Course
- For Two people
What we ate…
- Starter: Chunky Vegetable Soup
- Main: Slow Roast Crispy Pork with Sage Potatoes and Apple Sauce
- Dessert: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone
- Starter: Pear, Walnut and Watercress Salad with Gorgonzola
- Main: Slow Roast Crispy Pork with Sage Potatoes and Apple Sauce
- Dessert: Panna Cotta with Marinated Plums
What we drank…
- Bellini each
- Glass of Prosecco each (not included)
- Cappuccino each (not included)
What did we think?
Walking around the warren that is Covent Garden, my gaze was constantly averted by the sheer abundance of delicious eateries. Impressive glass faced restaurants gave a tempting tease of a glimpse into stylish interiors far beyond my meagre purse strings, whilst decadent patisseries invitingly flashed their sweet smelling wares, overburdened with fruits, chocolate and cream. My excitement was building and my hopes were high for fashionable Italian restaurant Orzo – our dinner destination for this evening. Almost every venue in the quaint cobbled streets seemed to be a restaurant of some sort, with plenty of competition for Italian grub in the form of numerous Bella Italias and Stradas to name a few.
Firstly Orzo surprised me by not having the same ostentatious awning and massive glass front, but to be honest I rather liked its understated and sophisticated greeting. Going through the glass doors and descending down a small flight of stairs, the restaurant seemed to be situated in the basement of the building, giving an incredibly intimate atmosphere, as if it was London’s little secret.
I instantly loved the décor – so stylish yet not over the top with peach painted walls, covered in small black and white portrait photographs housed snugly in black wooden frames. Each photo was of a difference person, in a different situation and time, offering intrigue in abundance. The black stood our marvellously against the pale walls, which was mirrored in the peachy toned marble flooring. Impressively painted landscapes formed blinds for spaces that I assumed were some kind of windows. The layout was also ideal – we felt completely alone, the tables really nicely spread out so you honestly felt as if you were in your own little bubble. Simplistic chic returned again with the table set up, a stark and crisp white tablecloth with a flickering tea light candle in a clouded glass holder. The various glasses were a fantastic mix of shapes, with your classic wine glass, our long and slim-lined Bellini glasses and also the water glasses – round and stubby sitting on a short stem.
With excellent first impressions of the surroundings, I was eager to get stuck into the menu. This deal was a great bargain in my book as we were able to tuck in to an entire three courses. We kicked things off with our Bellini cocktail, a fabulous mix of refreshingly soft peachy undertones, lightened by the bubbles and fizz of Champagne. Can’t go wrong with a Bellini! If you are a fussy eater, then I think you may have experienced trouble with the special ‘Groupon menu’, and I must confess, I was a little worried at first. The options for starters included a pear and gorgonzola salad, which Jess instantly zoomed in on, loving anything with blue cheese. Being the opposite however I steered clear of that, and with mussels on the menu as well when I dislike seafood, that only left me one viable option for starters – the soup. I had everything crossed I would like the flavour, and when I was told it was chunky vegetable, I was relieved.
While we waited for our starters to arrive, we dutifully munched on the bread basket that we were given, that included thick slices of white crusty bread, ideal for dunking in the small dish of oil provided. I made sure to keep a few pieces to have with my soup. I know that many soups can just be so boring and lack taste, but this soup completely blew my mind – which is very rare to say about vegetable soup! There were so many vegetables in it, I could taste cabbage, celery, carrots, some kind of beans and probably loads more, to reveal a really flavourful and wholesome kick that oozed personality. It was so chunky, the vegetables still visible and floating in a broth like liquid. Served with thick, toast like croutons on top that was more similar to bread, it was a hearty start and I absolutely loved it. I couldn’t believe how full of flavour it was. Jess also enjoyed her dainty salad, although from where I was, I couldn’t really spot her beloved gorgonzola.
Mains again left me with just one viable option out of three choices. Another gorgonzola dish, this time pasta was offered as well as salmon – more seafood – but I was more than happy with the remaining option, delicious crispy pork, which is probably something I would have picked off their full menu anyway. The pork arrived in unique diamond shapes, a thick layer of crispy bubbling brown skin that cracked delightfully under your fork on top of soft, juicy flaking meat underneath. The blob of apple sauce was a perfect partner in crime for the multi-textured meat, as was the ideally cooked sage potatoes. The pork really was cooked divinely, the meat so soft and cut like butter, although the crispy topping was harder to tackle. It was a great explosion of flavour and texture in your mouth. The portion size was also really decent for both our starters and mains. My bowl of soup was huge, and for our mains we had two big chunks of the pork, accompanied by the pile of potatoes.
Once we had drained our Bellini’s, instead of opting for our usual wine, we decided to treat ourselves to a luxurious glass of Prosecco, which was actually cheaper by the glass than the rose – the ideal excuse in our minds! Beautifully light and sparking, it was a zingy and refreshing accompaniment to our main meal that was so full of flavour and a fabulous light meaty taste.
Dessert had us stumped between two options. We both love our chocolate, so the chocolate cake sounded wonderful, especially with the creamy mascarpone. However, plums are also one of my favourite fruits and I loved the idea of them, all tart and juicy with the gooey, wobbly panna cotta. In the end, we decided to get one of each and simply share them both, which turned out to be a brilliant idea. The chocolate cake was a flourless one, so it came up incredibly rich and dense in a thick triangle that really reminded me of a brownie. It had that same slight crisp to the top, yet that soft mud like texture to the actual cake. Powerful chocolate flavours that worked wonders with the light mascarpone. We even tried the cake with mouthfuls of the panna cotta which was also really delicious! The panna cotta had delicate undertones of vanilla and although it is normally considered a rather bland option, the plums packed a punch that invested the dish in purple juices and flavour. I adored my chocolate cake, and I have to admit to scoffing it down in hurried gleeful spoonfuls.
After our dessert had settled, we decided to conclude with a coffee – traditional Italian style – with a frothy cappuccino. Served in a small patterned cup and saucer, it really was rather dinky and not too big to push us over the ‘stuffed / bloated’ line. We were comfortable, full, and so impressed by the food.
Making a second reservation? Most definitely, and I would even go there without a voucher. There is already a pizza I am eyeing up on the full menu. Not only is the food flavourful and completely exceptional, but the attention to detail is superb. I absolutely loved the quirky and eccentric mix of plates and bowls they used that seemed to clash endearingly with the chic décor. The plates were all different, with various floral and food patterns of blue, red and yellow in classic hand painted style. It was this eccentricity matched with the impeccable service from the waiting staff and the quality of the food and ambiance that really made me fall in love with Orzo, this little den of loveliness hidden underground.
The deal that we bought from Groupon, was also fantastic. Three whole courses plus a Bellini for just £29 is a steal. The pork dish alone on the main menu was nearer £20 each. We paid an additional £19 for our two Proseccos and cappuccinos which makes a very respectable price for what we had. The service charge was a bit steep at £13, so we took that off and paid a service charge that we could afford. Something to bear in mind though is that we did have to choose from a set menu for our meal, and with only three choices per course it was very narrow. We were just lucky that there was at least one thing we liked from each course so that we could still enjoy the meal. Definitely something to look out for, for the fussier eaters.
I really recommend this patch of little Italy, and I can’t wait to return.
The Dinner Dates Opinion:
“Going to Orzo made a lovely evening. I found the staff to be very friendly and welcoming and I really liked that the tables were well spaced! So many places in London feel so cramped so this was really nice. We had a table for four for the two of us which was nice and roomy! The bellini we had was a fruity peachy number, the only downside being that we then couldn’t find it on the cocktail menu to order another one! For starters I had a salad with the classic combo of walnut, pear and blue cheese. The cheese was more of a dressing as opposed to chunks, think I would have preferred more cheese but it was a lovely starter. For mains, we had some of the best pork I’ve ever had! The meat was so juicy and the crackling was so crispy, it was just a delight. The accompanying sauce and potatoes went very well with it. For dessert I had the panna cotta which was lovely and creamy and the plums opposed this nicely. The deal menu only had about 3 options per course so was quite limited but what they did offer was lovely. I would like to go again without a deal so that I could try some of the other things on the menu, but would probably only be able to afford a pizza/pasta since these were the cheapest mains, some of the larger meat/fish dishes charging nearly £20 for a main (I am a student!). Also being in Covent Garden means that it is accessible if you are out and about in London and there would be loads of places to go to after or to continue shopping after lunch.”