162 Orchard Street
I made two OpenTable (OT) reservations for my birthday - dinner at The Orchard and lunch at Eleven Madison Park. OT allows you to send a comment to the maitre d'/host(ess) when you make your reservation, so I, legitimately, wrote "I look forward to dining at your restaurant for my birthday" - a test to see if this made a difference to my dining experience. The short answer is yes, but as I'll discuss later, not at both restaurants.
But first the food.
We were intrigued by the flatbreads I've heard so much about and decided that we'd order the Robiola Cheese Flatbread with sauteed spinach, applewood smoked bacon, dried cranberries ($12). First impression - nice looking. Second impression, this is what $12 looks like? The dish was indeed tasty, with the only argument being its value and the fact that the spinach wasn't easy to navigate if you planned on taking two bites of each piece.I would never buy one of these again. The value is way off the mark. Charge $7 and I'd consider it.
We split two appetizers:
Grilled Filet Mignon Wrap butter lettuce, chimichurri pesto, spicy mayo ($15)
Crispy Lobster Empanadas cilantro-buttered corn cob bites ($14)
Again, both of these were really tasty. The lobster was well pronounced and the filet with or without the pesto and mayo (you added/dipped as you liked) was well seasoned. But the portions and price were off the mark...by a lot. The filet was worth $10, the empanadas about the same. I would be hard pressed to order any of these again strictly based on price.
Poached Halibut with crispy artichokes ($27). Slightly off-balanced dish. The fish was very flavorful and really kept the flavor of the fish well pronounced despite the over-saltiness of it. The artichokes, were however, underseasoned. Ugh. Very good - but could have been great.
Veal Osso Buco with a puree of some kind ($33). This was fantastic. Truly delicious and one of the best versions I've ever had. Finally, a dish worth its price tag. Everything worked on this dish. Could be a contender at the end of the year for best entree (though I recognize it is very early in the year).
Bread Pudding ($10)
Apple Tart ($10)
Both were good, both were served with a creme fraiche ice cream (not the best tasting nor the best texture). Both were large and only slightly over-priced - maybe not even. The bread pudding is a winner. We both agreed that we should've only ordered the bread pudding...being that we didn't come close to finishing either of them.
Well, the host was very nice and welcoming but never made mention of my birthday. Eleven Madison Park, on the other hand, wrote happy birthday on my dessert plate in chocolate. The manager, the server and our waiter all came over quietly and inconspicously to wish me a happy birthday separately. On the way out, a different waiter (one we didn't even have help us) quietly wished me a happy birthday as well.
The bus service was efficient for the most part but seemed to run around a bit too much.
Our waiter was a completely different story. He was awful. Barely acknowledged that we were there. Didn't provide any assistance nor a friendly word - or any word at that. I can't honestly recall anything he said, with exception to "Dessert?". What a jerk. He got the tip he deserved.
Otherwise, the wines were good too. I had a Stix shiraz (Australia) and a Chianti that I can't recall. Danna and I ended up switching wines, but we liked both of them.
The room is very warm and lovely despite the crappy area of Orchard Street it sits on. Nice glow to the room. A terrific space. And the food is generally very good. But I'd probably only go back for an entree and dessert...maybe even at the bar if that is possible (couldn't tell). For the neighborhood, the portions and the overall quality, it is a bit overpriced.