Update: End of 2010: The Orange Room has closed permanently. Boo!
Will, Briana, and I found ourselves with some toddler free time this past weekend, and after mistakenly planning to hit up Perogy Night (it’s this coming Friday, people!) we ended up at The Orange Room. This simple place has been described as “the closest thing New Westminster has to hip” and has also played host to one of our tweet-ups, prompting Haiku Empress and guest poster Marcy Koopmans to refer to our gathering at the Orange Room as the “least awkward meet up of mostly total strangers that I’ve ever been to.”
Last May, Briana also posted her review shortly after new owners took over and resurrected the Room, and while there were a few growing pains to be worked out such as supply issues and slow (yet pleasant) service, the general consensus here at Tenth among the contributors and the readers is that the Orange Room is probably among the top 5 restaurants this city has to offer. Personally, any restaurant that goes out of its way to source local food gets points in my book, just for trying.
So with no toddlers in tow, and only baby Nora (aka: the blob) listening in, we three headed to have some adult dinner conversation, and, dare I say it, an impromptu 3/4 Tenth to the Fraser Editorial Team meeting. We were seated at our selection of tables, a choice I really like being offered rather than simply being led to whatever table balanced out the servers’ plates. For a Friday night at 6:30pm, I was a little bit unsettled at the few tables that were filled, but during the course of our meal, the place filled out – apparently New West eats late. Menus were presented and drink orders taken -a bottle of house red -Vodawine – a peppery and berry noted red blend, $25.
All three of us were impressed that management had decided to tweak the menu after a six month stint back in business, promoting “classic European Fine Cuisine” by Executive Chef Randie Guest. While I was all for the tapas style menu previously offered, and happily cobbled together meals selecting a variety of tapas, some items simply didn’t go together, and there were duplications (for example, bread with the cheese plate and also bread with the spinach salad meant a bread overload and as much as I love carbs, one can only eat so much). The previous menu also had a few items that I never tried because their entree-sized prices didn’t compute on an appetizer sized dish. However, the addition of actual entree sized offerings on the new menu, including a few pasta and steak options, prompted the three of us to decide to go big or go home.
Briana and I are fans of splitting dishes – meal math says that if you split what you are eating with another person, you have the opportunity to try twice as many items. We settled on two appies to share.
The organic Chorizo Sausage on Crispy Potato Nuggets, $6, was an item leftover from the first menu incarnation and I’m glad it stayed. Spicy but not in-your-face-hot sausage slices on a bed of cripsy bite sized potato nuggets complemented with an amazing ketchup dip that all of us agreed went with more than the dish it came with. It was so good, in fact,we used it with the Almond Baked Camembert, Baby Spinach and Organic Artisan French Baguette, $13. A full camembert wheel, crusted and baked to ooey gooey perfection, paired with delightful delicate baby spinach with some sort of light and zesty dressing and a dish of fresh salsa. Our only complaint was that we weren’t given enough baguette to slather the Camembert onto, and we ended up forking globs of cheese directly into our mouths after dipping them in the yummy spicy ketchup of the potato nuggets (not always a bad thing).
While both of us would normally shy away from ordering pasta at restaurants (a person can make a nice pasta at home so why go out and pay for it?), we were both drawn to the Neptune Seafood Fettuccine with Salt Spring Mussels, Prawns, Scallops & Sautéed Mushrooms in a White Wine, Garlic and Parmesan Thick Cream Sauce, $18 because a) the pasta is handmade each day and b) that’s a lot of lovely, local seafood we couldn’t resist. We asked them to part the entree into two dishes and they were happy to oblige. While we both agree that the sauce was a tad watery, and the fresh pasta felt a bit overdone, the generous amounts of seafood was superb and the cheesy spicy flavour of the sauce overshadowed any shortcomings and we both thoroughly enjoyed the dish.
Will elected to try the Seafood New York, $28; an organic 8 oz New York steak stuffed with fresh seafood in a lobster Brandy-peppercorn cream sauce, served with smoked Gouda Duchesse potatoes and fresh market vegetables. It arrived done to order and it was so good, that after his first bite he couldn’t speak, and could only offer us our own mouthfuls of steak swished into the brandy peppercorn sauce. The presentation of the dish was amazing, with fluffly potatoes piped onto the plate and then baked up for a slightly crisp outside, and the fresh market vegetables plated delicately into the potato. A welcome departure from the usual “green beans and broccoli” touted as the vegetable du jour at most establishments was whole baby beets, fresh tiny carrots, and asparagus.
Briana and I craved some sweets at the end of our meal, and selected Pistachio Baklavas, $10 – two dairy free baklavas served with warm honey and sliced almonds and some fresh fruit for decoration. While the flavour was nice, and presentation was delightful, the baklava lacked a satiafactory crispness.
Additionally, Will and Briana were really disappointed by their apres-dinner Americano and decaf Latte. (I opted to finish the bottle of red wine, and was therefore, pleased).
Service was good – no rave reviews but no complaints either. Dishes arrived and went as one would hope, and server/ table banter was mercifully kept to a minimum. We were never kept waiting or rushed. A trip to the restroom was also satisfactory – facilites are well stocked, clean, and functional, although I would really like some sort of shelf to put my purse on while I wash my hands as the only option currently is the floor.
All in all, the menu changes are a great indication of a owner / management team that can run a restaurant. Some of the growing pains that Briana experienced during the first review back in May seem to have worked themselves out. And while we all know we will keep going to the Orange Room regardless of how they change because we want local business to thrive and succeed, it’s satisfying knowing you can recommend a place wholeheartedly.
I apologize if any of the prices are wrong. We did it from memory, and I had a few glasses of wine.