From the moment you enter Orrery, there is a scientific feel about the place. The name — an orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system — is referenced by the gold-ringed armillary sphere on loan from Greenwich Maritime Museum in the entrance, and the atmosphere in this first-floor restaurant is similarly precise and measured. Sunlight beams through observatory-style windows onto tables overlooking St Marylebone Church Gardens, while banquette seating on the far side is divided by slatted wooden screens, so you have a choice of roominess or privacy. The room's decor — white cloths and crockery are accented by mints and pale browns — paints it as a place for refined rather than raucous dining.
Head chef Igor Tymchyshyn's menu is luxe French, a small selection of well-planned pairings including gravadlax and goat's cheese, artichoke velouté with morels, as well as classics like lamb in a rosemary jus. 'This might be the most delicious thing I've ever eaten,' said Kate in a hushed whisper of her game raviolo, a melting, earthy mouthful served with a sweet Champagne velouté and a sprinkle of crisp leek slivers. As a pharmacist, she appreciates the importance of attention to detail more than most. My asparagus with quail's eggs — four meticulously poached ovals lined up next to ruler-straight green stems, with a drizzle of potent truffle sauce — tasted pretty damn good too.
My heart had plummeted at being recommended the mushroom risotto, all too often heralding a grey pool of tasteless rice. But its steaming, buttery al dente rice, packed with shredded rosemary and thyme, was bursting with woody flavours. Kate's fillet steak, served with a dab of bitter celeriac puree and a drop of sweet Périgourdine sauce, was equally good. Just when we thought the meal couldn't get better, the cheese trolley was wheeled in. It is the stuff that dreams, or perhaps nightmares if eaten just before bed, are made of. A big bang to conclude a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Real thought has gone into the construction of each dish, resulting in some unforgettable cuisine.
The cheese trolley was loaded with goodies from independent producers.
Staff appear then disappear just as quickly, which helps maintain the intimate atmosphere.
The not so good:
The food is very rich, without many lighter options on the menu.
Although three courses are priced at £48, several dishes (and the cheese trolley) require a supplement.
A real treat: French fine dining with astronomical flavour combinations, executed with scientific precision in the heart of Marylebone.
Orrery, 55 Marylebone High Street London W1U 5RB (+44(0)20 7616 8000; orrery-restaurant.co.uk)