[London] Orrery – A Falling Star & the difference between Sparkling Wine, Prosecco and Champagne

26 05 2011

Everytime my brother has friends fly over to visit him in London, he never fails to bring them to Orrery, an ex-Michelin star French Restaurant. Similarly during my visit, he made a booking for one of their 3-Course Set Dinners via Toptable, priced at 28.50GBP.

We were first treated to a glass of Grand Cru, a type of French Wine. I’m a noob when it comes to wine and don’t know the difference between prosecco, sparkling wine or champagne. Well, I’m sure many that many of us are in similar predicaments so I shall quickly list out the main differences based on my inference of what all-knowing Google says.

Sparkling Wine is the generic term for all kinds of bubbly. Champagne and Prosecco are all subsets of Sparkling Wine. For Champagne, it must be made from mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes that are grown in the region of Champagne, France while similarly for Prosecco, it must be produced in Prosecco, Italy with the grapes grown there. For simplicity’s sake, all other types of bubbly not produced in these regions will just be simply known as Sparkling Wine (I’m pretty sure there’s some other exceptions and subsets of Sparkling Wine apart from Champagne and Prosecco but those types of bubbly aren’t as well known by the layman). So apart from the region in which it is produced, both Prosecco and Champagne are also fermented using different methods, with Prosecco meant to be consumed young and fresh, taking only 4-6 weeks to produce a bottle while a bottle of Champagne typically takes up to a year on average to produce. Given the exclusivity of Champagne in terms of its production duration and area, it is usually popped only during special occasions while Prosecco is for day to day drinking. I guess this more or less sums up the differences between them. I’m sure this tidbit of information will be useful in helping you impress your friends the next time they ever decide to pop open a bottle of bubbly 😀

According to my brother, Orrery always serves a complimentary starter and pre-dessert. The hors d’oeuvres today was Tomato soup topped with Basil foam which I felt lacked synergy and was too tangy for my liking. Regardless, it was free.

Usually I prefer my foie gras unadulterated, pan-seared and lightly seasoned but a few recent encounters with its terrine/pate versions have left me thinking. Easily the best dish of the night, the Foie Gras Parfait here trumps over the one I had at Novus, with the caramelized apples doing well to contrast against the smooth appetizing parfait.

The Orrery Fish Cake with Tatare Sauce was a simple Fried Salmon Ball. It tastes fine but I was expecting something a little more sophisticated and elegant given the restaurant.

The Salmon Gravadlax with Beetroot & Coriander is something I’d normally avoid due to its simplicity in preparation but then again, it’s also something that hardly ever goes terribly wrong.

For my main, I ordered the Braised Shoulder of Lamb a la Bordelaise with Mashed Potatoes. By the mere fact that I can’t recall much of it ever since eating it last week, I dare say its forgettable, literally.

Given that Orrery specializes in French cuisine, I was quite surprised that a traditional French dish; Confit Duck Facon Grand Mere, Jus Gras, turned out rather soggy.

Even the safest of choices, the Cod Fillet with Potato Cresse & Mussel Veloute was underwhelming and rather petite in size.

The Roasted Sea Bass with Barigoule, Coriander & Citrus was probably the only decent main that evening, with some decent crackling of the fish skin.

For our complimentary pre-dessert, we were each given Rhubarb topped with Lemon Sorbet and Crumble.

For Dessert, most of us sticked to the popular Chocolate Fondant with Blood Orange Sorbet. I tried to capture a pic exhibiting the choc lava flow but given that the molten chocolate was far too little and way too dense, such a feat was impossible. We did enjoy the sorbet though it’s probably the fastest melting sorbet I have seen.

The Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream too fell short of expectations. Its saving grace was really the Ice Cream with its evident fragrant black specks of vanilla beans.

Complimentary chocolates to end off the meal.

While service and ambience are worthy of Michelin-class, I’m guessing Orrery was probably dropped from the “star-studded” list due to inconsistency in their food.

Bon Appetit!


55-57 Marylebone High Street

City of London, London W1U 5RB, United Kingdom

020 7616 8000

[London] Arbutus – My First Michelin Experience

17 05 2011

I would think that more people would associate Michelin with being a restaurant appraiser rather than a tyre company. As history has it, the Michelin guide sprung forth as a guide to help drivers maintain their vehicles in addition to suggesting decent lodging and restaurants in France. Over the years, such Michelin guides have also been published for other major cities around the world, though sadly Singapore is not one of them. That is the reason why we don’t hear of Michelin star restaurants in Singapore and not because Singapore restaurants are not good enough as one might possibly think.

As at 1st February 2010, London has 2 Michelin 3-star restaurants, 7 2-star restaurants and 40 1-star restaurants, a large proportion of which serves French cuisine. As this was my first time trying out a Michelin starred restaurant, I was particularly excited.

Arbutus is a 1-star Michelin restaurant serving contemporary European cuisine. As far as I know, it’s also probably offers the most affordable 3-course set lunch amongst its London Michelin starred counterparts going at just 16.95GBP. Located in Soho, which is pretty much central London, it gets really packed during lunch so reservations are a must.

For the set lunch menu, diners are only given a choice between 2 items, for each of the courses.

Both G and myself had the Hand Chopped Scottish Beef Tartare and given its rarity in Singapore restaurants, this is possibly my first or second time having it. The green spices dotting the beef are capers, which are the green stuff you see in tartare sauce. It has a slightly briny pickled taste to it and helps to musk any odours of the raw beef, though there was none in this case.

Another uncommon item on Singapore menus, I took a strong fancy to the Slow Roast Rabbit, Aubergine (aka eggplant), Potato Gnocchi. The rabbit was served already debone which I’m very thankful for as it can get quite troublesome deboning it yourself. While it tastes much like chicken, I much prefer rabbit as it is typically more tender and flavourful when executed well, which in this case it was.

For Desserts, we both had the Vanilla Panna Cotta. It was very smooth and the black specks of fragrant vanilla beans were evident at the base of the glass bowl. However, personally I felt that this panna cotta was a little too mild and could afford to be made more richly.

Overall, I felt that Arbutus’s Michelin star is well deserved and one thing I really like about them is that they do not scrimp on the quantity nor quality, even for mere a set lunch.

Bon Appetit!


63 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 3JW

TEL: +44 20 7734 4545 (020 7734 4545 if you are using are calling from within UK)

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