The Orchid

July 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Restaurants, Takeaway | Leave a comment
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If you fancy some exotic cuisine, then London Road has you covered: Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Turkish – food from the four corners of the globe can be found on this humble Sheffield street. Tonight, we fancied a spot of Thai and, feeling adventurous, we opted for somewhere we haven’t been before: The Orchid.

Inside, The Orchid is all red and gold, with plastic orchids lined up in the window. The decor is more traditional (read : dated) than modern oriental eateries like Sakushi and WasabiSabi, but it’s also spacious, well-lit and clean, so we weren’t put off by the tired decor. Feeling authentic, we ordered a round of Singha beers while we perused the food menu. The waiter inquired whether we’d like large bottles – “why not!” we said. A word of caution: these gigantic bottles come with an eye-watering price tag of £5.50 a bottle, something we weren’t aware of at the time. Although you get plenty of beer for your buck, I personally resent paying over a fiver for anything that comes in a bottle, and isn’t champagne or wine.

Ravenous, we ordered a vegetarian mixed starter to share (£6.95) that consisted of mixed vegetable tempura, veg spring rolls and sweetcorn cakes. This battered platter arrived with a refreshing amount of greenery on the side, including some carved carrot, shredded cabbage, a mint leaf, and a crisp salad soaked in deliciously fiery ginger.

The salad in its hot dressing was soon polished off, and we both raved about the tempura batter, which wasn’t in the slightest bit greasy. The grease-free spring rolls were packed with veggies, and the sweetcorn cakes were an unusual combo of juicy sweetcorn and crunchy peanuts. With a trio of dips thrown into the mix – sweet chilli, minty vegetables, and a creamy coconut-based curry sauce – the sweetcorn cakes, salad and spring rolls disappeared in double quick time. However, the mixed vegetable tempura divided opinion. There was a good selection of battered veggies; whole florets of broccoli and cauliflower, as well as slices of carrot and entire button mushrooms, but I found them a bit tasteless for my liking, and had to ladle on the dipping sauce. Thankfully, there was more than enough sauce to add extra flavour to the veg tempura. At the other end of the table, it was a completely different story, as the tempura won rave reviews.

In the mood for something spicy, we ordered two red curries, one with tofu and vegetables and one with beef, which came in at a rather pricey £7.95 each. To complete our mains, we ordered a helping of delicious-sounding steamed thai fragrant rice (£2.10) and egg fried rice (£2.25). Our curries arrived nicely presented in bubbling pots on top of a candle, and I could already spot a good selection of vegetables – chilli, mushrooms, carrots and bamboo shoots. Finished off with a sprinkling of herbs, the curries looked, and smelt, wonderful.

Despite being advertised with a “two chilli” rating, the red curries didn’t pack any serious kick and had the creamy richness of a korma. While I would have prefered something hotter, the rich sauce went down well, and the vegetables were still a little firm which gave them that satisfying crunch, especially the beans and bamboo shoots.

The meat equivalent was bulked out with plenty of beef, and got a big thumbs up from our reviewer, as did the egg fried rice. Meanwhile, I was left wondering what made my thai fragrant rice so special, as it tasted exactly the same as plain old boiled rice. It also should be noted that at a tenner a pop, this curry and rice main is very expensive for the amount you get. Those expecting to come to The Orchid for a curry and be full, are going to be disappointed.

To cap off our thai feast, we ordered some ice cream, which was served in retro-tastic fashion, complete with colourful sprinkles and a slice of chewy waffle. It was just enough, and the oldschool presentation was very cute.

The grub at The Orchid comes in slightly stingy portions, but there’s no skimping on quality and taste. It’s the sort of place where the tempura isn’t a heaped plate of defrosted, deep-fried pureed veg, but a handful of carefully-selected fresh vegetables. A little on the pricey side and a little dated in terms of decor, but our three-course thai feast was consistently tasty, with quality, fresh ingredients used throughout. Just remember to bring plenty of cash with you, and book in advance because this place gets busy!

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