Review: Orbis in Oakham does not disappoint but book ahead for brunch
"I didn't know cauliflower could taste so good."
Having poured over the Taste the World menu at Orbis in Church Street, Oakham ahead of the visit, the Kentucky fried cauliflower was certainly not the dish I was expecting to heap praise on.
I first visited Orbis in March, ahead of lockdown, for a quick cocktail and perusing the menu then was enough to make me want to go back.
So when the restaurant continued with a version of the Government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme during September, there was no better time.
Restaurant manager Jonny Spencer said the 34-seat eatery had been fully-booked over August and he wanted to keep the momentum going.
During September he offered a 25 per cent discount on customers' bills from Monday to Wednesday and with October looming, this was the final week to take advantage.
With that in mind, I was really surprised to see Orbis so quiet on Monday night and even more so, when we found out what a fantastic customer and dining experience it was.
Our waitress for the evening was Ellie, who turned out to be assistant manager Ellie Payter, and she couldn't have been more friendly and helpful.
She recommended that as a party of two, we choose a couple of dishes from the From the Land and From the Sea sections of the menu, and a few from the From the Garden section.
Looking at photos on Orbis' Instagram page meant I knew that pan seared scallops served with crushed pea and pancetta would have to feature. My guest Richard, who is not a fish lover, plumped for maple syrup belly pork and crispy shredded beef.
As fans of another Kentucky fried brand, we were intrigued enough to choose Kentucky fried cauliflower, along with not mac 'n' cheese and sweet potato fries, all in the garden section.
I also had a Paintini cocktail from the signature cocktails menu - a collaboration with salon Paint Beauty - while Richard half stuck to a trusty, and very generously sized, Merlot.
Having ordered just behind a larger table, Ellie surprised us with a plate of sourdough bread and oils while we waited - and being on a diet, I shouldn't have indulged (in fact, I shouldn't have been ordering any of it really...) but I'm glad I did. I would go back to Orbis for that bread alone!
The dishes started coming out soon after and Richard's fears that small plates of tapas wouldn't be enough to fill us up were definitely not realised. Every dish was absolutely amazing. The maple syrup belly pork fell apart and Richard was even tempted to try a scallop.
The cauliflower dish came with a sticky JD glaze, which I felt was a little overpowering for the cauliflower so it stayed in the bowl, but that was the only complaint I'd have about any of the meal and it's hardly a complaint.
Every dish was presented perfectly as well.
I was too full to indulge in one of the delicious-sounding desserts so stuck to a poppin' candyfloss cocktail - a very theatrical cocktail, as you can see, and right up my street. Richard had a lemon posset with berry compote that he said was lovely.
Well after six months of pondering a visit to Orbis, it certainly didn't disappoint and I won't be leaving it as long again before my next visit. Although it's not a cheap meal, even with the discount, I personally felt it was worth every penny and I know that if people give it a try, they will not be disappointed. It was a shame to see such an asset to the town so quiet and I hope that's because it was a Monday night.
The restaurant has recently launched a brunch menu (Monday to Saturday, 11.30am to 2pm) after requests from people wanting to visit the restaurant during the day thanks to the new 10pm curfew, and Ellie told us this was already very popular. As a result booking is recommended. It's safe to say I've already looked at the menu online , the pictures on Instagram and I know what I'm having!
Orbis can be found in Church Street, Oakham. To find out more or book a table, click here