Cafe de l’Orangerie
8636 Granville Street
Sometimes location plays a crucial role in even picking a restaurant to go to. To expand upon this point, the establishment’s parking options, is a critical factor for me at times when deciding on one place versus another. Cafe de L’Orangerie falls into the difficult category as it is not in an ideal spot (accessible by only one direction of busy Granville Street) and the limited number of stalls in front that are shared by other businesses does not help matters. Despite all this, the good buzz that I’d heard about the French trained, Japanese owner/chef and the approachable menu they have here, led me to deal with the inconveniences of getting here and here’s my report of that visit…
Upon entering the doors, the scene that falls into your line of sight is one of a very simple soup-and-sandwich kind of place, along with a display case of desserts and pastries. I could see how it was straddling several lines, and perhaps serving a different clientele in the day as opposed to the dinner hours. It felt more “western” than anything else, but when you are seated and presented with the evening menu, you are quickly aware that there are some Japanese-influenced twists. And it was these that I was keen on trying.
The potato with edamame korrokke (croquettes) was an interesting find as I don’t think I’ve ever seen these infused with such other ingredients before. The three balls were crisply fried giving that nice “sharp” bite to them before you engage the creamy textured centre. Beautifully colored and fried, these guys are right up there with Hachibei in terms of deep frying things to perfection.
The edamame obviously gave this more texture and made them seem more filling, and it may be hard to convey through the images, but the size of these were more than adequate. With an accompanying mixed greens salad with a bright dressing, it helped to cut through the heaviness and oiliness that one might get with a deep fried main. Although I’m usually more pleased with a meatier version of these, I was quite excited with my meal and would indulge in this once again given the opportunity.
As well, on this particular evening the nightly special was this pork dish. Really just a pan fried mix of onions with slices of pork in a tart ponzu sauce. The steamed rice helped to negate the sharpness of the flavor profile here, but I felt it was a bit too sour and could have been toned down somewhat. As progressing through this dish, it began to feel tiresome – much like one feel when munching through a whole bag of salt-and-vinegar chips. The tartness took over too much in the end and with lips puckering and tongue fatigued from the vinegary flavors, I’m not sure I’d order this again on its own.
Other western-influenced Japanese classics like hamburg, and Neapolitan Spaghetti were listed on the menu here and it made me feel nostalgic for these kinds of youshoku stalwarts. With a steady flow of customers even in the late business hours, and some of them I could hear speaking Japanese, I think they have a loyal following, despite its difficult location.