The somewhat psychedelic lounge/restaurant APL on Orchard Street was pretty much DOA after it debuted last year; clashes were reported between the owners and the talented former Paloma owner and Top Cheffer Camille Becerra, who walked away just before the place finally opened. Now the joint has been rebooted as The Orchard House, and while it looks pretty much the same, the new chef Matt Redington is turning out a "fresh brand" of contemporary American cuisine.
If you ever poked your head into APL, you'll notice little change; Blackbook's Steve Lewis got Shepard Fairy to custom design the wallpaper, and the front bar area is divided from the back dining room by a beautiful glass window with engraved pigeons carvings suspended in mid-air. The birds are still there, as are the bronze sneakers hanging from the ceiling; what's new is the food and beverage. We tried a few things during a press preview last week, and although it's hard to get a real sense of a restaurant under those circumstances, we left impressed, particularly with a couple of dishes, particularly the Grilled Sardines appetizer, which was fresh and succulent and comes with preserved tomato, black olive, fried chickpeas and Meyer lemon ($12).
Also so crazy it works: A salad made with endive, watercress, banana, Amish cheddar, and Cardamom-Chive dressing ($9). We'd also recommend the Warm Crab Fondue ($15), and you can't go wrong with the Fried Pickles, which you dip in whipped sheep's milk ricotta ($10). A lot of the menu choices, even the salads, seem well-suited for late night drunken comfort food noshing, and Orchard House serves a decent menu of specialty cocktails to keep everyone lubricated. (An extensive bar menu, which includes a Croque Madame with Blue Crab, Comté Cheese, and Sunny Egg, is served until 3 a.m.) Redington's entrees are less comfort-foodie; among the more ambitious options are the Poached Shrimp with Parsnip Puree, Cox's Orange Pippin Apple, Shiso, and Hazlenut-Rosemary Vinaigrette ($21).
Wednesday night, if you're still in town, they're doing a “Thanksgiving Eve” $45 3 course prix-fixe, with a DJ spinning until midnight. The dinner starts with Hot Spiced Cider with rum and whipped ricotta with pecans and honey, followed by rich appetizer options such as Carmelized Pork Belly with pecan bourbon, pear and fennel; and entree choices include a Wild Mushroom Lasagna with Brussels sprouts, Meyer lemon, and an optional "lobster supplement" for an extra $15. Why not—it's not like you'll spend the whole next day stuffing your face?
146 Orchard Street, (212) 777-8600