The Orangery, Downingtown, PA – A Review

by artfuldiner on October 23, 2023

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Pennsylvania, Review, Romantic, Wining and Dining

The Orangery

Tuscan Cuisine at Glen Isle

130 South Lloyd Avenue

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

(484) 401-5554

Orangery - Exterior 2It had been nearly two and a half years since we first traversed the narrow gravel lane and parked in the unpaved lot adjacent to the stone ruins of an old dairy barn… From there, it was just few brief steps to a secluded little restaurant retreat known as Orangery, which is also the residence of head chef Sabrina Lutz and her husband, Paul. As though caught in a time warp – tucked away in Glen Isle, a bit of bucolic bliss just off bustling Business Route 30 on the western fringe of Downingtown – it remains very much a world apart, a hidden gem from another age.

The 40-seat enclosed sunporch, is both cozy and romantic. On the other hand, in warmer weather, nothing is Orangery - Patioquite so pleasant as dining alfresco on the restaurant’s comfortable patio (pictured).  The five-course set menu of hearty Tuscan fare changes fortnightly; so, as I also noted in my first review, the items I mention here may be somewhat different from what you will experience. However, this intro will still give you some idea of what to expect (to discover precisely what Orangery will be serving during a given week, please consult the restaurant’s website).

Dinner here generally begins with Crostini, which means “little toasts” in Italian, and consists of canapés Orangery - Vegetable Quicheadorned with a savory topping. During our first visit, Sweet Peppers Crostini was quite delicious; the second time around, the Shrimp Crostini was less so – and infinitely more filling (more on that later). In lieu of a second course salad, the kitchen served up a Mini Vegetable Quiche (pictured), which was quite good, although – falling victim to a not uncommon faux pas – inordinately bland.

Once again, however, the pasta course – in this case, Gnocchi with Salmon pictured) – proved the weakest link Orangery - Gnocchi w Salmonin the culinary chain. Bathed in an unctuous cream sauce, to say that this dish was exceedingly rich would, indeed, be an understatement. It was simply too much of too much of a good thing… But, more than this, several misgivings voiced as a result of my first visit, I note verbatim: “In the midst of a five-course meal, unless you happen to possess the appetite of a starving yak, the portion size was entirely too large”; and, in addition, “as you may note from the photograph, it was not terribly attractively plated.” Even a modest sprinkling of parsley or other herbs would have gone a long way toward significantly improving this dish’s bland dropped-onto-the-plate-from ten thousand-feet appearance.

The Chicken Pizzaiola (pictured), though, was right back on track. This is a variation of carne alla pizzaiola, or Orangery - Chicken Pizzaiolapizza-maker style beef. Legend has it that, because they were so busy, pizza makers in Naples needed a dish they could easily prepare with ingredients they had on hand. And this is one of those dishes that is absolutely sublime in its simplicity. The chicken breast is lightly breaded, gently fried, and then topped with a sauce comprised of tomatoes, olive oil, oregano & basil. The finishing touch, a tiara of fresh mozzarella. And all is as it should be… the chicken is moist & tender and the sauce has just the proper interplay of sweetness and acidity.

My only quibble is that, once again, I consider the organic green salad with asparagus and parmesan cheese a rather odd, and not particularly well-chosen, plating companion. My preference definitely would have been for a wild rice pilaf and a nicely arranged green vegetable, sans superfluous greenery.

The sweet ending…? A moist and flavorful chocolate cake garnished with strawberries.

One or two closing notes… What I mentioned in my first review continues to hold true… Your ultimate opinion of this restaurant will very much depend upon Orangery - Entrance Signyour expectations. If you’re looking for a sophisticated Michelin-starred experience, you’ve definitely come to the wrong address. The cuisine here is hearty homespun Tuscan and, on the whole, quite good. The service is not professional; however, it is young, friendly, well-meaning, and has definitely improved since my previous visit.

If you have never dined at the Orangery, it is, in my opinion, certainly worthy of a visit. Given its pastoral setting and homey, unpretentious ambiance, it is a delightfully restful step back in time. Just keep the above-mentioned caveats in mind, and you will not be disappointed.

Be sure to consult the restaurant’s website for current hours of operation… Reservations are de rigueur.

 Bon Appétit & Cheers!


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