Update: Orange now resides in the graveyard of Chapel Street, having permanently shut it’s doors.
A few weeks back, I decided that I wanted a night off organising dinner and unceremoniously announced to my husband, Jude, that it was well-and-truly his turn. By his turn, I don’t mean finding a recipe, buying groceries, etc. I mean researching, finding and booking a restaurant. Easy, yeah? Well it was like I’d asked him to canoe to China.
After many anxious hours studying for what could have been his Year 12 exams, he eventually settled on White Oaks Saloon – Greville Street’s impressive Southern America-styled, hole-in-the-wall restaurant, which we were yet to try. Good choice.
“Have you booked?” I asked. “No, but we’ll be right,” said many a man over. “Um… ok, but do you have a back-up plan?”
As we roll up to a very full White Oaks Saloon, Jude pushes me through the door insisting that I do the talking because apparently he’d just choked on his tongue. Regardless of how many teeth I flashed, we were as likely to get a table that night as we were to see kangaroos jumping down Greville Street. White Oaks Saloon was a full goose and will unfortunately have to wait.
So this is how we ended up at the Windsor and Chapel Street-institution that is Orange.
No bookings required
Admittedly, Orange had us hook, line and sinker as soon as we saw empty tables. Although the eating out fairy that permanently sits on my shoulder was quite alarmed by the lack of people. “Does this mean it’s bad,” she harassed me. Brushing her aside, I reminded myself that this was Jude’s show and my stomach was starting to make some really unattractive, wild boar-type noises. (The eating out fairy proved unfounded because the place was actually quite full by 10pm; full of people who also clearly struggle with the concept of dinner reservations).
I’m not too sure how to describe Orange. It’s a mix of European, rustic, modern Australian and metropolitan, with a sprinkling of a Louisiana saloon feel. The softly swinging fan was certainly not for function the freezing night we visited. Jazz and 50s lounge music also adds to the eclectic vibe.
Tapas to share
Given we were sharing one another’s personal space tucked up in a corner leather booth, it was only fitting to share dinner and a bottle of French champagne too. Definitely the way to do things.
We started off with a selection of tapas – you can choose any four for $39. The highlight was the sizzling garlic and chilli prawns, which were super plump and fleshy, and on the right side of chilli. The super light Szechuan salt and pepper calamari also disappeared mighty quickly.
The mushroom and three-cheese arancini were delicious, as expected. I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with arancini. The pulled pork sliders were the only let-down, with chewy pork and brioche buns that were more Woolworths, less artisan bakery.
Then for main, we split the 300-gram Aged Scotch Fillet that came with kipler chips and field mushrooms. Generally, I avoid red meat like it’s swine flu, so I had planned on eating the chips and mushrooms, and leaving the slab of meat. But, I must admit, I did eat a few mouthfuls of the very tender steak without wanting to regurgitate and it was surprisingly good.
Despite Jude not wanting dessert, I insisted that I wouldn’t leave the table until I had acquainted myself with the sticky date pudding. Then the strangest thing happened. I barely scavenged two mouthfuls of my ice-cream laden, butter-scotchy delicious pudding (which was more a loaf) because someone, who had insisted that he didn’t want dessert, wouldn’t keep his pesky spoon away from it.
All up we spent just over $100, which is a pretty cheap shared three-course meal, plus a bottle of wine to boot.
Orange was surprising good, with the Italian/Australian fusion food more hit than miss, and our waiter was incredibly attentive, often topping up our wine glasses without us even realising.
Once you settle in you begin to appreciate the warm ambience of Orange, with lots of secluded seating nooks, a roaring fireplace and impressively stocked front bar. The wine bottles sawed in half and repurposed as water glasses were my favourite unexpected touch.
Perhaps we’ll be back next when Jude needs to organise breakfast and cocks up.
Orange | 126 Chapel Street, Windsor, Victoria
Phone: (03) 9529 1644