One of the main reasons I chose to stay at the Hilton Netherland Plaza hotel on our recent visit to Cincinnati, was the opportunity to dine at the Orchids at Palm Court restaurant. In addition to being an architectural landmark, it is one of the gastronomical gems of the Cincinnati culinary scene.
Now if only their logo and web design were at the same level as their fabulous decor and incredible food! I can appreciate the fact that they want to maintain the original vintage art deco feel of the space, but there’s no reason to have such a dated looking logo and website. Their branding is in serious need of a makeover (hint, hint).
And speaking of the space, in a word – wow. I have always loved the art deco era of opulence and that stylish 1920s Parisian flair. The abundance of hardwood paneling, soaring ceilings featuring elaborate frescoes and the intricate metal sconces made me want to slip into my tux and enjoy a martini while listening to the pianist tickle the ivories. Can’t think of a better atmosphere for a before dinner cocktail. The Bar at Palm Court is simply breathtaking.
And lucky for us, the incredible decor does not outshine the food! I loved the menu the first time I saw it – so many dishes that would make my list of all-time favorites. Of course, we wanted to try as many items as possible, so my wife decided to order the 5 course tasting menu with wine pairings, and I ordered 3 other dishes from the menu. The service and presentation was just exceptional!
Our meal began with a refreshing amuse bouche featuring tangy Chèvre, Apricot Compote and Crisps. An excellent start. The next dishes were the Maine Lobster Salad featuring Organic “Fried” Egg, Parsley, Crème Fraîche and Caviar Cream and my old standby, Lobster Bisque. I love good salads, and this salad was one of the greatest creations we have ever tasted. So many textures and flavours that played so well together – delicious. And the bisque was super rich and creamy and included a generous portion of fresh lobster meat. I had to resist the temptation to lick the bowl.
Next up was the Seared “Dry” Scallops featuring Preserved Lemons, Caramelized Cauliflower, Farro and Roasted Almonds and probably my favorite dish of the night, Blue Cheese Beignets featuring Spiced Honey Gastrique, Tart Greens, Asian Pears and Almond Tuile. These tasty little fritters would give Louisiana’s own a run for their money! Love the contrast of the tangy blue cheese with the crisp sweet pears and crunchy sugared almonds. Excellent. And the scallop was moist and tender and very flavourful.
Our last few dishes were the Pork Duet featuring Loin, Cheeks and Caramelized Brussel Sprouts, Roasted Duck Breast with Candied Ginger-Carrot Puree, Foie Gras, Oyster Mushrooms and Spiced Churro and the Elysian Fields Lamb Tenderloin with Parsnip Puree, Maitake Mushrooms, Pearl Onions and Mustard Sauce. All dishes showed a lot of creativity and were cooked to perfection.
This very memorable meal came to a close with a delightful Dessert Duo featuring Chocolate Pavé with Cherries and Fromage Blanc with Rosemary Pineapple. Loved the interesting contrast in taste between the Rosemary and Pineapple. Would never think to combine these, but it worked for me in this sorbet. Might have to add these two ingredients into a future pork dish.
What an outstanding meal and dining experience! If you ever find yourself in Cincinnati, this is a must stop foodie destination. Highly recommended. For now, back to the cage.