Restaurants; Starry, starry night...

Vivienne Heller experiences mid-summer magic in Marylebone

My stars must have been seriously well aligned last week. I had the chance to dine out in my favourite shop: what more could a girl wish for? Possibly a more consumer-friendly companion. The prospect of a Conran caper had Vince straining at the leash like a reluctant hound as I dragged him into Orrery (named after a model of the solar system: portent of a stellar dining experience?).

This Marylebone haunt opened a private terrace last month. A sliver of al fresco alongside the second floor of The Conran Shop, it is not, at first glance, too prepossessing. A few tables are squeezed in amongst terracotta pots and other garden accoutrements, each bearing a price tag. But it is blatant and fun, and a world apart from the sleek restaurant on the first floor.

The sun was setting when we arrived, casting a bewitching hue on the terrace. We chose from the short but titillating bar menu, and considered the wine list. Five hundred bottles is a daunting range - one cabernet sauvignon was judged among the top 12 wines of the century by the Wine Spectator - but our sancerre was judged "a good choice, sir" by the charming sommelier.

Then came the food - a carousel of flavours and textures and colours; traditional fare with an exotic twist. My smoked salmon and caviar came with a featherlight blini, while Vince's modestly named soupe du jour was a revelation: cucumber, poured at the table over raw oysters. This terrific combination prepped his palate for the main course - pigeon. A pleasing contrast to his recent Syrian experience of pigeon - beak and all, with road-accident presentation - this was an elegant bird swathed in ravioli, in a rich madeira sauce. Intense and tender, it was almost too flavoursome for a main: it tipped Vince's tastebuds into overload, raring for another course.

Having skipped my way virtuously through the green finery of an artichoke and asparagus salad, I joined him in the dessert menu. Chef Chris Galvin's signature mille feuille of raspberries was sublime, every fruit a tart, fresh specimen. Vince smiled up shyly from his "superb, very French" creme brulee, and I knew he'd been won over.

At this moment, a power-cut interjected with perfect timing. The canopy drew back to reveal a starry sky, and diners' gentle laughter floated up from the restaurant below as unflustered staff plundered the shop for candles. Leaves rustled, a distant bell chimed, pigeons cooed: we listened in rapt awe to the night sounds from our shadowy treehouse.

Vince celebrated with a cigar, chosen from one of two humidors with the expert help of our wonderful waiter. His sensitive, attuned service was a triumph; the best I've ever encountered. Between him and the chef, some fine magic had been wrought: my rebellious companion had been transformed into a fat-cat Conran junkie. I sighed happily: "Now, about this furniture, darling..."

Orrery, 55-57 Marylebone High St, W1 (0171-616 8000). From around pounds 40 a head

AL FRESCO FARE

Belair House Gallery Rd, SE21 (0181-299 9788). Modern Brit fare on two terraces

The Red Pepper 8 Formosa St, W9 (0171-266 2708). Al fresco pizzas from wood-burning oven

MT Bar

307 Lillie Rd, SW6 (0171-385 1130) Substantial bar eats in honeysuckled garden with heaters

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones