I took quite the drive to get to Port Coquitlam, so I came in expecting great things from “Orrange”. My guest lives and works in the neighbourhood so vouched for her choice in lunching venue. It is located in a shopping complex of one of boutiques and services. The exterior was fairly muted, wood accents behind a clearly defined name and logo. The title was certainly catchy. I wonder what the extra “r” in “orrange” stood for?
Inside, the layout was familiar to that of a generic casual chain. Sharp angles to create separate and more intimate seating corners. A spacious dining room fronted by a distinctive bar. Numerous flat screens broadcasting the game of the day. And a scattered gathering of all sorts of people.
Of note was the unique display of refrigerator doors. They were painted in retro pale greens and washed out yellows, with metal handles included. On them lived a splash of Polaroids, a collection of people in photos stuck on haphazardly. I thought this a clever feature, one worthy of immortalizing with photography.
The hostess greeted me at the front, holding back the heavy double wood doors. With a smile she lead me to a seat, a sea of options given the date and time of my visit. Being a weekday and coming in post lunch rush, the room held party to only four couples and some solos by the bar. Enroute we passed by the bar, a stage set intimately darker. It was designed as a large circle, which allowed for more hightop at bar seating. The 360 degree surface area meant more to cover, and the challenge one bartender needed to meet with an easily rotatable neck. No shelves and no walls behind the bar saw that everything needed for cocktails, all the beers, and the wines on tap were tucked under the counter. A difficult to work in setting for staff, but a lovely to lounge in setting for clients. Above the scene hung three chandeliers, feathered in ovals. They added visual interest and a boutique feel. The chairs here and all high tops in the dining room were done as 50’s styled stools, with reclined backs and cupped bottoms. Upholstered in an avocado green they matched the colour scheme present in the refrigerator doors.
The dining room opened up with ample space. The kitchen to the left and staged seating to the right. The right saw a step up on to a platform and a walk into a sectioned off space. This was the perfect area for accommodating larger parties. In the dining room the lowered ceilings painted in white and the restaurant’s wide windows allowed for a better lit section. The windows gave a look out at the yet to open patio. Chained up chairs and cemented tables unused, not ready in a still cold and still rainy season. We chose a table by it with an obscured view of the kitchen. A beaded curtain stencilled with their logo separated public space from an employees only area. The restaurant’s logo is of two crowned lions standing on hind legs. Both stood profiled with a fork, knife, and corkscrew in paw. I thought very regal for a bar, though befitting of any sports team; and therefore the perfect symbol for this fancy sports bar. To the side, hidden behind a row of closely spaced banisters worked two chefs in white. I could make out their figures and not their faces head down. For those wanting to appreciate these men in today there was an option on the menu for a $3 “beer for the chef”. I am sure the chefs didn’t actually accept beers when on the clock. And this was just a way to ensure all money tipped went straight to the ones who prepared the food that you enjoyed.
Another unique option on the menu, and another that I didn’t entertain was the “Bubbles and dog”. 4 Chicago dogs and a bottle of champagne. At $135 you could be sure this was a real deal bottle of champagne. I don’t see this being commonly ordered, but maybe enjoyed rarely as a fun way to celebrate. Imagine coming here after a big game and announcing your victory with a soul satisfying meat and bun combo and a well deserved celebratory bottle of bubbly. What a delightful oxymoron of food.
The menu was a one pager pinned to a giant wooden clipboard. It came with a bonus short list of lunch specials. As their slogan promised there were “killer cocktails, kick ass eats, and nothing but love”. I easily spotted classic bar favourites and unique variations of dishes all their own. Poutine, nachos, fries, and burgers. “Roadside tacos”, mini dogs, and “Chinese take out”. I believe you need a balance of both for a successful menu. Safety in familiarity for those wanting the norm, and excitement in difference for those feeling more adventurous. I dine as the latter.
Ceasar with pickled bean and spiced rim. Pretty run of the mill: spicy and overpowering in tomato taste to hide the sting of vodka. I failed to finish my beverage before the ice melted, which resulted in a heavily watered down cocktail.
“Pineapple wok squid”. Our server pointed to this as being the most unique thing on the menu and therefore it beckoned my trying. There was a thick coating of batter over every segment of evenly chopped squid. With it I hardly got any of the expected seafood taste. And the smaller chunks almost had me missing the usual rubber like chew of squid. Any taste came from the sweet and savoury charred pineapple segments and the spicy yogurt dipping sauce. The flavours paired with spicy chilli, roasted garlic, and fresh cilantro was very reminiscent of Thai cuisine. Sweet and spicy over all, the cooling sauce brought together and balanced all the flavours.
“The Leigh Brandt vegetable burger”. I am sure there is a story behind this one and its name, shame I failed to ask for it. A red patty made from red quinoa, kidney beans, and ancient grains. A burger filled with roasted veggies, pea shoots, pesto sauce, tomato slices, and mozzarella cheese.
My guest is a vegetarian and has been one for over 18 years. She has lived with the struggle of finding a good vegetarian burger, and today declared this the best she has ever had. “A-game”. The extra effort and ingredients showed through when trying to create a deeper flavour profile. More layers is needed from vegetables to replicate the heartiness of an all beef patty. And the line up above between a herbed filled ciabatta bun certainly added the extra zing needed. I was most impressed with the patty. So light and crumbly it tasted and looked in house made. The liquid retained from each grain kernel meant it was never frozen and no piece had that hard chunk you had to avoid. This was a vibrant burger that didn’t rely on its sole sauce, but instead leveraged all its ingredients to create dimension and distinction. She paired this with a side of yam fries, chosen over soup, salad, or regular fries.
I also took our server recommendation of the “Fried chicken sandwich”. She said this was the best and the vegetarian burger her second favourite. Though she was biased having never tried any of the two beef options. Immediately it looked disappointing compared to my guests’ entree. The burger itself was plain and it’s filling was sagging. Though a bite in had me changing my tune. The plain bun was to not overshadow the more flavourful elements that it was sandwiching. Bacon marmalade, jack cheese, and spicy mayo. This was an adult BLT, well balanced with an even filling to bun ratio. The use of a larger chicken fillet, shredded lettuce, and multiple thinly sliced tomato insured each bite until the edge saw meat, veggies, and sauce. I was most happy to get the taste of bacon coming through, it had its usual salty chew, but in addition to a zesty orange sweetness from its marmalade base. Although I did find things too creamy with excessive mayo. It made the lettuce soggy and overpowered the cheese completely.
I chose the soup of the day as my side, “Asparagus”. It was lumpy with actual segments of asparagus stalk and unblended chunks. It was a bite of fresh asparagus layered with butter and cream. A pure, crisp, one note taste that was “absolutely asparagus”, to quote my guest. Simple and clean. If I could make one adjustment it would be to purée the soup smooth and used freshly toasted bread as croutons for a textural component. To me the soup felt grainy and I didn’t like the chew.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The setting won me over with its causal luxury. Ample screens to watch any play by play from any angle, and cozy seats for extended stays. With free parking in the shared lot out front this is a great place to check out a game in or grab a drink with friends at. The staff were attentive and approachable. They helped one another and us regardless of which section patrons were seated in. Our server checked in often, much more than the one per plate visit that other establishments institute. We were given the billfold before it was requested, but were never nudged out. We sat in our given space and were allowed to linger, taking our time the whole way through. Even to the point of not being ready to order after three check ins. And yet no complaints from our server and no sneers from other staff. The food satisfied my need for familiarity with my want for different. Bar fare made grown up. Exciting twists and fun names kept me entertained. If it wasn’t for the distance I could see myself frequenting this spot as a solid go to for larger groups and an easy choice for picky eaters. Don’t deny your cravings.
111-1125 Nicola Avenue, Port Coquitlam BC, V3B8B2