A religious reader of Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine, I recently read an interview with Ruth Rodgers (of River Café fame). Ruth recommended The recently-opened Orchard, founded by a previous River Café chef, Natasha Abraham. Googling frantically didn’t shed much light on it. Determined to find out more, I dug deep and managed to find an email address for Natasha. As it turned out, it was worth every bit of effort.
If anyone wonders why I don’t invite my parents to be my plus-one, just for the record, I do. I regularly try to entice them to join me on my jaunts. I suppose the answer is that they are more discerning than the majority of my friends but, nevertheless, I am determined not to give up. More than anything, they’re pretty good company!
It was my birthday on Monday so they could hardly refuse when I suggested we headed to Kensington Park Road, W11 to eat at Natasha’s Orchard. Opening only last month, it is set up as a canteen providing a seasonal set lunch as a moveable feast. The idea is that you pick up your breakfast or lunch (or both) as you pass by.
Her premises are clean, light, airy and attractive and the food is set out for you to choose from. The ribollita soup caught my eye (I love all those beans!) while the Smalls and their elders opted for the smoked chicken with parsley and watercress served with honeyed carrots and celeriac mash. The food is served in white boxes, which suits the majority of the lunchers as they are en route to home or office.
We were blown away by just how delicious Natasha’s food is. It looks divine and tastes even better. The quantities are large (you couldn’t possibly be hungry) but we felt it would be rude not to taste her tantalising desserts: blackberry crumble and carrot cake. Both served with real custard or cream (one of Lord Y’s sins) on the side.
Chatting to Natasha I immediately understood that The Orchard has been born out of her devotion to food. Only 23 years old, she spent three years at River Café before setting up her business venture. Falling asleep each night reading a cookbook, she springs out of bed at 5am to make lunch for the lucky w11-ers and is determined that The Orchard will be the go-to lunch option for her food-loving neighbourhood. Personally, I would travel for a lunch like that. And, next time I feel too lazy to make a dessert – instead of dashing to Ottolenghi for a tart – I will knock on Natasha’s door.
The Orchard 116 Kensington Park Road Lunchbox: £6.20 Dessert: £2.50-£4.
Follow Natasha on Twitter: @natattheorchard for her daily changing menu.
Call 07401425354 to find out more about The Orchard at Home.