the sun has got his hat on, the sky is blue, temperatures are finally starting to creep into the mid 20s and there's thats familiar smell of barbecues in the air. all of a sudden, there's an overwhelming urge to dust off your garden furniture and have a glass (or jug) of pimms in your hand at all times.
but if you can't bear to mow that unruly lawn or wash up all those bbq utensils, the second best thing about july is the blossoming of all those summer menus. not one to shy away from seasonal ingredients, the orange tree in leicester have put on a good show, perfect for dining during the latest sunny spells.
the orange tree is an alternative leicester bar which forms part of the independent orange tree group. plonk yourself on one of their mismatched tables or sofas and admire the local artists' work on the walls, whilst you sip on a local ale or one of their unique cocktails. toblerone martini for me, please.
if you're from nearby, you might have heard of the pop up smokehouse at the obar on braunstone gate too, which is now here to stay. yay!
the menu at their high street location is made up of light bites, mains and sides, with mostly traditional british and mexican dishes, as well as a couple of asian and american style plates. although there are a few different world flavours to get your tastebuds tingling, they haven't overdone it with trying to cover too many dishes. by that, i mean you can tell that the flavours and ingredients of each dish have been well thought out in their own right, rather than just whacked on "just in case".
i went for the bourbon glazed wild salmon salad (£8.95); a colourful medley of artichoke, radish, fennel and avocado. this is the kind of salad that doesn't make you miss carbs at all, or at least for a little while anyway. as you can imagine there were lots of textures going on, the bite of the radish along with the soft roasted fennel and flakes of salmon. i felt there were more east asian vibes going on with the flavouring of the dressing and salmon itself. although i didn't detect much of a sweet bourbon flavour, i really enjoyed it anyway.
sam went for the pulled jackfruit burger with homemade chipotle beans and a bbq sauce in a brioche bun, which comes with twice fried handcut chips and beetroot slaw (£7.50). believe it or not, this is a vegetarian offering. we were both very impressed. a fantastic pulled meat alternative which i think could fool any meat eater.
we were told it is very popular in south east asian cuisine and the moist fruit was perfect for taking on the smokey flavours. we did both agree that veggie burgers often lack that certain texture of meat burgers, so perhaps the addition of a firmer or crispier ingredient to this burger would have made it even better. oh, and that coleslaw. was. amazing.
for desserts, we opted for a warm chocolate brownie cake and lemon and lavender posset. although lemon and lavender sounded like an interesting and tasty combination it definitely isn't something i'd usually go for. as with fruit in desserts, my palette often finds floral flavours a little misplaced.
needless to say, this was like summer bursting from a kilner jar. cool, smooth and zesty with tiny treats of lavender. this must have been an acquired taste as sam wasn't feeling it. all the more for me i say! instead he enjoyed his brownie cake, described as moist, indulgent and just the right side of rich without being sickening.
plus, there's just something about putting dessert in a mason jar which makes everything all that more lovely.
find out more at the orange tree...
the orange tree
99 high street
note: i was offered a complimentary meal to review the new menu. all opinions are honest and my own.