It’s not often that we experience a restaurant without a menu so when we were invited to sample the singular delights of newly opened Orange Elephant we arrived at “The Beach” on Fulham Road with a little trepidation. Was this restaurant going to dictate how one should eat one’s steak or was this going to be a place where the customer is always right?
What we did know was that the cuts of meat (Sirloin and Tomahawk steaks) are sourced from the “Orange Elephant” South Devonshire cow from which the restaurant gets its name and we also knew that the restaurant is the brainchild of Head Chef Jai Parkinson whose reputation for culinary excellence has been deservedly earned over a career spanning the last 18 years which have seen him working with some of the world’s leading chefs including Michelin-starred David Burke and Julien Maisonneuve.
Orange Elephants are the largest of the native British cattle, with their nickname deriving from their wide faces, big ears and rust coloured coats. Alongside the signature Sirloin steak, Orange Elephant also serves gourmet truffle Mac n’ Cheese for vegetarians as well as the showstopper Tomahawk steak, a cut designed for sharing between 3-4 people, served on the bone and with delicate marbelling which gives it an enhanced sweet and rich flavour.
We entered the restaurant and were greeted at the door by the convivial manager Jamie who made us feel very welcome with all the charm and grace of an experienced restaurateur. Offered a drink at the bar, we sat and enjoyed a refreshing aperitif whilst chatting to Jamie about the restaurant concept, his background and the reception the new restaurant had received in its first month of opening. It was immediately apparent from Jamie’s warm and friendly approach, that our trepidation was misplaced. We were told that Head Chef Jai was just as happy to cook a steak well done as he was medium rare and even though the cocktail list was short, if a customer wanted something not on the menu it would be made just for them (ingredients permitting).
Jamie then took us over to the open kitchen were we met Jai Parkinson who was equally warm and friendly, explaining how the Orange Elephant’s signature steak is carefully sourced from independent British farms, and created from specially selected cuts of quality beef which has been aged for a minimum of 32 days. He also explained why he chose to use the innovative Big Green Egg barbeques to cook the steaks. The Green Eggs have a clever ceramic design which uses charcoal fuel and is capable of generating an intense controlled heat of 600ºF, essential to properly searing the meat, while roasting and smoking at the same time.
Jai told us how he had selected his team in the kitchen from people he had worked with for years and not only had each and every member of front-of-house staff been through rigorous training to ensure they are fully immersed into the Orange Elephant ethos, but the team felt more like a family than a group of employees. This relaxed atmosphere enables staff to add their personality and character to the Orange Elephant dining experience. There are no uniforms and although the dining concept is casual, the simple steak is produced and served with a finesse and flare that makes one feel that genuine care and attention has been taken.
Leaving the kitchen and returning to the dining room, Jamie showed us to our table where we were served with a carafe of cucumber infused water before briefly discussing the concise but well-thought out wine list. The selection had something for everyone and although the staff can recommend suitable pairings, diners are left free to choose whether to enjoy their steak with a red, rosé or even white. Yet another sign of Orange Elephant’s relaxed approach allowing the diner’s personal preference to outweigh chef ego, convention and tradition. I chose the Grenache and my dining companion enjoyed a carefully selected rosé.
Starters were brought to the table. A generous salad which changes on a regularly basis to reflect the best seasonal produce. On our visit we had a delicious rocket salad dressed in a honey citrus vinaigrette served with grated parmesan and walnuts.
The simplicity and freshness of the ingredients allowed the flavours to shine through and the dish was light enough to whet the appetite without overwhelming you before the main event.
After a brief pause we were served with our succulent looking sirloin steaks cooked on the bone with beautiful cross hatch marks, crisp charred edges and the all-important juicy meat. The steak is accomapnied by crisp perfectly cooked beef dripping chips and the Orange Elephant’s special house sauce whose ingredients are a closely guarded secret.
The sauce is served in a stylish mini copper pan and it is not surprising that even a truth detection consultant like Sloan Sheridan-Williams could not extract the secret recipe from Chef Jai because Orange Elephant’s house sauce is sheer perfection, the peppery meatiness of which is a perfect accompaniment to the succulent steak.
The vegetarians are catered for with a delicious Black Truffle Mac N Cheese. You may think £20 is a little steep for salad and a cheesy pasta dish but I would encourage you to try this gastronomic version perfected by Chef Jai. The combination of grated black truffle and the four farmhouse cheeses from the expert cheesemongers at Neal’s Yard Diary take this dish to a whole new level.
We enjoyed a delicious side serving of the truffle mac ‘n cheese also made with the 4 different varieties of cheese from Neal’s Yard Diary and topped with the lightest sprinkling of golden breadcrumbs. You can also order a side of Trees N Cheese. Although mac ‘n cheese is now a popular choice in many restaurants, this dish as a main is definitely high on our list based on taste, flavour, appearance and presentation. However, fr you meat lovers steak is the main focus of this restaurant.
Apart from the drinks menu the only other menu one sees is that of dessert and as our empty plates were removed by our friendly waitress, Jamie arrived with the dessert menu. As with everything on offer in this new dining destination, the dessert menu is simple and concise. The highlight is the Orange Elephant ice cream sourced from Taverners Farm near Exeter who have bred a herd of perfect South Devonshire milking cows producing a rich extra creamy milk perfect for ice cream. My dining companion tried the minty After8 and creamy Salted Caramel which were both delicious and served in the restaurant’s signature mini copper pans.
If you fancy something more traditional, why not try the Rum & Raisin. For those looking for more festive flavours, we are reliably informed that Christmas Pudding ice cream will soon be appearing on the menu.
Other dishes on the short but decidedly sweet dessert menu include Chocolate Mousse and Plum & Almond Tart. I went for the latter and was not disappointed. The frangipane filling was moist and golden with slices of baked sweet plum nestled in this simple but flavoursome tart.
Orange Elephant is a welcome addition to The Beach and we anticipate this casual dining concept serving great steaks at a great price will go from strength to strength. Whether you are looking for a quick, delicious lunch or for long dinners catching up with friends and family, Orange Elephant can cater for both equally as well. We found the interiors to be comfortable, with a natural edge and warm lighting which creates an elegant atmosphere. A combination of exposed brickwork, wood floors, pewter table tops and bronze accents frame the theatre kitchen and the team led by Jai Parkinson give off a cool relaxed vibe that makes any new customer feel like a regular within minutes.
The two-course Sirloin set menu is priced at £20. The two-course Tomahawk set menu is £80. Desserts start from £6.
351 Fulham Road, London SW10 9TW
0207 3527 999