It’s owned by Anne Horner and Matthew Duggan-Jones, who previously worked together in one of the Marmadukes family cafes, and their ever-changing menus combine South African and international cuisines with a modern twist.
When I visited a table mate on a balmy Thursday evening, it was busy with couples and groups, and there was a real buzz in the atmosphere.
From the start we were made very welcome and the service was exemplary throughout. We visited on an extremely hot day and really appreciated that the table water was continuously replenished during our meal.
The menu isn’t particularly extensive, but is full of amazing-sounding dishes.
To start, we chose to share hot mosbolletjies, a sweet bread from the wine regions of South Africa, served with whipped rosemary butter and beer crackers, served with whipped feta cheese, onion caramel and nasturtium.
The mosbolletjies tasted divine and had a hint of fennel, which gave it an interesting kick, and the whipped butter complimented the flavors of the bread and was utterly delicious.
The beer crackers were light and had subtle beer notes, giving way to the stronger, more indulgent flavors of the whipped feta.
Moving on to the main course, I opted for the hot cauliflower, which was cooked in a decadent hot buttercream glaze and served with tahini sauce, OB pickles and rose-marinated red onions.
As a lifelong vegetarian, I feel like ordering cauliflower as a main course can be a bit risky, because without the right seasoning or creative flavors, it can be very bland.
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I’m delighted to say that at Orange Bird, a simple dish of cauliflower turned into a taste explosion. The combination of the hot buttercream glaze and tahini sauce made for a sumptuous dish, and I savored every bite.
My table companion chose the Peri Peri half chicken, served with burnt radicchio and elderflower vinegar.
He described the dish as very flavorful and was enhanced by the “skillful use of herbs and spices”.
We also ordered an Isle of Wight tomato salad which tasted amazingly fresh and came with wasabi and tahini dressing and purple basil. We also selected curry butter crisps, drizzled with a dill mayonnaise we couldn’t get enough of.
For drinking, we ordered a bottle of South African wine, Freedom Cross Pinotage, which had intense notes of blackberry and mocha coffee and paired well with the food we ordered.
I intended to visit orange bird for a while, and I was extremely impressed with all aspects of the restaurant which is adorned with sleek and modern decor.
All ingredients are fresh and of high quality, and the innovative and skilful use of flavor combinations enhances each dish.
Orange Bird is a true jewel in the crown of Hillsborough and I can’t wait to make my second visit.