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November 3, 2003

Orly's cuisine is worth the walk

Saturday night dining options for most students often consist of the restaurants around the main campus: the Med, Florian, and Noodles Etc. Some are brave enough to venture past Lake Park to patronize one of the wonderful Thai eateries on 55th Street. However, if one walks just a bit farther, you'll encounter Orly's on the corner of 55th Street and Hyde Park. For those who don't know Orly's, it's the former Jalapeños—different name, yet much of the same Mexican cuisine with some new additions to the menu. A while ago, several members of the Maroon editorial staff decided to check out the sampler menu. You pay $10.95 and choose a category like Mexican or Asian, and then can choose from several appetizer-sized dishes.

Libby: The vegetarian quesadillas were scrumptious. Since becoming vegetarian, I have had the following problem: everything tastes like vegetables. The quesadillas tasted like what I'm sure restaurant connoisseurs call a "dish," not a "lump of vegetables and cheese." The muffins, desserts, and other dishes that may or may not have been vegetarian followed suit.

Everything had a very distinct taste that I could tell had been concocted after decades of muffin, dessert, and entrée research.

Orly's also seems to have done research into the student budget and its inverse proportion to the student stomach. Hence: the new sampler menu, similar to the serving style of a tapas bar, where you are given tons of different but smaller yummy things to eat. At Orly's they delineate the selections by style, from Mexican to Italian, and bring out appetizers, entrees, and desserts, all for a decent price.

George: Since I am certainly not a vegetarian—carnivore might be a more accurate term—I headed directly for the salmon. Hailing from the East Coast, I have had my share of good salmon, and the Orly's version did not disappoint. The fish was flavorful, well textured, and proclaimed an interesting, sweet, orange accent. The combination was refreshing and definitely a favorite.

I have never been a dessert person—sweets never really did it for me—but after downing enough salmon to kill a family tree, I needed something to finish me off. My eyes searched the plates of cakes, cookies, and sweets and finally found my heart's desire—chocolate-covered strawberries, the perfect mix between juicy, tart fruit and sweet dark chocolate. I devoured two and would have gone for more, had our pesky Voices editor not turned up late (don't blame him, he's a Red Sox fan) and I was told by the others to "save one for Andy." Blast!

Carolina: The mango chutney sauce with the crunchy chicken egg rolls, which, despite my initial skepticism of putting chicken in egg rolls, were surprisingly good. We carnivores also ate some potato skins loaded with cheddar, bacon, and, in an interesting twist, barbecue chicken. Interesting twists seem to be the norm on the menu—sometimes they work and sometimes, as in the case of the Santa Fe stuffed chicken and the jambalaya steak, they don't. But I'll go ahead and jump on this dessert bandwagon and say that the chocolate Kahlua mousse pie and the cookies were delicious.

Margaret: I'm with Libby on the vegetarian train. The pasta dish was decent, the aforementioned quesadillas highly yummy, but what really sealed the deal for me was the dessert action. If you're not in the mood to drop cash on dinner, you should still swing by O-town for some mad brownie time. The caramel chocolate marshmallow brownies will rock your mouth in tasty ways not usually understood on this earth. The apple cinnamon brownie adds a new twist to the old standby by throwing in your favorite oatmeal flavor with your standard vehicle for marijuana. Oh baby, oh baby.

Andrew: If you managed to save room after the hefty entrees, I whole-heartedly recommend the chocolate Kahlua cake, a sweet texture of cocoa and espresso that will leave your mouth watering for more. It melts away on your tongue like a little slice of heaven sent from the angels to show us mortals what everything will taste like in the hereafter. If I had a choice between making sweet love to Shannon Elizabeth and eating a slice of this cake, I would certainly choose Shannon Elizabeth. Nevertheless, I would have to think about it for several seconds, more than I can say for any other food—it's that good.

So, leave some of your side dishes alone and make sure you can enjoy this delicious treat.