I'm always one for a meal in an unusual location. So when I heard that the food at the Old Convent in Orange was good, it didn't take much to convince me we had to go. Initially told that it was a weekend cafe, we found out the hard way (i.e. visiting it) that it is actually a Sunday only cafe. Open Sunday only? It's an unusual strategy but we ring ahead to check whether they are open and they are indeed and we ask if we need to make a reservation which they recommend.
Nestled in the hills of Orange in the area of Borenore we take the short drive there and we park in the driveway. We are the only car there at this time so we walk through the sandstone buildings and peer into a doorway into what looks like a private dining room. Facing it there's what looks more like to be the restaurant area. We're greeted warmly and as we are the only guests thus far, we can choose where we'd like to sit either inside or outside, As it's such a beautiful day choose the sun dappled side area outside which has a cool breeze running through it.
There's no menu to read here. The waitress simply reads off what is available today which happens to be three dishes, a panzanella salad with rack of lamb, a salmon and potato pie and a pea soup. As we both love rack of lamb we choose this and I am partial to fish pie too (and if I could have fit it in we would have ordered the pea soup too!). As it was we had to cancel our lunch at another restaurant as we couldn't fit in two courses (many places have a two course minimum).
Mr NQN takes a walk around the grounds to take some pictures while I flick through magazines. We start to hear the sizzle of food and some delicious aromas waft out. In the meanwhile a table for four arrives and sits outside. After about 25 minutes our food arrives. It's impressive looking certainly and after the obligatory photo taking we dig in.
The rack of lamb is divine. It's moist and succulently juicy and comes with a tangy toasted bread, roast tomato, cucumber, black olive, baby caper and red onion salad. And you'd better believe I picked it up and gnawed on the bone extracting as much meat as possible.
The salmon and potato pie is topped with discs of fork-tender potato and large chunks of salmon and a creamy leek sauce. It's seasoned liberally with dill which I always like and is accompanied with a balsamic and olive oil dressed rocket and avocado salad where the serve of avocado is very generous.
I walk past the cake display where I see an impressive looking pistachio topped cake. The waitress asks me "Are you sure you don't want any dessert?" and then adds for good measure "It will make a good photo". I'm not sure if she is taking the mickey or not (nor do I particularly care) so I order a slice of the pistachio citrus cake.
It arrives with a syrupy citrus compote and a generous serve of natural yogurt and two sets of cutlery. I stick my fork in and the syrup has soaked in giving it a super moist quality. The toffeed pistachio topping is nice but not earth shatteringly crunchy as I thought it might be. Mr NQN happily polishes every last crumb off and we head off back to the "Big Smoke" with contented tummies.
So tell me Dear Reader, when you see a menu, is there a dish you always have to order if you see it?
The Old Convent
Convent Road, Borenore, Orange, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 6365 2420
Open: Sunday only 11am-5pm