Orchids at Palm Court brings local ingredients to its fine dining experienceJuli Hale Orchids at Palm Court, headed by executive chef George Zappas, serves a seasonal menu of made-from-scratch French-inspired New American cuisine. Zappas and his team of culinary artists push the boundaries of familiar flavor profiles and insist on using only the freshest of ingredients—many sourced locally.
It doesn’t get fresher than harvesting honey from rooftop beehives that Zappas and executive sous chef Mallory Myers care for themselves. Additionally, a butchery program, which Zappas reinstated in 2011, provides house-cured ham and salami, dry-aged beef and duck.
“The butchery program puts the craft back in to what we do. We get whole muscles of meat instead of cut steaks. We utilize the whole animal; we respect the whole animal,” says Zappas. “I dare you to go into another restaurant and find a butcher.”
The menu’s decadence is matched only by the stunning art deco design of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. Despite its location in the heart of downtown, the two-story ceilings, rare Brazilian rosewood paneling and detailed frescos take you to a different place and, perhaps, a different era.
“The plan is that in everything we do, the food has to be a reflection of the space we’re in. The food has to be as elegant and timeless as the space. In the kitchen for me and the staff, we take pride in working in the best restaurant in the city and we continue to revise and reevaluate to be the best,” he says.
Zappas isn’t alone in thinking Orchids is the best. The restaurant has been ranked tops in the country by many organizations including the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star award and is the only AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Ohio, and one of only 63 in America.
“A misconception is that it has to be a special occasion to come here,” says Zappas who adds that while the Orchids delivers an exceptional experience, it doesn’t need to be saved for all momentous occasions. “There are steps of service that we accomplish. It isn’t old school or stuffy; you come here for an experience.”
Those wanting a low-key but delicious introduction can enjoy a Taste of Orchids, a three-course meal that includes an appetizer of smoked salmon or goat cheese panna cotta, an entrée of roasted chicken or swordfish and a dessert of chocolate hazelnut cheesecake or lemon and fruit sabayon. Offered Sunday through Thursday, the Taste menu is $45 per person.
A favorite of regulars of the restaurant is chateaubriand for two, presented and carved tableside with bordelaise and béarnaise sauce and potato mousseline.
Su-Th 5:30-9 p.m., F-Sa 5:30-10 p.m. 35 W. Fifth St., Downtown. 513-421-9100, orchidsatpalmcourt.com.