I'm excited about the revitalization of Wilmington's downtown lower Market St. that's been dubbed LoMa (Lower Market). I've already attempted The Rebel (gotta give it another go, since the first time failed), and a few days ago I dropped in on Wilmington's newest tapas bar and restaurant, Orillas, for lunch. At the time of my visit, Orillas had been open less than two weeks.
The long and narrow Orillas is quite cozy with a few high-top tables looking out the street font window, a wooden bar along an exposed brick wall, and linen-topped tables in the back. I sat at one of the high-tops and warmed myself while watching the first snow of the season float down, but could easily see myself returning to the bar for an evening drink and nibble.
Orillas' menu of small plates is not as veggie friendly as other tapas bars in Philly such as Bar Ferdinand, Ansill or Amada, for example. Orillas offers only four vegetarian dishes on their lunch menu (assorted olives, vegetarian croquettes, sauteed spinach, and an olive, mushroom and artichoke flat bread pizza), and adds two more veggie options on their slightly larger dinner menu (an eggplant flat bread pizza and roasted vegetables).
It seems that some dishes, like the salads and flat breads, could easily be modified to be vegetarian, but this was never suggested by my server who caught on to my vegetarianism and ran through the menu options with me. I did not press the subject since I had a few options with which to start. There is also a paella studded with vegetables on the dinner menu I noted that could possibly be vegetarian, but is unclear from the menu description, and I had quizzed my server enough on the lunch menu already.While it would be nice to see a larger percentage of vegetarian plates at Orillas, as long as there are a few options I am not that put off.
The one thing I would suggest Orillas change for sure on their menu is their cheese plate, or more correctly, cheese and meat plate. Most tapas bars and wine bars allow you to order a cheese plate independent of meat, but at Orillas the menu only gives the option of a small cheese and meat plate and a large cheese and meat plate. They should separate the two and offer a plate of assorted cheeses, and a plate of assorted meats, or, at least, an option that lets you pick and choose any combination of cheese and meat. And if this is already a possibility, please make the menu more clear.
The vegetarian croquettes were dark and crispy outside, and comfortingly soft and warm inside with a mush of onions, spinach, peppers, and carrots harmoniously blended, but never tasting overridingly or any one of the ingredients. The real flavor of the dish comes from the roasted pepper-heavy romesco sauce.
The Jardinera flat bread pizza comes topped with artichokes, roasted mushrooms, kalamata olives, pine nuts, goat cheese and romesco sauce. At $10, Orillas' flat bread pizza is a tad more expensive than flat bread pizzas found at most restaurants in the area, and for that reason there is no excuse for the canned artichoke hearts that topped this pizza. I'd suggest nixing the artichoke hearts and ramping up the flavorful roasted mushrooms in their place. The earthy flavors of the mushroom would also help balance out the salty and tangy olives and goat cheese.
This is absolutely total nitpicking, but I think new restaurants need the criticism so they can quickly correct the little wrongs. For cutting purposes, the flat bread would have been better presented on a flat wooden plank instead of a concave plate. I struggled to cut the flat bread with my butter knife as the flat bread slid up the opposing side of the plate, all the while fearing the loud clank of metal on porcelain when I finally made it through the less than paper thin, crispy crust. If not a wooden plank, at least present the flat bread on a flat plate.
Again, I'm excited for the revitalization of Wilmington's downtown and the new businesses that have arrived and are still to come. And although it doesn't seem like I'm excited about Orillas with all my nitpicking, I am. This charming restaurant is brand new, so has some kinks to work out and, hopefully, a menu to fine tune. I can't wait to go back and enjoy some wine or sangria at the bar and grab some cheese (let's get a cheese plate option!) and dessert. Hear, hear to more walkable dining destinations in downtown Wilmington.
Update: Orillas Revisited
Update: Orillas has moved up the street to 902 Market St.
413 N. Market St., Wilmington, DE 19801
Lunch: Mon-Fri, 11am-2:30pm
Dinner: Mon-Thurs, 5-10pm; Fri & Sat 5-11pm