This cute café-cum-kitchen lies within a glass-framed atrium in the newly-refurbished and rather grand Victorian town hall in the heart of Middlesbrough. It takes its name from the popular Orange Pip artisan food and music market which happens monthly not far away from the town hall. The kitchen stays in one place, but it’s the chefs who will pop in for a three-month residency with their own menu takeovers reflecting the food mood of the Orange Pip marketeers. First off, it’s the team from The Waiting Room and Smeltery eateries, headed up by veggie food superstar Luke Harding. Well known as pretty much a vegetarian pioneer on Teesside, his Waiting Room restaurant in Eaglescliffe has won stacks of award over the years. He’s also blazing a trail at Smeltry in the Mima gallery, opposite the town hall, with fabulous food – including popular non-veggie dishes. The Waiting Room has also taken part in the Orange Pip market.
Orange Pip kitchen is a cool-looking spot with industrial, salvaged furniture, stone floor and glass walls that invite you peer in to the town hall goings-on.
Expect craft brews from some of the Orange Pip suppliers as well as wines, satisfying soft drinks and the usual teas and coffees in this daytime café.
Luke and his team are all about creating big, big flavours and making the most of seasonal dishes. Here at OPK the menu will feature a veggie line-up that will surprise and engage the most hardened carnivore.
What we ate
We tried a taster of all the OPK dishes that will feature during the pop-up period. It’s a neat and satisfying line-up. Some of them are well-loved Waiting Room staples, others pop-up newbies. Bright, abundant salads are a big feature of The Smeltery menu and at OPK we were massively impressed by the inventive selection – which look as beautiful as they taste. Squash, kale, white grape and olive salad was bursting with health and do-me-good-ness; nicely sweet, juicy and succulent roasted squash with a sharper bite from the kale and nubby jewels of pomegranate. Alongside, Waldorf sweet potato salad had loads of interesting textures and taste. Our pick of the main courses included the creamy spinach, mushroom and feta curry. Packed with the heat of fresh chillies, coriander and coconut, it was warming and rich with the ‘meaty’ bite of big chunks of mushroom. We loved also the combination of salty and satisfying halloumi teamed with soft chargrilled aubergine and served in a pitta with salad. The Waiting Room Pea Burger, served with tamarind chutney was a tad dry, but we were impressed with a Brazilian black bean chilli burrito with its authentic smoky flavour. Lovely. Prices are from £3 for sides to £8.90 for the mushroom curry (with rice). Well worth a visit to get a flavour of the Orange Pip fun.