Restaurant review: Orchid City Cafe in Arlington

Orchid City Fusion Cafe

2135 Southeast Parkway, Suite 101

Arlington

817-468-3777; www.facebook.com/OrchidCityCafe

Hours: 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday


Posted 7:33am on Friday, Sep. 21, 2012

Got your camera phone at the ready? OK. You can go ahead now and order your burger from Orchid City Cafe, where they take the burger to new heights.

Literally.

About 6 inches worth of height.

The tower of taste that is the downtown burger ($8.95) begins with a sweet bun, layers on lettuce, then tomato, then spinach leaves, slices of avocado, a fat burger patty, American cheese, a fried egg, bacon slices and about a half-inch of fried onion strings, and finishes it off with mayo and the top half of bun. And, oh yeah, somewhere in that stack there's also a layer of mushrooms.

You need the camera phone because you're going to have to take a picture or two while you ponder the big question: How the heck are you going to get your mouth around this thing?

We considered tipping our not-so-humble hamburger on its side and attacking it with a knife and fork, but decided instead to simply give it the big squeeze. We removed the skewer that held this towering burger together, placed a hand firmly on the top bun, took a deep breath and pressed. It worked. Mostly. Parts of this juicy, crunchy, messy, yummy sandwich kept oozing out as we ate, but as the kids say: It was all good.

We're exhausted from describing the big, big burger, but there's still much more that needs describing on the creative menu of Orchid City, which is an Asian/Cajun fusion concept restaurant. Yes, you read that right.

Here's how the non-burger meals work: You select your protein first (catfish, tilapia, salmon, shrimp, chicken, oysters, sliced beef or tofu) then choose its setting (two kinds of salad, three kinds of rice or a po-boy sandwich). We tried the blackened catfish on the autumn salad ($7.95). The salad was lovely, with a fan of avocado on one side and a fan of green-skinned apples on the other. Other toppings included purple onions, cashews, bell peppers and croutons. The coating on the catfish was a tad too salty, but the produce was fresh and crisp, making this a meal that was easy on the eyes and, eventually, the hips.

The vegetarian member of our party ordered the pan-seared tofu on Southeast rice ($6.75), which includes carrots, onions, a fried egg and mushrooms. Having grown up in a Vietnamese family in Houston, he happily pronounced his meal to be "just like back home."

If we'd known how large our meals were going to be, we wouldn't have begun with the Orchid fries appetizer ($6.95). Oh, who am I kidding: Any menu description that begins "fries coated in a garlic-butter herb sauce" and continues with sliced beef, parmesan cheese and bacon is not going to be passed over by this group. Sun-dried tomatoes and dried cranberries provided unexpected but not unwelcome notes of contrast.

We didn't sample it, but Orchid City has a large, creative menu of nonalcoholic drinks including smoothies, boba teas, lattes and "aloe vera" drinks.

The restaurant offers breakfast weekdays and, again, the creativity shines through with options like a.m. rice ($4.99) and beignets (3 for $1.99).

Orchid City is across from the southeast campus location of Tarrant County College. It's a fast-casual restaurant -- you place your order at the counter and then a server brings your food to you -- but the decor is sleek and appealing in tones of lavender and gray, and should you choose to hang out there with a boba for a bit, say between classes, there is comfy sofa-and-chair seating, a la Starbucks.

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