It's possible that The Orchid is an example of a theory I've expounded before: if your restaurant never becomes very fashionable, it can never fall out of fashion.
Unless you know where it is, it's easy to miss. It's at the Ballsbridge end of Pembroke Road, in the basement of one the large terraced houses that line that road. Walk in through the understated entrance and you're in a very nicely furnished room that's much larger and longer than you'd have guessed from outside. The tables are well-spaced, they're topped with good linen and the tableware is good quality.
What I did know about The Orchid was that it has a reputation for the high standard of its service. It lived up to its reputation on the night: from the moment we arrived the service was both friendly and attentive. The menu, like many Chinese restaurants, is long and has a bewildering array of choices, running the gamut of Dim Sung dishes, through pork, beef, lamb and prawn dishes. Eventually we decided upon the stuffed crab claws followed by prawns in a black bean sauce for Michael and the spicy squid followed by sweet and sour pork for me. From the wine list we picked out a Macon Lugny priced at €29, which went very nicely with our choices.
The starters arrived and two huge crab claws arrived on Michael's plate, puffed up with a prawn stuffing. My plate had a generous portion of squid rings which had been well cooked in a crisp batter. Michael kindly gave me a taste of his crab claws, which tasted as good as they looked.
Our main courses were equally good and came on hot platters which were placed on warmers in the middle of the table. A bowl of plain, boiled rice and a bowl of egg-fried rice accompanied these dishes. The black bean sauce on Michael's prawns gave an interesting contrast to the prawns, which were large and firm and made for a good dish. My portion of sweet and sour pork looked as though it was for two people, but little by little I managed to eat it all and I enjoyed it.
I suspect that The Orchid is the sort of restaurant that never serves a bad meal, it seems to have got consistency into its operation, something that might well account for its longevity. The bill for the evening came to €111.60, which didn't include a service charge.