You had me at saffron

Orchard Market & Cafe
8815 Orchard Tree Lane, Towson, MD
#410 339-7770
* Closed Mondays *
Gluten free menu available

That long week where I was living in a hotel room and waiting for a Uhaul to arrive, I managed to find some local restaurants in what would soon be my neighborhood. One of these is Orchard Market & Cafe, which serves Persian cuisine in an intimate atmosphere.

Foodies might say, “Persian food? Let’s go.” Less adventurous types might say, “what’s Persian food about?” If you sneak over to Wikipedia, it will tell you that Iranian cuisine and Persian cuisine are one in the same, and borrow from other styles in the Middle East. For me it’s fragrant spices like cardamom and saffron, fruits like dates and plums and you can never go wrong with a kebab (lamb, chicken, beef, you name it).

Orchard Market has a great history, which you can read about online or ask co-owner Jason Bulkeley to tell you the story while you dip freshly baked pita wedges in chilled garlicky hummus or warm haleem bademjune. Like something out of a fairytale, a widow with 18 children immigrates to the U.S. and unravels a tale of food and family. You can still see her cooking in the stainless steel kitchen today, while son-in-law Jason weaves through the 18 tables in the dining room, greeting customers as though they’ve entered his home.

Be on time for dinner, particularly on the weekends where you’re sure to meet a rush. I’ve been on weekdays for lunch and dinner and found a table with no problem. The haleem bademjune is not to be missed, and if you save room for dessert, ask for the saffron ice cream – it’s the real deal.

Don’t be discouraged if you get lost on the way there, as it’s tucked away in a business park / strip mall just off of Joppa Road. If you miss Orchard Tree Lane, you can circle around behind the Merritt Athletic Club and find your way to a very good meal.

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