We first met Syrian chef Nabil Attar during the Refugee Food Festival, working at L’Ami Jean… A refugee in France for the last three years, this cuisine lover (and former engineer) can now live out his passion to the fullest alongside his wife Sousana, in a pretty timbered house on the oldest pedestrian street in Orléans. So what’s Närenj (which means “bitter orange”) all about? It’s a very simple restaurant (white walls, white tablecloths) that serves Middle Eastern cuisine. On the €21 menu the day we went: a stunning creamy, bitter hors-oeuvre combining Damascus hummus and crispy strips of beef; delicious skate (+€3) plated atop tarator (chickpeas and cream of sesame) with fennel, butternut and pumpkin; before a delightful rice pudding with toasted pistachios, rose petals and orange blossom. Other popular specialties: the moutabal (smoked eggplant caviar with yogurt and tahini, €8); grilled marinated leg of lamb with sweet potato purée and angel hair rice (€19); and Damascus ice cream made from orchid root (€7)! To drink, there’s anise-flavored arak (€3.50), homemade virgin cocktails (tamarind, hibiscus, orange blossom, €2.70), not to mention the (delicate) white and (full-bodied) red from the Château Kefraya in Lebanon (€6 a glass). Menus €17-21 (weekday lunch), €27 and €36. À la carte €32-37. // G.D.