Orange You Glad? [by Katy]

[For three weeks, Josh & Katy blogsit]

This post’s heading says it was written by Katy, but this is another example of what a liar I (Katy) am.

Let me explain. This is the third post in our informal series on brunch. Brunch, as you may know, has been a much-neglected meal by the Amateur Gourmet, who prefers to sleep through the hours during which brunch is usually served. He prefers to wake up in time for happy hour.

Hence we’ve visited two brunch spots in Atlanta over the past few weeks (J. Christopher’s and Café 458.)

But put on your traveling shoes, boys and girls. And let’s take a little trip away from the New South. A trip farther north, to the beautiful Windy City: Chicago.

For our special visit, I put you in the hands of Nate, our trusty Chicago correspondent. Nate will take us to brunch at a restaurant with the sweet and pleasantly acidic name of ORANGE. Take it away, Nate…

NATE IN CHICAGO:

I’ve personally cooked for the Amateur Gourmet and even appeared in this blog, but I lived with Josh and Katy for over six years, and it’s under their watch that sharing my gastronomic experiences seems most appropriate. Godspeed on your exams, Amateur Gourmet!

Josh and Katy might be too cheap to do many restaurant reviews, but Mara and I had lots to say about Orange, a breakfast place in Lakeview, Chicago where this morning we met our friends Dan and Laate. It’s worth noting that Mara has been a professional baker and comes from a family of professional food people. I’m just some guy.

Here we are:

orange_natemara

In the past, the long line to get in to Orange has discouraged us from eating there and encouraged us to sample the other breakfast fare Lakeview has to offer, but we got lucky today, were seated immediately. The atmosphere was hip but relatively unpretentious. There was a tree toward the front, its branches laden with big, bright oranges. The tree and its fruit were fake, but the staff seemed genuinely interested in our enjoyment of breakfast:

orange_oranges

They started us off with tall glasses of water garnished not with lemon or lime but with cucumber – subtle and refreshing:

orange_watercuc

Pencils and printed cards were provided to facilitate the ordering of fresh juice. I ordered a combination of pear and watermelon juice:

orange_watermelon1

Meh. It wasn’t flavorful enough to recommend. It tasted more like a blend of watermelon pulp and water. It wasn’t bad, it’s just that I was more fascinated by the drink’s separation over the course of the meal:

orange_watermelon2

We sampled the frushi – their signature raw fruit appetizer. Mara found it gimmicky, but I argue that it is no more gimmicky than sushi, and just as sushi has become ever more ubiquitous, I’d be only too happy if frushi followed in the wake of sushi’s popularity, rode the -ushi wave. Why, frushi could even one day un-sea-t its fishier cousin. I liked the kiwi sashimi layed on top of sweet coconut-milk rice. The mango and honeydew rolls in berry sauce were also tasty. Thin slices of cantaloupe were on hand to cleanse the palate:

orange_frushi

Mara favors savory and ordered the huevos rancheros served on top of crispy tortilla with a side of house potatoes. The plating was fun, as it was for all the dishes, and once chowdown had begun, Mara was happy to find it a substantial and tasty meal:

orange_huevos

She wanted more refried beans while I thought it was just the right amount. We agreed that the home potatoes were the best glorified mashed potatoes we’d eaten in recent memory – except for maybe the lemon garlic mashed potatoes we had at that Greek place in Forest Park, but that’s for another time:

orange_potatoes

I favor sweets and ordered the “nuts about bananas” pancake flight. Mara contends that the word “flight” should be reserved for an offering which unfolds gradually as one taste follows another in temporal succession. Surprisingly, I have no opinion on the subject, but offer possible substitute phrases such as “sampler”, “trial pack”, or “flavor flavor cha cha cha”.

orange_flight

Each of the above four silver dollar selections was a different taste sensation, but each was prepared as consistent with this week’s banana and nut theme: (clockwise from the top left) crushed hazelnut pancakes with caramelized banana slices and hazelnut creme anglaise; pinenut pancakes with pinenut butter and roasted banana creme anglaise; coconut pancakes with banana chocolate sauce and coconut sabayon; pecan pancakes with banana mousse and pecan maple syrup. I’m plagiarizing directly from the menu here, folks. Mara had to help me with all the fancy french words. The sabayon looked like if a coconut spit on my plate, the creme anglaise was like a soft custard and the consistency of the mousse was somewhere between that of the creme anglaise and the butter. What a power combination of flavors and textures. Yum.

Next time we go, I’ll order the chai-infused french toast kabobs or the jelly doughnut pancakes and Mara can get the buffalo sausage and garlic challah.

END NATE

That was Nate in Chicago, ladies and gentlemen. And a big thank-you to him and Mara for heroically eating brunch at Orange. That’s the kind of American can-do spirit we admire.

As the following post indicates, these are our final few days as your blogsitter. After the Amateur Gourmet takes the bar next week, it will be back to our regular action-packed programming. So breathe a sigh of relief. You almost made it through.

In the mean time, everybody think happy thoughts and wish the Amateur Gourmet big luck next week. Eat something yummy on his behalf. He might need it.

— katy

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