July 24, 2007

Orange [Chicago]

Reviewers report long waits at this busy eatery, and those fortunate enough can grab a first-come-first-serve seat at the bar. I was able to score a bar seat and did not have to endure the 30 minute wait for a table on a Sunday morning. However, that did not save me from waiting entirely. I sat at the corner for the bar for nearly 15 minutes, menuless and starving. Everyone behind the counter was busy shuffling around and making juice, but where was the waitress? It turns out that there was only one person managing the business behind the bar and unfortunately, she was not easy to flag down.

I finally got my hands on a menu and I decided to move to a more open location on the bar, in hopes of faster service. I was not tempted by the traditional breakfast fare but got what I had come for: the pancake flight. It is a dish of pancakes, prepared four ways and following a central theme. This week, it was muffins: lemon poppyseed, carrot, almond streusel, and banana chocolate. For a drink, I turned to the customizable juice bar and ordered a grapefruit juice, adding another dollar for strawberries.

orange juicerAnd then I waited some more. The bartenders came around the talk to me while they hurriedly prepared juice, using the industrial-size juicer. I watched the mesmerizing orange juicer behind the bar as it sliced orange after orange and pressed them for all their worth.

My pancakes finally arrived. I was astounded by the size of the pancakes and quickly deemed it as a dish that is better off being shared with friends. The "dollar pancakes" were at least 4 inches in diameter each, and they were arranged in piles of three for each of the four styles.

I started with the lemon poppy seed, which was very delicious and reminded me strongly of the muffin version. The vanilla lemon glaze wasn't too sweet but it didn't taste much like lemons either. I loved the crunch of the poppyseeds and the zest should be eaten with caution.

Normally, I don't favor chocolate in breakfast foods but this pancake actually turned my thoughts. I just wish that there had been more banana slices on the pancake. I felt that the white chocolate chips were unnecessary.

The almond streusel pancake was topped with almond anglaise and almond streusel. I couldn't make out that anglaise as the topped seemed as if it were one and it was thick and held its form. Streusel is of German origin and a crumb topping of butter, flour and sugar baked on top of a pastry. I didn't get any inkling that the streusel was in any way baked on to the top of my pancake.

The only pancake to fall short of expectations was the carrot. It did not resemble a moist carrot muffin at all, which I absolutely adore. The pancake was utterly dry and the cream cheese frosting did nothing to alleviate that issue. I think it could have been much better if the carrot were somehow worked into the pancake batter.

lemon poppyseed almond streusel
banana chocolate carrot

Overall, I ate about 30% of my dish but I wish I could have finished it.

75 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 447-1000

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