I had the good fortune of spending the last four days in Chicago, one of my favorite cities. Among other things, I managed to fit in two (2!) trips to the Handlebar Cafe, my favorite of the Chicagoland vegetarian restaurants. I wrote about it last time I was in Chicago, in case you want to get caught up. I got a buffalo “chicken” wrap and it was everything I could have dreamed of, and more! The more was a side of aged cheddar grits that were, in quite un-grit-like fashion, super fluffy and light, and delicious.
On Sunday morning, Claudia and I went in search of brunch (my favorite meal of the week).
I had a few parameters in mind. First, it needed to be within walking distance of where I was staying, in the River North neighborhood. It also needed to be affordable, and to not be the kind of place that would have a 90 minute wait for a table. I did some research on all the usual tourist-foodie websites (yelp, 10best, tripadvisor), and found a highly-rated chicago restaurant called Orange. They have several locations in Chicago, including one on Grand Street at Milwaukee/Halsted, which was about a mile from where I was staying. It looked promising.
After a brief wait, Claudia and I were seated in their bright dining room, and we both ordered a freshly squeezed apple juice from the juice bar (Claudia got hers with lime, I got mine plain). It came out, frothy and green, and tasting like… an apple. What a treat! After perusing the many options on the menu, I chose the daily pancake flight. Orange offers a different pancake flight daily, featuring four varieties of silver dollar pancakes all on some theme. The theme for Sunday was Cities You Must Visit.
The four pancake varieties were (clockwise from top right) dried fig, honey, and goat cheese (Barcelona), Green tea whipped cream & sugared sushi squares (Tokyo), Nutella and Banana (Paris), and “Pizza” style – strawberry & thyme compote with shaved white chocolate (New York). I really enjoyed my breakfast, and was full for hours afterwards… and at $11, it was still within a reasonable amount to pay for a nice brunch.
Claudia ordered the “popeye” scramble – baby spinach, garlic, roasted tomatoes, and white cheddar scrambled with fresh eggs, and served with a side of toast and breakfast potatoes. It looked great, and if I return, I’d be likely to order it (although the chai-tea french toast and the “caprese benedict” with oven roasted tomatoes and pesto-hollandaise were calling my name, too!).
There are many things I miss about living in a city, (also many things that I decidedly do NOT miss), and brunch is definitely one of them. Orange SPECIALIZES in brunch. In fact, they offer brunch 7 days a week…. a restaurant after my own heart, indeed. Plus, the brisk walk in the cold to and from the restaurant reinvigorated me and helped burn off those nutella pancakes. I hope its not too long before my next visit to the windy city and to Orange.