It's been an activity-filled weekend for me: first was the Soldier Field 10K yesterday (fun times!) and today I did Bike The Drive with a few friends. Basically the city closes down 30 miles of the major highway that runs along the Chicago lakefront - Lake Shore Drive - and open it to bikers for about five hours. We got there around 8am and did a 15-mile loop. It was really georgeous weather, and I was excited to try out my new bike. When we finished, we decided to seek out some brunch. Someone suggested Orange, a well-loved Chicago brunch nook, and of course I was in. Orange has been on my "list" for quite some time, so I was excited to give it a whirl.
We biked an extra 4-5 miles from downtown just to get up to Orange, which is located at 3231 N. Clark, just north of Belmont. Luckily the wait was only 40 minutes for four people (would be at least an hour most other places), so we decided to grab some Dunkin' Dounuts coffee and wait.
From the moment we sat down, I could tell that Orange would be a brunch unlike any other. Their truly innovative and delicious brunch creations, ranging from "frushi" (fruit and sweet sticky rice "sushi"), to "green eggs and ham" (a pesto-tomato scramble), to fanciful fruity pancakes offer hungry diners a feast of succulent morning options. We decided to start with some fresh blended juices (at $3.50 a pop, about what you would pay for a large OJ anywhere) - I did orange and pineapple. Mmm. I also started out with some famous orange-infused coffee, which is reportedly an acquired taste, but I loved mine with a little cream and sugar.
Like an album by my favorite band, the menu is a hit-list of awesome dishes - every one of them sounds great. And - they're just about all under $10, which makes it all the more sweet! I had a really hard time deciding between the chai-tea infused french toast, the pancake sampler (four silver-dollar stacks with various sweet fruit toppings and fillings), and omelet #4: an omelet with chopped ham, candied pineapple, and swiss cheese, topped with coconut and toasted almonds. Eventually I landed on the omelet, and a good choice it was. I was curious about how the pineapple would play with the egg, but it was perfect- and the swiss only enhanced the package. It came with a little "cake" of the house potatoes (partly mashed fresh ones), and two halves of toast. We were all very pleased with our meals, and the service was as pleasant as the clientele, who were all very happy and upbeat on this beautiful almost-summer day.
I wish I'd had my camera, but alas it was left at home. So you'll just have to take my word for it that Orange was best brunch I've had in Chicago (even edging out Toast!)... and probably ever. I definitely need to go back and work my way through the menu... and bring my camera next time!