Whether you’re fretting about where to take that cutie you’ve been crushing on in chem for a casual coffee date or looking for a romantic anniversary dinner locale, we’ve got all the details here. We hope you enjoy reading about these date destinations as much as we enjoy writing about them, and that you’ll give some of them a taste.
So, in the spirit of this selection: enjoy an a-peeling meal!
A friend introduced Orange to John earlier in the year, and he immediately knew that it was a place Sarah would love and that he wanted to review it for Table for Two. With the year rounding down, Orange’s excellent breakfast fare made the perfect high note to end our year on. Advertising itself as “contemporary brunch with a peel,” Orange is sure to delight early risers and afternoon brunchers alike.
Orange has a number of special dishes that set it apart from typical breakfast eateries. They are known for two in particular: frushi and the weekly pancake flight. Frushi is, as the portmanteau name suggests, sushi made with fruit rather than fish. Frushi comes in individual servings (about $3) of two pieces, one nigiri (fruit on top of hand-rolled sweet rice) and one maki (hand-rolled fruit-infused rice, with fruit inside). On this particular morning, the nigiri was topped with fresh watermelon slices and the maki was infused with blackberry flavor and full of fresh chopped strawberries. Sweet, delicate and utterly unique, frushi is a must for diners at Orange.
I followed up my frushi with Orange’s other specialty, the pancake flight. These flights consist of a dozen silver-dollar pancakes served in four stacks of three cakes; each stack has a unique topping and title that adheres to the overarching weekly theme of the flight. This week, the theme was the Avengers, and the stacks were designed based on Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk. Despite the lack of shawarma, the dish was impeccable. The Thor cakes were layered with vanilla pudding and topped with chocolate ganache and a lightning bolt of crunchy icing; the Iron Man cakes featured strawberry jelly, lingonberry-infused whipped cream and golden sugar crystals; the Captain cakes were topped with a red-white-and-blue combo of vanilla bean mascarpone cheese; finally, the Hulk cakes were topped with a creamy sauce of pistachio and mint. The Hulk cakes were probably my favorite but every single pancake was delicious and the preparation was ingenious. The pancake flight is an awesome way to sample some of the best Orange has to offer, and it’s also great for splitting.
It took me a few minutes to figure out that the man who led us to our table and chatted with us before taking our order was not, in fact, our server. As turns out, he was part of the restaurant’s management, a friendly group who hang around Orange’s various locations chatting with guests and staff alike. That kind of interest and dedication in the running of a restaurant goes a long way. We saw more of our guardian manager throughout the meal as he stopped by to ask us how our food was and to make small talk. Our actual server, as it turned out, wasn’t shabby either; our food was brought out quickly and with a smile.
I’ve now eaten at two of Orange’s locations and while they both have unique attributes, they are equals in charm. The River West location is a little brighter, with higher ceilings and more windows. It’s modern, wooden-slab tables remind me a bit of Native Foods as well as a hotel I’ve stayed at in Austin. The River North location, which Sarah and I visited, has more of a café feel, with a slightly smaller interior, thick curtains and comfy chairs by the windows. Both share a beautiful, minimalist-modern table layout: thick, hefty glasses for water and juice, silverware bound with an elegant yet simple string and broad white plates. The tables are a little small in both, but I spent so much time gazing around at the warm orange walls, string-lights, and '60s inspired decorations that I hardly noticed. And the music's not half bad either.
Date Factor (5/5)
I may not be as tough a grader as Sarah, but try as I might, I can’t find a single thing to mark Orange down for. Its variety of locations make it a good stop or trip depending on your location in the city. The food is exquisite, the prices reasonable, the staff friendly and the interior stunning. Orange is without a doubt one of my favorite places that I’ve eaten at in the last year and I think it would make a great spot for a fun date, double date or group of friends. I think it would be difficult for anyone to find something they don’t like about Orange and I’m satisfied that it ends Table for Two on a tasty high note.
Orange transforms traditional breakfast fare into approachably modern food in a way that is pleasing to both the eye and the palate. After much deliberation, I decided to order Popeye’s Scramble. True to its eponymous cartoon character, this scrambled egg dish features lots of protein rich spinach in addition to roasted tomatoes and white cheddar. The scramble is surprisingly filling and very tasty. The eggs were well cooked, neither undercooked and runny nor overcooked and dry. The ratio of filling to eggs was perfectly balanced. Each bite featured multiple flavors, but they were not competing against one another. The scramble was served with scrumptious house potatoes and a toast of my choice. The house potatoes were possibly the best breakfast potatoes I have ever eaten: A smooth texture, good balance of skin to potato and perfect level of subdued seasoning truly showcased this breakfast classic. Both the scramble and the potatoes were plated using cylindrical molds on a square plate, so this visual contrast also appealed to Orange’s modern flair.
The wait staff at Orange is genuine and polite, calmly moving about the restaurant and efficiently serving diners. A welcome divergence from the norm, Orange’s waiters are generally very personable and friendly. They actually take the time to establish a hip but warm rapport with each table rather than approaching the service side of a restaurant from a mechanically business-like perspective. Even though we went to brunch on a Saturday morning, John and I were seated immediately and our food arrived at the table promptly. The only pitfall to Orange’s service is their refusal to split checks, but they will accept two credit cards for the same check.
The casual but chic environment in Orange speaks to everyone’s inner indie kid. Bon Iver’s self-titled album played softly in the background, and slightly kitschy wall art made of Christmas lights decks the soft yellow walls. An intriguing automated juicer hums in the background, producing delicious orange juice. The maple tables and cozy chairs fill the space well, completing the classy but relaxed dining area.
Date Factor (4/5)
If your sweetheart is a breakfast lover, take him or her to Orange, because the retaurant is a breakfast lover's dream. The food is delectable, and the atmosphere is pleasantly intimate without being intimidating. This restaurant would also be great for meeting friends who live downtown or are passing through Chicagoland. However, the long commute and slightly higher prices may be a little overwhelming for the breakfast-ambivalent among us.
Orange is the ideal Chicago breakfast house. Its modern and hip attitude is reflective of Chicago, and its food is simply amazing. The minimal wait time edges this eatery past m.henry for our favorite breakfast outing. If you’re ever downtown with your honey, your friends or just yourself, be sure to stop by Orange before heading back up to Evanston.
If you've had an experience at Orange or have any general questions or thoughts, feel free to leave us a comment below.
This is, as far as we've planned, the last entry in the book of Table for Two. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading as much as we’ve enjoyed eating and writing, and we hope you will give some of these places a shot with someone you like. Maybe we’ll be back to write about food again one day, but in the mean time, eat well and be well.