Saturday, April 12, 2008

Omelet Number 11.5, at Orange

Today I had breakfast at Orange (75 W Harrison, Chicago, IL 60605), which might be one of Chicago's most over-rated breakfast establishments. I got omelet #11.5. It was supposed to be chunks of bacon and sliced leeks enfolded in brie, encased in omelet, and topped with avocado cream puree. I'm not a fan of brie, so I tried to swap some other cheese in, but no. There will be none of that, apparently. You eat the goddamn brie or you get no brie, but there'll be no improvisation. (Jen: "It's the fork-napkin thing again. You don't get to be stuck-up about your brie if you're serving toast made with store-bought sliced bread." Touche!). Anyhow, perhaps the missing brie is to blame, but the omelet was unremarkable. Overly salty and somewhat dry, and the avocado topping was just... strange. I'm a fan of bacon in omelets (big surprise) but this one was decidedly disappointing. I dunno though, maybe some cheese would have really pulled it together.

Meanwhile, Orange - it's a long wait. The interior is actually fairly well designed for such things, but still, if you wait that long, you expect to be rewarded at the end. My gripes:

*Orange's menu, lauded as diverse, is mostly composed of things that may have been conceived by a demented 5 year old. I'm all for whimsy and eating outside the box, but I don't want pancakes coated in melted lollipop syrup and topped with crushed lollipop. I might love it for three bites, but when the sugar rush fades I will be CRANKY. And there's something that just pisses me off about it. I ate ice cream for breakfast from age 7 to age 9. I have no problem with dessert for breakfast. But this is ridiculous. Does anyone really want that much sugar, that early in the day? Seriously. Even their more mellow-seeming choices, like the chai-infused french toast, are just too much. It frustrates me when something that ought to be a lovely treat is just totally overdone.

*Home fries should not be a cylinder of tasteless mush. Home fries are one of the best parts of breakfast. They are capable of great things. Do not reduce them to pretentious decoration.  

*Frushi. Everyone is soooo excited about the frushi. Ok, the frushi ain't bad. It's clever, it actually looks like sushi but it's made of fruit! The fruit-infused sushi rice - it's interesting, but I don't think it's ever met a fruit. It met a bottle of flavoured syrup, they had a good conversation, it's fine, but yeah. Also - if you're gonna tout that as your specialty, make it an actual meal option. The way it works is, they have a frushi special of the day. It involves 4 pieces, of two different varieties. It's not even on the menu - you have to ask about it. Basically, it's an obscure side-order that somehow got a lot of attention. 

*Overall, there's something about the place that makes me cranky. Everything on the menu annoys me. It's all stuff that would either only be good for a few bites, or would be great if it didn't have one specific ingredient (and we now know, they aren't exactly amenable to compromise). The quirky good-natured frivolity of the place conceals a strange rigid adherence to arbitrary rules that brings out the worst in me (the build-your-own-juice feature has the same problem. You WILL pick something from these columns, or no juice for you! I understand that this is partly about logistics of juice creation. But it's also about RULES). The sugar bombed, LET'S HAVE DESSERT FOR BREAKFAST! AND RIDE BIKES!, reconnect-with-your-inner-child-now-that-you're-a-grown-up-and-can-do-it-properly feel to the place turns me into a grouch, I dunno. The ORANGE everything, sweet christ. Orange infused coffee just isn't tasty! Seriously, the place brings out the worst in me. I find myself getting annoyed about the  piece of string used to tie the silverware together (it's not elegant! it's a stupid waste of string!). 
  Because ultimately, it's like a bunch of super-rigid stuffy adults decided to go a little crazy and be like kids again. But they do it in this really obnoxious way, where they actually miss the good part of it, and do it all wrong. But you still feel like some kind of uptight jerk for not being into it. Now me, I'm kind of like a large, hyper-analytical 6 year old. So places like this ought to be right up my alley. Instead, I find myself thinking, GAWD would you please just GROW UP. 

Anyways, this has not really been a proper entry about bacon. Really, it's been a long rant that is only tangentially related to bacon, and a long overdue post, at that. Sorry. I will be better guys. I promise.

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