Monday, May 21, 2018

Mango Pickle - Tasting Collective Dinner

I will admit that while I love food and love trying new foods, Indian food will frequently intimidate me.  This is because I really don't have a strong base to know exactly what is good and what isn't.  The food is so different, I really don't have a lot to compare it to.  Having said that, if I have a guide, I am happy to try it out.  I saw the release when Mango Pickle opened and I was interested but unsure.  When Tasting Collective announced that they would be doing a dinner there, I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out.  Located in Edgewater, it is on the far north side, though not quite in the Indian neighborhood on Devon.  It is a small place, though they were able to seat between 60 and 70 people and there is a small bar in the back.  The walls are very colorful and their was a lot of mandala art on the walls.  Our dinner was going to be an eight course dinner served mostly family style.  As in previous dinners, there was a small selection of beer, wine, and cocktails, sold cash only (The dinners were pre-paid).  I started things off with the Mango Pickle Gin and Tonic which, like all gin and tonics, had the title ingredients, but also included Cucumber and Anise.  It was pretty good as far as the gin and tonic, but the anise and the cucumber added a fresh vegetal and spicy flavor.
I said that the dinner was 8 courses.  That's how it was promoted, but there were extra things that in other places may have been considered a course in and of themselves.  The first of these was a plate of crunchy, cracker-like things.  There was no description of them on the menu and they were never mentioned, but they were pretty good.  They were crunchy with a little spice and impossible to just eat one.  I kept coming back to them as long as they were at the table.
Our first official course were Paneer Pops.  Paneer is an Indian cheese similar to Ricotta, and these were essentially cheese balls with a crust.  The crust did not seem fried, but it was cooked in some way because the crust had a crunch.  The paneer was served with Cilantro, Ginger, Chives, and Lemon Preserves.  The Cilantro and Lemon Preserves were outside the cheese balls, the lemon preserves holding them in place.  The ginger and chives, I think were mixed into the dough to add flavor.  It had a crisp outside, with a soft and creamy interior with a sweet tart flavor and a ginger finish.
Next were the Taro Root Pakoras served with Fennel, Cucumber, Red Onions, and Tomato.  Taro is a bulbous root vegetable that is grown throughout the world and is similar to yuca where tapioca comes from.  Pakora is essentially a fritter.  In this case, the taro root fritters were served as part of a salad with the fennel, cucumber, onions, and tomato, and providing it with a crunch.  The vegetables were very fresh and flavorful adding some flavor to an otherwise neutral flavored fried root.
From the salad, we proceeded to Tomato and Garlic Rasam with Tamarind, Curry, Cumin, and Mustard Seeds.  This was essentially a spicy tomato soup with a strong tamarind flavor.  This was served individually in a small glass.  The flavor of this wasn't bad, though it was strong.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't my favorite, though it was finished quickly.
 I did not notice while I was dining, and I didn't really expect it, but the course progression was very similar to western course progression.  I am not sure if this is authentic in Indian cuisine, or done because that is how Western diners expect to eat.  After our appetizer, salad, and soup, we started with our entrees with fowl, and specifically Butter Chicken served first.  It was served in a sauce of Cinnamon, Black Cardamom, Cumin, and Ginger.  It was very spicy and had a flavor similar to what many people expect of curry.  It was served with Naan, which was hollow like Pita Bread so the butter chicken could be eaten in the pita like a pocket sandwich.  It was very good and seemed to be a favorite of the diners.
The next entree was seafood and I will admit that when I think of Indian food, I don't think of seafood.  Called Siolim Kalwamchee, it had assorted seafood including mussels, scallops, and shrimp served in a Coconut Tamarind Broth.  It was also served with these interesting crackers similar to Shrimp Toast which couldn't easily be eaten with the mussels, but went well with everything else.  It was very good and flavorful and I think one of my favorite dishes, even if I couldn't pronounce it.
Our next entree was vegetarian, which, while it may seem to be a step in the wrong direction was actually very savory.  Called South Indian Pulao, it was the Indian version of Rice Pilaf and was served with Yogurt, Mustard Seeds, Raw Mango, and Curry.  It also had something that brought immediate dread upon me when I saw it, Chinese Eggplant.  When I had Chinese Eggplant years ago, I had no idea what it was and it was prepared in a dish, so I had to do some research to figure out what it was that I ate that I disliked so much.  It is incredibly bitter without much to temper it.  Despite the fact that I saw the Chinese Eggplant, I did try it.  The dish itself was pretty good with a lot of flavor and spice, and many textures coming from the rice and vegetables.  The Chinese eggplant did add some bitterness to the   I liked the dish, but I think that I might have liked it more if the Chinese eggplant.
Our final savory course was Ghee Braised Lamb with Bottle Gourd and Ten-Spice Masala.  The bottle gourd used in cooking is a thinner skinned version of the gourds (that are used as water holders when dried) and is similar to squash.  Ghee is an Indian version of Clarified Butter made from Yogurt.  As such, it makes the lamb very tender.  A masala is simply a spice mix, so the ten-spice masala is simply a ten-spice spice mix and the one used on the butter braised lamb added a lot of spicy flavor.  This was also one of my favorite dishes.
For our dessert, we did step away from strictly Indian cuisine and were served a Pot de Creme with Chocolate and Candied Pineapple.  A pot de creme is a custard prepared and served in a small dish and is similar to a panna cotta.  The custard itself had a nice and delicate flavor and was good without the chocolate or pineapple.  I enjoyed it and it was a good finish to a very good meal.

After coming here, I am less intimidated than I am in the past, but I would in no way call myself an expert.  The menu changes frequently and the names of dishes are not common in western cuisine, so I still might wonder exactly what it was that I might be ordering when I order something.  The food that I had was very good, so I would be confident that I would probably like what I got even if I didn't know exactly what it was that i was ordering to begin with.             
   

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Revolution Brewpub

As most of my friends would say, I love going to brewpubs as well as any number of restaurants.  I like going to breweries to try the beers that they make.  If they also serve food, all the better.  Revolution Brewing, one of the veterans of the Chicago craft brewery scene (opened in 2010), has been a favorite for years.  I realized recently though that while I have been here many times, I had never had a regular meal.  I have gone to a few popups and special dinners at Revolution's Brewpub, but those generally do not reflect the menu.  There beer reputation is well established and I had read many good things about their pub menu (which puts a seasonal focus on relatively standard bar food), so I decided to actually try it out myself.  Located in a very hot section of Logan Square, it is located in a vintage building with some very nice lines.  For the first few years of its existence, it had pillars in front of the entrance that were topped with fists.  The fists are a big part of the visual imagery for the brewery and are still on cans and coasters, but I was a little disappointed when they removed them from the building.  Entering the building, there is a large bar in the center with seating on 3 sides.  There are booths on the walls as well as some table seating on the main floor and an elevated seating area to one side.  The kitchen is open and in the back of the dining room with a window next to it that shows the brewery.  The brewpub is very popular and there is frequently a wait for seating.  A stairway leads upstairs where there is a second bar as well as overflow seating or a space for private dining.  I sat at the bar on the main floor and started with the beer list.  The beer list at the brewpub features the brewery's flagship beers, as well as what they happen to brew there.  They also have a commercial brewery close by with a taproom that actually has a longer beer list, but does not serve food.  As I was at a brewery with a long list, I obviously had to go with a flight.  For my flight, I went with a variety of styles, none of which was a standard bearer that I  had had many times.  I started with Freedom of Speach Peach Sour, Sun Crusher Hoppy Wheat Ale, A Little Crazy Belgo-American Pale Ale, and Rise Hoppy American Stout (which won gold at the World Beer Cup in 2012).  All were very different and with the variation of hops used, even the hoppy ones had different flavors.  The Freedom of Speach was not exceptionally sour and the sour went well with the peach flavor.  Sun Crusher is a good and light summer beer even with the hop flavor.  A Little Crazy had the body of a Belgian Single with the flavor of a pilsener.  And Rise is a very good and hoppy stout with flavors of chocolate and coffee.  They were all good, but I think I liked Sun Crusher best.
Between the beer and the bar food that I would be eating, I thought I should at least try to have something a little healthy, so I started out with some Brussels Sprouts.  I will grant that they were Pan-fried, but at least I tried a little.  The Brussels Sprouts came with Roasted Cauliflower, Butternut Squash, Maple-Chipotle Sauce, and Toasted Pepitas.  This was really good.  The Brussels Sprouts and Squash were crispy, and the Maple-Chipotle sauce added a sweet and spicy flavor.  The toasted pepitas added a finishing crunch.  While it wasn't necessarily the most healthy way to eat brussels sprouts, they were good and at least better than the bacon fat popcorn that was also on the menu.
The healthiness went out the window for my main course.  I had a burger.  This burger, the Galaxy Burger was topped with Chipotle Cheddar, Pimento Cheese, Pickled Pineapple, Cucumber, Red Onions, and Bottom Up Wit Aioli.  As with most places, my burger was served with a large serving of fries.  Galaxy hops have a flavor profile with a lot of fruit, and Bottom Up Wit, has a lot of fruit flavor as well.  I imagine that the fruit was used to pair with the aioli.  It was all very good and filling.
 
When I go out, I order dessert, so I looked at the dessert menu and saw a S'Mores Pie.  Local pie masters, Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits, have a S'Mores Pie on their menu and their main shop is located very close to Revolution's brewpub, so I thought that the pie came from Bang Bang.  I have no issue with a bar outsourcing their dessert if it brings in something  this good.  When I found that Revolution made their own S'More's Pie, I had to order it to compare, if for nothing else.  The pie was very good, but I could tell immediately that it was not a Bang Bang pie.  The flavor was very good.  The chocolate was rich, the Marshmallow Cream Topping had a nice brulee to it, but the crust was a little tough.  While it wasn't perfect, it was still very good and a nice ending to my dinner here.  I will undoubtedly return, I know know that the food is of a high standard to match with their beers.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Elske

 
While I do like to go to restaurants with Tasting Menus, it isn't my normal dining choice and the fact that dining at two tasting menu restaurants came so close together was highly unusual.  I had planned a couple of months in advance to go to ElskeClaudia, the previous restaurant/pop-up that I had gone to with a tasting menu came very quickly and was a quick decision.  Elske has been open for about a year and I have been very interested in it since I heard about it.  Run by husband and wife team, David and Anna Posey, formerly from the One Off Hospitality Group (Blackbird, The Publican, Nico Osteria, etc.), the restaurant is listed as New American, and while many of the ingredients are Midwestern, the recipes used have a decidedly Danish spin (the name is Danish for love).  The place has received a lot of buzz, garnering Best New Restaurant lauds from both Bon Appetit, and Eater, and a Michelin Star in it's first year.  The outside of the building is light colored with large windows, but is otherwise pretty non-descript other than the script neon sign that says "elske" in the corner of one window.  The entrance is hidden.  There is a tall wooden fence next to the building with a large gate door that opens into a very quaint courtyard with crushed stone, lawn furniture with furs laying on them, and a fireplace (which I neglected to photograph).  The entrance to the restaurant is in the back corner of the courtyard.  The only reason that I knew this was because I had been to this building in it's previous restaurant incarnation, though the fence was not there to shield the courtyard.  The inside of the restaurant is simple with both a feel for both retro and Euro simplicity.  We were seated at a table in the center of the room where there was a good view of the dining area, but also of the open kitchen and of the small bar area.  While the restaurant serves both a tasting menu and a la carte, we came interested in the tasting menu, though looking at the menu, there were also some very good things on the a la carte menu.  Both were presented in a very nice menu that looked like a greeting card with a nice and simple hand drawn design of herbs, flowers and mushrooms.This was appropriate because a menu is just that, a greeting card into a chef's establishment, and the design gave us a hint of what was to come.  While we discussed what the plan of attack might be, I ordered a cocktail.  Called a GinTonic, as might be gathered from the name, it was a spin on the standard Gin and Tonic.  This was made with 4 different gins, City of London Dry, Old Raj, Tanquerey, and Citadelle, Elske's Housemade Tonic Syrup, and a Dried Lime.  It was served in a tall glass with a cylindrical ice cube, a mint leaf garnish, and a paper straw.  A good gin and tonic is smooth, sparkling, and sweet, with a generous amount of herbal flavor.  This was that with the complexity that came from the herbal mixtures from the different gins.  It was a nice and refreshing start before we actually ate anything.
Talking to the waiter we found, like many places, if one person was to have the tasting menu, we all would.  We also found that we could augment the tasting menu with dishes from the a la carte menu which we decided to do.  We would be getting an additional course that our waiter helped us to decide when in the progression that it would arrive.  Our first course looked both simple and complex and was very pretty.  Called a Tea of Lightly Smoked Fruits and Vegetables with Radish and Caviar Toast and it served as sort of a prelude to the meal. It was a simple cup with a tea with a lightly smoked flavor and a thin slice of buttered toast with julienned radishes and bites of caviar.  The toast was light and crisp and with the radishes and caviar tasted very fresh and had a nice saltiness to it.
The next course was Sprouted Lentil Crepes with Smoked Whitefish Salad and Tarragon.  It actually arrived while we were working on our first course.  Also meant to be eaten by hand, it was presented folded in wax paper which made it easier to handle.  The crepe was like a thin and delicate pancake, which is how a good crepe is supposed to be, with sprouted lentils used in the batter.  The smoked whitefish salad was both smooth, smoky, and a little salty, which provided some nice flavor.  The tarragon added a nice herbal flavor.  This was a favorite and it was very difficult not to wolf it down and ask for more.
The next course was also hand held and it was beautiful in it's simple presentation.  It was a Duck Liver Tart with Salted Ramps and Buckwheat.  They were presented in simple wedges on a cutting board that sort of reminded me of a backgammon design.  The tart itself was excellent (although not as good as the previous dish).  The duck liver mousse had a nice flavor that was augmented with the green salted ramp topping that provided a light garlic/onion flavor.  The buckwheat crust provided a firm backbone and was slightly sweet that played to the sweetness of the duck liver mousse.
We went back to vegetables for our next course.  The dish was simple in it's presentation, but it looked very nice on the black plate that it was presented on.  While I will try anything that I see on a menu that I haven't tried before, I was really unsure about the combination of this dish in my head.  It was Salsify and Endives with Delice Cream, Burnt Bread, and Black Truffles.  Salsify is a flowering plant (also known as oyster plant) with an edible root used in French and German cooking that is texturally like asparagus, but tastes vaguely of oysters.  Endives are a bitter leafy vegetable of the Chicory family and Delice is a French Cow's Milk triple cream cheese with a very soft and buttery texture.  There were several bitter components in the dish, the Endives, the burnt bread, which was in crumb form and the salsify was rolled in, and the truffles.  I did like this, but I think it was because the Delice moderated the bitter and tied everything together.
The menu was following a fairly standard course progression with opening bites, appetizers, and vegetables, next would be fish, which it was.  We had Roasted Monkfish with Onion Soubise (a Bechamel Sauce with Onions and Rice Puree), Parsnip, and Preserved Meyer Lemon.  Monkfish is an ugly fish with an enormous head and a large mouth with the only thing eaten is the meat around the tail.  It is very tender and has a flavor similar to whitefish.  The white sauce added a nice onion flavor and the preserved meyer lemon was presented as a topping that gave the entire dish some tartness.  It wasn't bad and on it's own might have been considered pretty good, but with the other courses that had been presented so far, this fell in the lower half.
Our next course was a feast in and of itself and it's where our additional dish was added.  The course was mostly about duck, with 3 of the 5 courses on the 4 plates including something about duck in the dish.  The main plate was Aged Duck Breast and Mustard Seed Duck Sausage.  The vegetable plate was a Leek Barigoule (a Provencal dish typically using artichokes but in this case using Leeks, braised with Garlic and Carrots in a seasoned broth of water and wine) topped with Creamed Duck Fat.  A very nice and large Dinner Roll was included, and then our supplemental plate, Confit Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, with Chestnut, Pear Cream, and Thyme.  I like duck, so the aged duck breast was a win.  The mustard seed duck sausage was spicy and very tasty.  The leeks were perfectly cooked and were served at the point where the vegetables were between crisp and soft with the creamed duck fat providing a nice bit of savoriness.  The dinner roll was one of the best rolls that I have ever had and I would have been happy to eat it on its own.  It had a nice crust and the inside was just tear apart soft with a nice flavor.  With the extra course, my dining companions liked it and I liked the mushrooms, which were thinly sliced, but the pear cream included pears and I didn't care for it.  The main course was very good and our supplemental had good elements.  I could see how it was all supposed to work together, I just didn't care for the entire combination together.
As might be guessed, the last course was our last savory course.  Our next course was a very simple and cute palate cleanser, Frozen Fennel Jelly with Mint.  It was a simple bite to be eaten by hand with light mint flavor.  It was like a a mint gummy cube and I really enjoyed it.
Palate cleansers are pre-desserts to bridge the gap between the savory main course and the sweet desserts.  Having said that while our dessert was very good, it wasn't exceptionally sweet.  It was Whipped Whey with Earl Grey Ice Cream, Parsnips, Buckwheat, and Lemon.  The whipped whey was very light and interesting.  It was similar to Whipped Cream, but the texture wasn't quite the same.  The Earl Grey ice cream added an herbal and sweet tartness, which the lemon used to tie to the whey, and the buckwheat added a little crunch.  Overall it was a very good meal with some good friends that was enjoyed by all.  I'm glad that I was able to go and was happy to have friends to share it with.

 

  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Claudia Pop-Up

 
I like to keep track of underground dining in Chicago even if there are a few that I will probably never go to (for whatever reason).  I had first heard about Claudia, an underground pop-up run by Chef Trevor Teich and open only on weekends and doing a fine dining menu, a couple of years ago and while I was very interested, I couldn't bring things together for a night out there.  When I heard that they would be closing and that former Moto Chef Richie Farina would be a guest chef for their last dinners, I said that I had to make this happen.  As it was, I made it to Claudia's last dinner.  I have a special spot in my heart for Moto.  It was the first fine dining restaurant that I went to and they were full on into Molecular Gastronomy, a combination of science and art.  Richie was one of the chefs when I first went, but had risen to Executive Chef by the second time I came.  After he left, he has kind of flown under the radar, so I was interested to see what he would do.  Claudia was located on the second floor of a building in the West Loop, an area that used to be the warehouse district for the local food companies.  The building looked like it had formerly been a warehouse, but had been converted to offices.  Our dining area was small and stark and had two 8 seat picnic tables.  There was a table for the drinks that people brought and two doors, to the room.  The first door was the entrance, but the second led out into a large ballroom area that separated the dining room from the large industrial kitchen.  The diners could wait in the ballroom and socialize with each other and the chefs until dinner was ready to be served.  When dinner was announced, we were told that we could sit wherever we wanted at either picnic table.  I was by myself, so I sat at a corner to give other diners who were dining with other people the ability to dine together.  I sat across from a brother and sister who were both involved in the tech industry and a young man, his female friend, and aunt.  The people that I was around were very interested in technology and science, so the conversations were very interesting.
When we were seated, our first course came out and it looked for all the world like Chicharrones served on a paper towel.  While similar, the "chicharrones" were actually Flash-Fried Beef Tendons.  The texture was similar, very light and crunchy, but the flavor was a little more savory.  The paper towel was also an illusion.  While it looked like a paper towel, it was actually a ceramic plate.  It was very cool and set a great stage for a night of experimentation.
While the Beef Tendons were good, they weren't an official course and were more an Amuse Bouche.  Our first course was about lamb.  It started with Lamb Loin Tartare and accompanied it with Lamb Fat Aioli, Red Carrots, Onion Strings, and as with most tartares, a raw egg.  I like Steak Tartare, this had a more funky and gamy flavor than does beef as might be expected from a dish using a lot of lamb. 
The next course was apparently a classic of Chef Trevor's and was frequently on the menu.  Called Snails in the Woods, it was very much a visual experience.  The plate with the dish was presented first and then water was poured into a vase on the table.  The vase apparently had dry ice because when the water was poured into it, steam poured out to set the atmosphere for the dish.  The dish itself consisted of Tempura Fried Snails, Black Truffle "Dirt", and Herbs.  With the steam (fog), the leafy herbs, and the dirt, the illusion was complete.  The snails were very good.  The tempura crust provided a light crunch to the regular chewy texture of snails.  The herbs and dirt added some nice flavor to the snails.  The dirt tasted of truffles (of course), but it didn't have the overwhelming flavor of some truffle flavored dishes.
Our next course was called Coconut Squid and seemed to be an unusual combination, especially that was what the course almost completely consisted of.  It was a multi-layer course starting on the bottom with Coconut Custard, topped with Squid Ink Marinated Squid.  On top of this was Deep Fried Young Coconut.  This was all seasoned with Togarashi and Nuac Mon Kombu (a Fish Sauce Braised Seaweed).  The dish was a mixture of flavors and textures from soft and chewy to crunchy.  The squid ink marinade did little to the squid other than turn it black.  While all of the individual components were good on their own, if you could get a bite with everything, it was the best, with a wealth of flavors and textures.  I have to think that this was one of Richie's dishes, because I noticed that there is something similar in the Moto Cookbook.
The next course was very pretty and delectable as first presented even in its simplicity.  It started with a couple of Butter Poached Scallops with Cuttlefish, Fennel, and Confited Orange.  To this was added a Red Wine and Scallop Consomme.  The scallops were incredibly tender and flavorful.  The cuttlefish added some texture, the fennel - some flavor, and the confited orange concentrated the orange flavor.  The consomme, was very light, but added flavor to the dish and was all pretty good.
The next course is a classic flavor combination, but the dish was very much an expression of art and science.  It was Beef and Cabbage which you would expect to be simply brown and green which were there, but there were a variety of shades of red and green striped on the plate (from cabbage juice at different pH levels).  The dish consisted of an incredibly tender Red Wine Braised Short Rib and Bacon Braised Cabbage, with the previously mentioned Cabbage Juice, Leek Ash, and Sarsparilla Beef Glaze.  It was rich, tender, savory, and almost as much fun to look at as it was to eat. 
Our last savory course that reminded me somewhat of a Deconstructed Cubano Sandwich.  It was made with a Quick Cured Pork Belly, Pork Loin, Corn Bread, Rye, Carrots, and Mustard.  I will grant that a Cubano has two types of pork, Swiss cheese, Mustard, and Pickles, on Grilled Bread, and this dish replaced cheese with carrots, but the flavors still really reminded me of a Cubano.  It was simple, very flavorful, and very good.
I said that the Pork Belly was our last savory course.  That was sort of true.  Our next course was dessert which was sweet as a dessert should be, but it was also very savory.  It was a Rice Cake with Kombu (seaweed) and Amazake (fermented rice) Ice Cream.  If any dish could be considered a fail, this would be one.  It was mostly ice cream in a flavor I didn't care for.  The rice cake and kombu did provide (savory) flavor, but it added to something that I didn't really care for in the first place.
The first dessert was essentially a palate cleanser, the second dessert was actually fun to eat.  While the menu labeled it Chocolate, it could have just as easily been called Coffee.  It started with Chocolate Gelato, continued with Coffee Espuma (culinary foam, this was thick enough almost to be called a mousse), and Caramel.  It was really good and actually kind of reminded me of a Caramel Macchiato turned into a dessert.
 
Our final dessert was a course in two parts and I have to think that each chef made one part.  Called Embers & Ash, We were first presented with Embers:  Flaxseed Caramels, on individual spoons for each diner, and presented on a burning log.  It was supposed to evoke the image of eating sweets around a campfire.  After Embers come Ash and that is what the course very much looked like, ash.  We were presented a plate of powders consisting of Smoked Creme Anglaise, Dark Chocolate Powder, and Brown Butter.  Before we were allowed to dig in though, Chef Richie came around and dug chunks of Liquid Nitrogen Frozen Chocolate Cake which "smoked" and was meant to look like smoking coal.  When we ate these pieces, because they had been so cold, we would blow a lot of steam out of our noses and mouths.  It was very cool, a lot of fun, tasted good, and was a great ending to a fine dinner.
When dinner was finished, the chefs were in the ballroom to talk, sign menus, and take pictures.  I did all three.  I really enjoyed my dinner, I just I wish I had gone sooner.    
   

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Orange on Roscoe - Brunch

 
It has been a long time since I last was at Orange on Roscoe, but I had really liked it so I decided to schedule it for one of my monthly brunches.  Orange has been around for a long time and while there are a couple of Orange Restaurants in the city and there used to be a couple more, I think Orange on Roscoe is the oldest.  It is a small neighborhood brunch place that unsurprisingly focuses on oranges (They have orange coffee) as well as other brunch stuff.  The space is fairly large for a neighborhood restaurant, but it still draws a good crowd on the weekend.  The fact that it doesn't take reservations means that if you want to bring a larger group means that you have to plan to have someone there a little early in order to get your name on the list.  The space is nice with local artists art on the wall, a hardwood floor, tin ceiling, a small bar at the front of the room with an automatic juicer behind it, small booths on the same wall as the bar and tables throughout the rest of the room.  Surprisingly, I was seated pretty quickly before my friends arrived, but because of a misunderstanding, I ended up getting moved when the rest of my party arrived.  It was okay, though because the table was still good and the food was still the same.  I mentioned the Orange Coffee.  It was a given that I would have some when I came as it is something that they are known for and I like good coffee.  I am not sure how it's done, but the coffee definitely has the flavor of oranges without the sweetness.  I drink my coffee black, but I have to imagine with cream, the flavor approaches that of a creamsicle.
Another specialty of the house is their Frushi or Fruit Sushi.  I like fruit and sushi both, so of course I was going to order it.  One order came with one "Maki" Roll and one "Nigiri".  I wanted to share so I ordered two.  The plate presented had the Nigiri with Strawberry and Blueberries on Sushi Rice, the Maki was Lemon and Pineapple in the rice, as well as stripes of Strawberry Jam and slices of Kiwi, Orange, and Grape.  It was good, fresh, and a lot of fun to eat.
There is a rotating Pancake Flight that changes every month.  Also a specialty, it is very popular, and most of our table ordered one.  The Pancake Flight consists of  4 sets of three specialty pancakes with flavors that rotate monthly.  The flavors that were offered this month were the Tea Pancakes, served with Lemon Filling, Whipped Cream, and Honey, Coffee Pancakes with Coffee Cream Reduction, Whipped Cream, and Powdered Cocoa, Hot Cocoa Pancakes with Chocolate Pancakes, with Marshmallow Whipped Cream, and Chocolate Ganache, and the Vitamin C Boost Pancakes with Lemon butter, Fresh Strawberry Slices, and Orange Segments.  All were sweet, flavorful, and very creative, doing a good job referencing the drinks for which they were named.  While they were all good, I think that I liked the Coffee Pancakes best.

I really enjoy Orange and even with the other great restaurants that have opened, has continued doing their thing.  I wish them many more successful years and hope to get back sooner than was the last time I came.