Salty Bites: Orange-Rosemary French Toast @ Orange

Orange: 2413 N. Clark St.

Orange: 2413 N. Clark St.

There is no person who cooks who doesn’t also love finding a great new dish. I’ve recently wanted to start keeping a log of the good eats I find, if for no other reason than to help me remember them. Like the hundreds of books I read, I can often remember whether or not I like something but I can rarely remember anything more. I’d like to remedy that. Much of what I eat serves as inspiration for what I cook, so it seems fitting to share these discoveries here.

Orange is by no means a new spot for me. I’d been there a couple times when it was located near the Belmont el stop, once having a great salmon and potato hash with scrambled eggs with friends that has since left the menu – I still dream about it. The other time I had the cinnamon roll pancakes while on a date with a cop. Sadly, both the pancakes and the date were less than remarkable.

I haven’t been to Orange since it moved from that location, so when I spotted it down the street from the Green City Market, I suggested to Mindy that we go there for our post-market brunch. Although I don’t particularly like to eat citrus fruits, I’m a sucker for them in baking applications. Combine that with my love of herbs in unexpected places and it’s as if the Orange-Rosemary French Toast were made specifically with me in mind.

The French Toast is made with four towering half-slices of thick-cut brioche, topped with a “sweet cream reduction” and toasted almonds. I will first say that the toast was cut way too thick, giving me an obscene amount of food and preventing full saturation of the orange zest and rosemary custard, but the brioche was so tender and lightly sweet on its own that this didn’t matter much and I enjoyed even the center bits that were nothing but bread. The sweet cream sauce was surprisingly light and it was easy to push aside when I had tired of it (as I’ve mentioned, I’m not much for frostings or icings and that includes sweet sauces). But most satisfying was the wonderful combination of the orange and rosemary. The heavily scented, fruitiness of orange peel played perfectly with the fresh, light sweetness of the rosemary. My head started spinning with ideas of ways to pair the two: orange-rosemary glazed scones, my mother’s orange cake with rosemary, Joy of Cooking’s rosemary sorbet with orange zest! My mind brims with citrus-herb possibilities. I couldn’t finish the dish at the restaurant, but I took it home and enjoyed it again for breakfast the next day.

One discontinued meal, one bad date, and one location change later, Orange has reentered my list of “places to have a good brunch.” I only hope this item will stay on the menu longer than that fantastic salmon hash. Regardless of its longevity, it’s given me great ideas for my own baking and for that I have to say thank you. Expect to see some sort of orange-rosemary combination emerging from my kitchen soon.

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