Orange- Genius Loci
The place that I will be describing is Orange. Orange is a breakfast restaurant in Chicago that my good friend Kari and I discovered this July when we were visiting the city together. It is located on West Harrison Street, about 2 blocks away from the Hotel Blake, where we were staying and which is located on South Dearborn Street. Both are located in Chicago's Loop, more specifically, in the area of downtown which was once the city's red light district. The outside of Orange does not look like much, with a small sign and an enormous orange awning. Upon stepping inside, you are overwhelmed by this feeling of light. Under the orange awning, there is a wall of glass blocks. When paired with the large windows underneath, the result is an entire wall of light. Along one wall is a long counter, confirming the building's former incarnation as a bar (it was, after all, in the heart of the red light district). A table right inside the door was covered with juicing paraphenalia and fruits, and there was more of the same on the bar and also behind it. The seating was simple, with a long bench on the wall opposite the bar and tables and chairs from IKEA. On each table there was a small metal bucket with paper juice menus and golf pencils inside (the procedure for these, we discovered, was that you pick a base juice and then add other juices to it to make your own custom mixture). Colorful art was all over the walls, including a clear flat mannequin (the kind that is always hanging on the walls in stores) that was painted with a rainbow, red on the top, down to purple on the bottom. The wait staff all had political stickers all over their little folder thingys (you know, the thing that gets dropped off at the table with the check inside). The atmosphere of Orange is very interesting. It is artistic, political, relaxed, welcoming, and comfortable, all at the same time. On the walls in the hallway leading to the bathroom, there are drawings and notes from the patrons of the restaurant. It makes you want to be a member of the club. Kari and I left our own on the table, and I hope it was included in their collection. Everyone inside seemed so comfortable, and the food was amazing. At the top of the menu it said, "no substitutions, no build-your-own. Trust us. We know what we are doing." At the time that I went there was a special that had four different Chicago neighborhoods interpreted in breakfast, including one for Boys' Town (the gay neighborhood) that included pancakes "with large nuts and edible glitter," no joke. I got an omelette the first time, and the Chai Tea French Toast the second. I think the amazing food contributed to the calm atmosphere because everyone must have been stuffed to the point of total complacency. Kari has gone home to Norway since our trip, and i miss her terribly. But I can now say that I think of her every time I taste good breakfast food. And that we have already decided to go back to Chicago as soon as we can.