Chai Tea French Toast at Orange: Sweet of the Week


I am not afraid to admit that one of my guiltiest pleasures is Orange, that whimsical, overtly sweet brunch spot not exactly known for its high quality or credibility. Every once in a while though, I get that insatiable orange-flavored itch that just won't go away, so I need to pay a weekend trip to the treacly restaurant. At least I go to the Roscoe Village one, which last I knew was the only outpost with a liquor license. So give me a break. But with a place like Orange, which tends to be comically overwrought and cloying in every way, as long as you take it with a hefty grain of salt and treat it like the dessert-for-breakfast place it is, then it's all good. Assuming you're not going once a week or something. And when I do go, I have an impossible time prying myself away from the irresistable chai tea French toast, an embarrassment of riches heaped inside a dessert-for-brunch bowl. 

(Orange's chai tea French toast)

As with most sweet items on the menu at Orange, the chai tea French toast is big on sugar. The key difference here is the chai tea spices, which serve to temper the indulgence just a tad; just enough to minimize my embarrassment over how crazy the concept is. It arrives in a bowl practically the size of a wok, filled with a layer of chai tea cream at the bottom of the bowl, which in this case is like the dessert-y version of a pan sauce. It's at once custardy, spicy, and sugary, a not-so-surprisingly habit-forming combo. Then comes the French toast itself, made with thick-as-hell slices of brioche filled with ricotta, fried in chai tea batter, and flecked with apple slivers and honey because why not. All that chai tea infuses its way into the French toast, making each bite erupt with heady sweetness. And like a custard-filled doughnut, the ricotta in the middle pops like a silky surprise each time. 

Matt Kirouac