le orange bleu
Brioche Perdue: French toast made with brioche from “Ceci Cela” with mango, strawberries, bananas, and papaya. Served with a dallop of creme fraiche

France: One Nation Above God

Home to Earth’s entire population of 62.6 million people, every single one of the planet’s 427 cities, and all of its history, culture, and beauty, France is the only country in the world.

Courtesy of Our Dumb World, a national bestseller, brought to you by The Onion.

Sorry, I just had to insert that. If that kind of humor pertains to you, I’d highly suggest picking up a copy. In fact, I picked up two myself, while convincing a coworker and another friend to do the same.

In all seriousness though, the French are really nice people, barring a couple of encounters that I’ve had. The first encounter was on an overnight train ride from Rome to Nice, where a French couple tried convincing us that they booked the whole cabin for themselves and that we were, unfortunately, unwelcomed. To spite us, they gave us dirty stares while we were sleeping. The second encounter involved the server at L’Orange Bleu. He wasn’t mean or anything, but he looked at me as if I had asked the dumbest question in the world.

l'orange bleu

Located just above Nolita in SoHo, L’Orange Bleue offers a weekend prix-fixe brunch, which includes a mimosa/sangria/coffee/orange juice and an entree for $15. Their brunch list is pretty decent, ranging from a Brioche French Toast to Huevos Rancheros (how authentically French!), and Croque-Monsieur (at least that’s French).

So what was my dumb question? I asked the waiter whether the sangria was any good and he gave me this blank look like, “Uh, yeah, why wouldn’t it be?!”

I went for the mimosa, and luckily so, because the sangria was eh (Clare ordered it).

amy&clare

Amy sips her cup of joe while Clare dreams about her crabcakes

But besides that one encounter, we didn’t really see the server again. The runners were really friendly (I’ve yet to encounter an unfriendly runner) and the food was delivered on time. So everything else about the meal was pretty decent.

crabcakes
Oeufs poches Maryland: Two poached eggs on crab cakes/Old Bay spiced hollandaise/mesclun/french fries

Clare and Amy both went for the Maryland crabcakes. I had a piece, which while good, was a bit too much for me. Even though they’re really small, I wouldn’t be able to stomach both, especially with that rich hollandaise sauce. But don’t take it from me because Clare and Amy both polished it off.

The highlight of that dish had to be the fries. So crispy. So well seasoned. So soft on the inside. L’Orange Bleue sure knows how to make their fries.

crabcakes2

If you imagine hard enough, it sort of looks like the face of that server- an angry face with bulging eyes.

french toast

I on the other hand, wanted something on the sweet side and settled for their Brioche French Toast. Honestly, it was good, but it wasn’t outstanding. The french toast itself was light and airy and pulled apart easily with a little tugging from my fork. I liked how it wasn’t overly sweet, probably because of the creme fraiche. But the downside is that the creme fraiche did its job too well and sort of mellowed out all the flavors. I was hoping for the flavors from the fruit to come out a bit more, but the cream muted the sweetness. I shouldn’t complain, though, since I walked out feeling sufficiently full without being on a sugar high. I find that the best french toasts (at least for the first few bites) end up being too heavy in the end because of all that sugar.

The brioche used to be from Balthazar’s Bakery but is now from Ceci Cela’s. Not exactly an upgrade, but Ceci Cela’s is still pretty legit.

Would I come here again? Probably not, although I really did like the ambiance. I will admit that it beats the popular Essex for brunch in terms of the quality of the food and price, but not service. We dined indoors, although there are a line of seats on the left hand side for al fresco dining. The restaurant sits in an area that makes for a quaint and quiet Sunday brunch, but also for a brawly and loud Friday dinner. In fact, they even have belly dancers at night sometimes. They’re also showing all of the World Cup games, although I can’t quite imagine sitting at this Eurocharm cafe with a beer in hand watching football.

That’s the French for you.

Last but not least, THANKS FOR THE MEAL CLARE!

MENU (The brunch menu hasn’t yet been updated)
430 Broome St.

New York, NY 10013
at Crosby St.  See Map | Subway Directions

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212-226-4999 Send to Phone

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