J’aime L’Orange Bleue
Orange Bleue is a zany little French/Moroccan restaurant on a quiet street corner in Soho. By zany, I mean there are a few notable quirks about the place. First off, all of the artwork are large blownup oil paintings of the staff. I find this charming and, well, different. However, I could see how it could be a) inconvenient if someone quit and b) bewildering for people who aren’t into ‘modern’ art. Secondly, the service is VERY Parisian. By this, I mean to imply cold and snooty. Our waitress was exceedingly unhelpful and impatient when we took our time ordering from the menu. Thirdly, on Monday nights, there is a Drums performance with a prix-fixe menu where Brazilian drummers and dancers invade the restaurant: fun? or flabbergasting?
Besides these strangeties, L’Orange Bleue is a pleasant place to dine. The interior of the restaurant is warm and cozy, especially on a rainy night. The menu is stocked with tajines, seafood dishes, steak, chicken, pork, lamb, rich hearty sauces and savory treats. In terms of the quality of the food, I would call it hit-or-miss. For a place supposedly known for its tajines, the tajines were just OK. The Stella-soaked beef tajine was too flaky and tough, despite the delicious sauce, while the lamb tajine was much tastier but with very little lamb and too much bone. I played it too safe with Linguine Lemoncello, a decadent pasta dish that included parmesan cheese, vodka, basil chiffonade, and preserved lemon. It was good, but the flavors were disappointingly muted against the pasta.
There are two serious upsides of this place. 1) the sangria is DELIGHTFUL. Coming in both regular and peach flavors, it is just the right blend of fruit and alcohol, and 2) the host is lovely. He’s fun, engaged in his patron’s meals, friendly, and clearly invested in the performance of the restaurant.
Although I went to Orange Bleue on a sleepy Tuesday night, apparently the scene heats up over the weekend. I’ve heard rumors from a little bird that dancing on tables and some pretty raucous behavior takes place…
Keep it on your radar!