Color me satisfied: Orange & Scarlett's brightens Juniper Row
Juniper Row's burgeoning strip of dining spots with attitude already includes Spice and Cavu. Now, with new kid on the block Orange & Scarlett's, things get pared down to a more human scale. Its cutesy kitsch, bunkered in the basement of a renovated residence, is a nice alternative to the million-dollar makeovers of nearby restaurants.
Half the space is set aside for Orange, with its bagels, sandwiches, juice and yogurt. The other half, Scarlett's, offers ice cream, desserts and coffee. Although a distinction is made between the two, it's really one restaurant, with each half sharing the same smiling staff and bright, cheery tables. Restaurateur Lucero Martinez-Obregon -- formerly associated with Zocalo and Oh ... Maria! -- obviously enjoys naming her restaurants. She also enjoys providing unique dining options in a warm environment.
What we ate: I showed up for the crepes. (Oh, those memories of popping into a creperie in gay Paris.) For $4.99, you get a crepe made to order on the Scarlett's side. I pondered a chocolate-and-banana creation but was ultimately seduced by an apple pie filling with a scoop of apple pie filling ice cream (for $1 extra). My friend got the strawberry and chocolate. Both were wonderful. The sweet apple slices, topped with cinnamon and drizzled with butter, were warm from the skillet. A little more cinnamon covered the scoop of ice cream. It's worth a trip for this item alone. Ice cream flavors like Sweet Jimmy (peanut brittle and vanilla) and Piedmont Perk (vanilla and roasted pistachios) are made from scratch on location, and the attention to detail shows.
Orange's bagellinis -- a take on panninis -- are the heartiest thing in the place. Take a bagel of your choice (the list includes all the standards as well as chipotle, maple and walnut, and daily specials) and have it stuffed with ham and cheese for a Bagelamericano ($3.99), or olive oil, fresh basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for a Bagellini-llini ($4.89). Or you can choose from other whimsical options.
And, of course, there's fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juice ($2.75-$3.75). You couldn't have a place called Orange without it.
Service: Cheerful faces stand at the ready behind the counter. Unlike many other bagel spots with their lines and herd-like mentality, I paid for my food after I'd eaten.
Coffee talk: Orange & Scarlett's flies in the face of corporate megaliths Starbucks and Caribou just around the corner by offering "La Selva," a fare trade coffee Martinez-Obregon gets from a co-op. The regular house blend goes for $1.40-$2.20, and a cafe au lait chico (small) with steamed milk is $1.69.
Who to take? If you're looking to escape the high dessert prices at other Midtown eateries, check out the ice cream and confections offered under Scarlett's umbrella. The Juniper Rush (a warm brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and shot of espresso, $4.99) may well refer to what people will be doing to get to Scarlett's once they hear about it.