Viva Lemont — Orange 13 Lounge

October 2012 View more

NMAG1012_TableForTwo_1 With its vibrant leaves and proliferating pumpkins, October may be a natural time to be thinking of the color orange. As those gentle autumn breezes begin to morph from seasonally brisk to ominously frigid, a trip to a warm-weather desert playground like Las Vegas may be another natural inclination at this time of the year. Put those two trains of thought on the same track, and Orange 13 Lounge may seem like a perfect compromise for a night on the town.

Yet knee-jerk skepticism likely greets the notion of a Vegas-style lounge in Lemont. One would be hard-pressed, after all, to name which of the high-profile nightclubs on the Strip is situated in a nondescript shopping plaza between a Polish market and a foot-and-ankle clinic. But when it comes to conjuring that Sin City vibe as something of a novel alternative in the western suburbs, Orange 13 may nevertheless be sitting on a winner.

Meet and Potatoes

Psychologists consider the color orange to be one of energy and appetite, and true to its name, Orange 13 aims to satisfy on both counts. Beyond some flashy staff neckware and a few mostly understated light fixtures throughout the room, the hue itself actually doesn’t figure into the proceedings as much as one might expect given its prominence on the marquee. But the attention to its psychological underpinnings manifests itself both on the menu and in the attitude.

NMAG1012_TableForTwo_3Emphasizing the lounge aspect of the endeavor, the compact loft-ceilinged room is anchored by a large bar area at its center, with another scaled-down version along a facing wall. Seating areas vary from intimate, chandelier-lit, high-back booths, to traditional dining tables, to raised areas along the walls with a handful of low-slung chairs and accompanying cocktail tables. It’s a space designed to accommodate everything from an early dinner with the in-laws, to drinks and dancing with co-workers, to a quiet rendezvous with that special someone.

Owing in equal parts to our food-focused mandate and our lack of respectable dance moves, we opted for a weeknight dinner that would wrap up long before the nightlife crowd started filing in. Fortunately, the crew at Orange 13 seems to have given as much consideration to the kitchen as the dance floor.

Thinking Small

While the menu definitely has a lounge-oriented skew, with shareable appetizers and small plates outnumbering entrées by at least a two-to-one margin, it’s hardly a problem given the numerous enticing possibilities on the slate. We started with a chunky and flavorful guacamole served in a martini glass on a plate surrounded by blue corn tortilla chips. With our eyes on a couple of entrée possibilities to come, we passed on additional starters like a mini burger trio – featuring elk, buffalo and Kobe beef sliders – catfish tacos, and an artisanal cheese plate.

NMAG1012_TableForTwo_2Instead, we turned our attention to a main course of fettuccini studded with squash, zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes, and a twelve-ounce New York strip plated between tri-color fingerling potatoes and a dish of maple-glazed, and yes, orange carrots. While the appetizers we had bypassed gave us some pause, these well-executed main dishes more than alleviated any feelings of regret. We did, however, return to the small and shareable aesthetic for dessert, with a right-sized flight of four rich and creamy mousses. The banana pudding entry was truly the standout in this quartet.

No, it hadn’t really felt like a trip to Vegas as much as just an enjoyable night out in the western burbs. But Orange 13 had at least lived up to its psychological promise in terms of both energy (more chill than thrill) and appetite – hardly a disappointing payout.

Orange 13 Lounge
14196 McCarthy Road, Lemont