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Now Arriving: Brunch Classics at Pasadena's La Grande Orange

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It's a 9-5, M-F world, which makes elegant brunching a weekend necessity. It also makes it hard to get food bloggers together on a work-week morning, which is why Pasadena's La Grande Orange opted to use a little poetic license and woo us into their historic locale eatery to serve us brunch on a Wednesday night.

La Grande Orange is an Arizona-based collection of eateries, with outposts here in Pasadena inside a restored 1935 train station, and one on the verge of opening in Santa Monica. The idea behind the restaurant is to bring people together for good times to enjoy "American comfort food [transformed] into healthy classics with a modern point of view." Eager to indulge in lazy Sunday treats after a workday, LAist joined other local bloggers like EstarLA, Caroline on Crack, ShopEatSleep, and more, for a sampling of brunch items courtesy of LGO.

First order of business was to get a taste of their brunch libations. On offer were a Bloody Mary, a Mimosa, a White Sangria, and a Bellini. The bellini called, and provided a crisp and fruity start to the meal. Also pitching in to get things off on a decadent start was a tray of deviled eggs that come with a "side" of bacon bits, so you can sprinkle your suitable amount of pork fat onto the tangy tops of the tasty little bites. To take things over the edge, a basket of LGO's housemade cinnamon rolls appeared; you can dare yourself to eat one, then soon realize it's really a dare not to eat the whole thing!

For the entree--a funny thing to call a breakfast dish, but we were breaking all the rules already--the table's consensus was to divide and conquer. There's honor among thieves, and more often than not, the willingness to share among fellow bloggers. Highlights included the protein-powered Daybreaker, the pleasantly tart and light Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes, and the Eggs Benedict (with perky poached eggs drenched in a brown mustard Hollandaise atop LGO's homemade English Muffins). Other choices include a breakfast sammie, Huevos Rancheros, and the Malted Buttermilk Waffle. All of their Breakfast "entrees" are $10-$14. Because LGO knows how to spoil their guests, baskets of waffles, with their delectable lemon butter and fresh fruit toppings, were included at our table so we could further engage our tastebuds.

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Since breakfast isn't breakfast without coffee, Irish Coffees with sides of whipped cream were ordered up and happily sipped on, adding that certain je-ne-sais-quoi to the meal. Well, we know what it was: booze. Delish!

Not to be outdone, and perhaps just to bend the rules of breakfasting just a wee bit more, we had the opportunity to sample items from their tantalizing dessert menu. But even the best bruncher can only take so much... If you've got to prioritize your sampling, it's best to go with what you love, followed by what others endorse, which is how I know their Key Lime Pie is beyond divine (perfect blend of tart-sweet, a light but rich whipped cream topping, and an oh-so-buttery graham cracker crust) and that they bring in some incredibly delicious sorbets and ice creams, including ones flavored Cucumber and Lavender.

What's so nice about LGO, hospitality aside, are the little touches that make going there memorable, like their award-winning restoration of the train station (things like the light fixtures are all original), the plate of cookies by the front door up for grabs, and the fact that, as a former train depot, they are fittingly situated right at the Gold Line's Del Mar Station. Although you can't turn your nighttime visit into a "brinner" as ours, you can still head to Pasadena for brunch, and soon do the same in Santa Monica.

La Grande Orange Cafe
260 S. Raymond Ave, Pasadena
(626) 356-4444