[This Hole-In-the-Wall Life] Working-Class Crepes at Eurostation at the Block at Orange
You Piece of Crepe!
I can't tell you how long EUROSTATION has been open because the last time I visited the Block at Orange for non-AMC 30/Virgin Megastore/Borders reasons was before 9/11. There never was a reason to visit this open-air mall, a depository for lower-rung chains appealing mostly to Central County's teen set and a graveyard for dozens of restaurant concepts (Cajun, Argentine, even a Wolfgang Puck café) that were too highbrow for its location. So what the hell is Eurostation doing here? Don't ponder this question too long—there's grub to be had.
Eurostation is a franchise chain with just two outposts—Los Angeles' Howard Hughes Center and the Block. It specializes in—of all things!—waffles, specifically the Belgian variety. "Eurostations waffles are the next big thing in the snack-food industry," its company website enthuses, and it's okay to chortle at the hyperbole. But when you bite into the Liege waffle, a specialty of eastern Belgium, you'll think they might be onto something. Unlike the cardboard served at IHOP, a Liege waffle is puffy, sweet, almost caramelized due to a dusting of melted nib sugar (exactly what it sounds like: nibs of sugar) applied throughout its ridges. I'd never had a Liege waffle until Eurostation, and there are only two Belgian restaurants in Orange County, so this Liege treasure is rare—one of the best local desserts right now. You can order toppings such as fruit and ice cream, but the best is the Thalys waffle: a Liege smeared with a chocolate spread, then sprinkled with diced almonds.
Not everything at Eurostation is worth your attention, however. The paninis, while almost as large as hoagies, are merely passable and too expensive. I always hear raves about Belgian fries, but the four times I've had them stateside have left me wanting—and, with Eurostation's by-the-fryer take, make it a fifth (although do ask for to-go thimbles of any of their 32 dipping sauces—best is the Irish curry, a strange-but-viable mix of sweet and zingy, and a peppercorn sauce with honest-to-goodness peppercorns ready to shatter in your molars). Much more justifiable are the crepes—not the classy, Frenchified takes of La Creperie, but bloated, messy, brilliant mounds owing more to their Mexican cooks than any claimed French heritage. Consider the Philly-cheesesteak version: meat, cheese and bell peppers barely contained within a soft, yeasty crepe covering. There's a little more nuance in the grilled-chicken crepe—the spinach and tomatoes are farmers'-market fresh, while the plump chicken bites remind you why the fowl is such a popular, universal meat—but Eurostation's soul is in those fraudulent crepes, the ones that care more about satiating your appetite than about classiness. Laugh at the idea of a pepperoni-pizza crepe, if you must—your tastebuds won't.
Eurostation at the Block, 20 The City Blvd. W., Ste. 903, Orange, (714) 385-1260.
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