On Orange: A new restaurant with some old favorites

The downstairs dining room at On Orange. (Blaine T. Shahan)

"Tweaking" is defined by Webster's dictionary as "to make usually small adjustments in or to."

In some ways, that applies to On Orange. In some ways, it does not. Tweaking melds comfortably with tradition at this downtown café, which opened last October at 108 W. Orange St.

If the address sounds familiar, it should. On Orange used to be Wish You Were Here, a longtime local favorite known for its hearty fare and, most notably, for its Swedish oatmeal pancakes.

That much hasn't been tweaked. On Orange owner Melissa Watro knows not to mess with a good thing. In fact "that's everybody's first question," she says of inquiring callers curious to know if those beloved pancakes are still on the menu. Indeed they are, though Watro describes the new incarnation as "a different recipe, but very similar."

In other words, not to worry. If you loved Wish You Were Here, chances are you'll get that same cozy feeling at On Orange, which is open 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Along with those famous pancakes (variations run from $3.25 for one to $6.95 with an add-on of a waffle and vanilla ice cream), you'll find baked oatmeal ($6.95) and a nice selection of three-egg omelettes ($8.95).

But Watro is happy to encourage such On Orange specialties as the satisfying Muffuletta, a Louisiana-size New Orleans sandwich built of -- there is no other term for it -- homemade olive salad on Italian seeded bread, Genoa salami, Capicola ham and Provolone cheese. It's $9.95, and if that sounds like a big price, be assured it's a big sandwich. It comes with a crispy mixed green salad, drizzled with homemade vinaigrette, on the side.

If you like your breakfast or midday meal a little more daring, check out the Chilaquiles. That translates to tortilla chips "simmered with a spicy red chili chorizo sausage queso fresco, topped with two eggs over," as the menu states. It's $9.25, but, again, chances are, you'll leave full.

Want something closer to home? On Orange literally answers the call.

One hit item on the menu is creamed chipped beef ($6.95) served over a choice of potatoes or toast. The chipped beef comes from S. Clyde Weaver. Lancaster Countians need no further explanation.

Well, maybe a little one. Watro's partners in the business -- and her best friends, she says -- are her parents, Bob and Dawn Watro. It's Dawn's chipped beef recipe that graces the menu at On Orange. Furthering the family connection is a contribution by Watro's brother, Drew. He crafted the wood and tile-accented stools at a newly installed dining counter.

On Orange is making its name known as a breakfast and lunch spot, and a nice thing is that one can get breakfast food all day during opening hours. "People can come in at 1:30 (p.m.) and get pancakes," Watro says.

But dinner will be on the menu, though not every day.

Watro is planning to serve a prix fixe dinner menu during First Friday, the city's monthly celebration of arts and culture. For tonight's First Friday, the dinner, $29.95 and served from 6 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis, will consist of a Tuscan tomato and parmesan soup, herb-crusted beef tenderloin and a chocolate truffle torte.

Watro's guest chef for March's First Friday next month (March 4) is scheduled to be J. Scott Martino, of Cortazzo Foods & Family Marinara Sauce.

In the meantime, Watro wants On Orange to reflect her own philosophy when it comes to food.

"It's just something I love. I love food. I like to entertain (and) provide a place where people have fun."

NAME: On Orange

LOCATION: 108 W. Orange St.

HOURS: Wed.-Sun. 7 a.m.-2 p.m.

PRICE RANGE: $3.25-$9.95

CONTACT: 299-5157 or www.restaurantOnOrange.com