Monday, September 29, 2008

Logan @ The Heights

For my first post in Columbia Heights I figured it would be appropriate for me to review a stalwart "CoHe" establishment rather than one of the new and overpriced locations in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Logan @ the Heights, from the same people who own Logan Tavern (surprise surprise), sits at one end of Tivoli square. The Heights has an enjoyable outdoor setting, its dishes are ambitious and have good plating, and the service is friendly and attentive. They also have an extensive, and complicated, bloody mary menu that allows you to pick one of many varieties of alcohol (vodka and gin), adjustable spicyness, additives such as lime juice or clam juice, and then a choice of up to three vegetables. I had one with absolute peppar, "spicy" mix, lime juice, and celery, cucumbers, and red peppers. The mix was good and fairly spicy, though I think it was a little on the thin side and had too much ice.

The food was, unfortunately, largely disappointing. We tried the French toast, the smoked salmon florentine, the crab cakes benedict, and the portobello florentine. All of these dishes were colorful and well-plated, as you can see from the photos. To our disappointment, most of the poached eggs were overcooked; strangely, in two of the three egg dishes, one of the eggs was cooked properly and the other was way overcooked. You could also easily tell that the spinach on the florentine was of the frozen variety. The smoked salmon was decent. It was thickly sliced and was about as good as what you can find around the city, though, of course not like you'd find at a New York establishment. The potatoes were pedestrian and required a substantial amount of condiments to ameliorate their dryness. The crab cakes were disappointing as well. Crab cakes should be crispy on the outside. These were soggy. They essentially drooped off the bread (see photo). Ironically, while the French toast looked the worst, it's the only dish that I'm comfortable giving a positive review to. It had a caramel pecan sauce that was ligher than expected and generally lived up to expectations.

The Heights tries hard. It just falls short in a number of critical areas. As of yet, it isn't worth making the trip to Columbia Heights.

Contact information after the jump. Continue reading.

Brunch menu [The Heights]
Bloody Mary Menu [The Heights]

Logan @ The Heights
3115 14th St. NW
Washington DC 20010
(202) 797-7227

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Brunch DC Reviews and Features

Here's a list of the restaurants I've reviewed and Brunch DC special features with links to the full posts. This page will continue to be updated as I review more restaurants and add more features to the site. If you have any suggestions for restaurants to review or special features to add, feel free to email me at brunchdc [at] gmail [dot] com.

I have marked all of the restaurants with (*), (**), (***), or (****) indicating my assessment of the quality of their brunch:

Brunch Reviews:

Special Features:

Monday, September 22, 2008

La Fourchette

La Fourchette is an authentic Parisian cafe on 18th street in Adams Morgan. It serves traditional (though slightly heavy) French food (so authentic that, in true Parisian form, the place is closed for much of August, much to my chagrin). It also has a very nice outdoor seating area. La Fourchette serves, in the humble opinion of Brunch DC, the best brunch on 18th street. It had a solid selection of exquisitely prepared dishes, is not particularly expensive, and provides excellent service and atmosphere.

The menu, which is not available online, has a selection of poached egg dishes, ranging from a classic Benedict to Florentine (spinach and mornay sauce) to Béarnaise with fresh artichokes. Both the Florentine and the Béarnaise are excellent. The eggs are properly poached and runny. Both have well-made sauces and are nicely presented.

They also have a variety of omelettes, all cooked in the French style, meaning that the fillings are integrated into the eggs. I tried the Provençal, which contains a variety of fresh herbs and is covered with a tomato sauce. It comes with a side of potatoes, which are crisp and not mushy (unlike some other places on 18th street). The French toast is made on baguettes. While not Challah, this is also a good dish and rivals Meze's French toast as the best in the area. As for drinks, the bloody mary is spicy, though slightly thin. The coffee -- which they refer to as "American coffee" -- is a rich French roast.

A great experience overall, especially when the weather is good outside.

P.S. Good dinner too, and you can BYO wine.

Contact information and an image of the menu after the jump. Continue reading.

Mornay sauce [Food Network]
Béarnaise sauce [UKTV Food]

La Fourchette
2429 18th St NW
Washington D.C. 20009

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Monday, September 15, 2008


Bourbon is one of the more classy bar/restaurants on 18th street in Adams Morgan. It has a highly impressive array of upwards of 60 bourbons at any one time (recommendations (in order of preference): Black Maple Hill, W.L. Weller, Jefferson Reserve). Along with La Fourchette, Cashion's Eat Place (future post), Bourbon provides the best that Adams Morgan can offer for brunch. The menu serves a full assortment of tasty Kentucky-inspired food from corn beef hash to egg sandwiches, bourbon-flavored French toast, salads, and a variety of inventive sandwiches. Many of the dishes manage to use bourbon, and I commend Bourbon for sticking to their theme so well.

While not distinctly southern, the egg sandwiches are surprisingly good. There are a variety of options such as turkey, swiss, and avocado (my personal favorite), or you can create your own from an assortment of incredients. All of the egg sandwiches are served in bagels, which, defying the D.C. tradition, are actually pretty good. I'm not entirely sure where they get their bagels from, but they stack up favorably with the best bagels in the city (lest my readers get too excited or accuse me of forgetting my New York heritage, clearly, these are not New York bagels and shouldn't be compared to those).

Their non-breakfast sandwiches are also very good. All of the sandwiches are served with a side of bourbon baked beans that are covered in their BBQ sauce, which is made with (guess what) bourbon. Recently, I tried the "Bourbon Decker" -- sliced tenderloin marinated in Maker's Mark with smoke gouda, red onion, avocado, on grilled thick white bread. It was tender and the Maker's sauce was nicely tangy. The Bourbon chicken breast sandwich is also a solid choice, which makes more use of their bourbon-infused BBQ sauce.

The drinks they have are, unfortunately, fairly expensive as Adams Morgan goes. The bloody mary is eight dollars. Nonetheless, it is homemade and comes in a large glass with an exceptionally large celery stick. They are fairly proud of this drink, proclaiming on their menu that "written words just aren't enough" to describe it. Apparently, however, spoken words are since the waiter is happy to describe it, and also to bring it to you.

Contact information after the jump. Continue reading.

2321 18th St. NW
Washington D.C. 20009
(202) 332-0800

[N.B. They also have a location in Glover Park, but I have not been there.]

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Afterwords Cafe

(Ed. Note: This post is written by Max, author of thrifty/epicure, a blog devoted to exploring the best cheap food and drink options in D.C. The content of this review gets the full Brunch DC endorsement.)

As some of you might know, I attempt to focus my energies around DC on thrift. And so my appearance here begs the question: is brunch a "thrifty" meal? Base-level empirical observation says no: generally, people like me (that is: young, making little money in an absolute sense, but considering our life stage, plenty of money to spend on frivolous things) tend to make the lowest economic strata ofbrunchers. And really, you could consider us the "aspirational brunchers ," forever looking to graduate from the Open Cities of the world to the bright lights and exorbitant prices of Georgia Brown's. Really, can anything featured on "Stuff White People Like" be praised by a penny-pincher?

Of course, since I am a major brunch enthusiast (accompanying Brunch DC himself on several important research trips), I'm at pains to reconcile my seeming hypocrisy. I guess I'll go with this: brunch doesn't have to be an expensive meal - and on a per-calorie basis, you can do quite well for yourself. Remember as you eat those pieces of egg batter-drenched and fried pieces of brioche: you're replacing two meals! Eat brunch in the right neighborhoods, and you can combine the experience with some shopping at the local farmer's market - then go home and cook yourself a healthy and inexpensive meal at home. Hooray, you're breaking even!

With my regularly scheduled meta-digression out of the way, the point of this exercise: brunch at Afterwords, the restaurant inside Kramerbooks. Some have called it one of DC's best cheap drunk brunch options, so I was pretty excited to try it out - notwithstanding the fact that I had a somewhat less than stellar dinner date there a few months ago.

One of the major plusses of Afterwords is the location: the patio is on 19th, meaning you have a peace and quiet, while the interior of the restaurant is fun and lively, with people occassionaly spilling in from the bookstore or cafe. Of course, all of that gets negated when you get placed in the dingy, yellow-tinted mezzanine, with mismatched tables and chairs. Not only was it beautiful up there, but it was conveniently located as far from a server who would remember who we were as possible! Several times we had to get up and serve ourselves extra water/get condiments, after our server disappeared for 15 minute periods. And this after waiting 45 minutes for a table (we were told, "we have a table ready for you," when we checked in - but still had time to read the titles of every self help book in the entire section - totally awesome).

The food, while clearly being the best part of this whole experience, was still decidedly mixed. One thing I should mention up front: you get a free drink with your meal, and your second drink, should you want one more, it's only $1.50. Which, if you're looking to drink, is nice. I had a Bloody Mary, which while tasty, didn't have the kind of accouterments that I like to see in my BMs - I'd basically like a salad sticking out the top of my glass, if possible.

The food, as I said, was mixed. My omelet, with brie, tomatoes and basil, was quite tasty; fresh, light, not overly fussy or complicated, with distinct flavors. The whole wheat Belgian waffles ordered by a friend were also delicious - light like a waffle should be, but more substantial than many regular waffles. After that, the food fell off somewhat. And with five total diners, that's a lot of not-so-good food.

The Southwest omelet was both completely bland and totally devoid of textural changes; the onions and peppers had been cooked to within an inch of their lives and fell to mush almost immediately in your mouth, and the overwhelming flavor was of Jack cheese (which fails to provide a taste explosion, to be certain). The hanger steak and eggs, which I thought had a lot of promise (after all, the hanger steak is one of the most flavorful cuts of meat, a very nice contrast for eggs and potatoes), was described as "not steak-y enough." Sigh. I can't remember anything about the last dish, an eggs benedict; it obviously wasn't that memorable.

The final shock came with the check: for "one of DC's best cheap drunk brunches" I would have expected less than $20/person for meal, tax and tip - nobody even had a second drink.

Bottom line: if you can sit outside, sip your complimentary drink and people watch while eating waffles, you've got a nice brunch experience. Otherwise, maybe you ought to keep walking. Hey, Open City is only one metro stop away!

Contact information after the jump. Continue reading.

Brunch menu [Afterwards Cafe]

Afterwords Cafe
1517 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20036
(202) 232-6777

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Brunch and Football: Mezza Luna Lounge

I'm a lifelong New York Football Jets fan. Watching the Jets in Washington has proved harder than I thought, especially with the large amount of transplanted New Yorkers in this town. From what I can tell, there are only two places in the city that show the Jets game: 51st State Tavern in Foggy Bottom, and what I just discovered, Mezza Luna Lounge in Dupont (or, more accurately, the "Golden Triangle"). Mezza Luna is ordinarily an American restaurant that serves both entrees and tapas. For brunch they serve an abbrieviated menu (not online, apparently) that includes some breakfast items, like eggs, omelettes, French toast, as well as sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. They have somewhat expensive drinks -- $6 Bloody Marys, for example. They also show the Jets game on at least six televisions, and the Dallas Cowboys games when they are on. I was told that the restaurant is owned by two brothers, one's a Jets fan, the other is a Cowboys fan. However, it appears that the restaurant is more skewed towards the Cowboys: if you show up wearing Cowboys gear, you get 15% off of your check. Nothing for the Jets.

During the Jets game, the place was surprisingly empty. There were less than ten Jets fans there. As for the food, it was ordinary. We got one dish from the breakfast menu and one from the lunch menu. Neither was bad but I wouldn't go here unless you're a Jets fan. They did have an interesting looking dinner menu, but that's beyond the purview of my brunch expertise.

Contact information and photos below the fold. Continue reading.

Mezza Luna Lounge
1140 19th St. NW
Washington D.C. 20036
(202) 429-8889

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