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

View Larger Map

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with this assessment. I'm not a fan of afterwords.