Friday, June 26, 2009


It behooves the loyal Washingtonian to check out Eastern Market, which is finally reopened recently after the Fire of 2007 destroyed the landmark. Naturally there are sundry brunch locations in the area, including my favorite spot Montmartre.

Montmartre is a charming French cafe named after the Montmartre neighborhood in Paris, a place formerly home to artists, philosophers, and musicians, and now mostly inhabited by overweight tourists attempting to scale the hill to visit the Sacré-Cœur basilica.

The Parisian fare is generally excellent. In particular they make a luxurious buckwheat crepe which is served best filled with their salmon, cheese, dill, and fresh vegetables (there's also a prosciutto variety). The salmon is grilled not overcooked while the vegetables are fresh and crisp. Another highlight is their Croque Monsieur -- a grilled ham and gruyere sandwich with more cheese melted on top and served over a good dijon mustard.

Montmartre could improve their drinks. I observed their bartender mixing their bloody mary with a store-bought (Tabasco brand) mix (Quelle horreur!), their coffee was middling, and their orange juice was from concentrate and had too much ice. Nonetheless the quality of their food outweighs their beverage shortcomings.

One point of confusion though: There are no photos of Montmartre in the place. How can you name your French restaurant "Montmartre" and not have any photos of it? A mystery.

Contact Information after the jump. Continue reading.

327 7th St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 544-1244.

View Larger Map

Monday, June 15, 2009

Napoleon Bistro

I have displayed a fondness for French restaurants here at Brunch DC, and Napoleon Bistro is no exception. Complete with waitresses with (possibly fake) French accents, a large menu of generally delicious French brunch dishes, and a charming French bistro atmosphere and decor (including an outdoor seating area), Napoleon is an excellent choice.

The menu comes with a variety of omelets, crepes, salads, and other brunch entrees. They also have a large assortment of coffee-based beverages and the brunch-associated alcoholic choices like the bloody mary and the mimosa. While the food is good, whoever wrote the menu perhaps thought a little too much about their creations. The "Da Vinci" omelet of ham and cheese is labeled "A dream come true" while the Michelangelo omelet of salmon, scallions, and cream cheese, is modestly described as "A Masterpiece."

For starters, they offer an interesting bread basket for $5. While this should be free, it does contain a pretty interesting and extensive assortment of breads with jam and butter. The walnut raisin and the Pain au levain (a sourdough French bread) were the highlights. The jam was not homemade, but was a decent variety. Ideally, this would be free, but I suppose $5 is not too much for very good bread.

On the omelet side, the "Rembrandt" of brie, fresh parsley and sun dried tomatoes is a highlight. Even though it apparently does not warrant an over-the-top epthitet on the menu like some of the other omelets, it stands out nonetheless. The omelet itself is perfectly done without any imperfections or burn marks. The cheese is nice and creamy, and the vegetables are fresh. It also comes with a side of potatoes and a skewer of fresh fruit (an interesting presentation).

The crepes are also good choices. Incidently, one of the better ones is far more an Italian dish than a French one -- the Florentine, consisting of roma tomatoes, ricotta cheese, pine nuts, and basil in a roasted garlic pesto sauce. The soft cheese complements the toasted pine nuts well. And they don't stiff you on the portion size either, as this dish comes with two side-by-side crepes. The other crepe highlight is the "Lisbon" which had smoked salmon, red onions, dill and cream cheese. This crepe was cut into four triangular pieces and was a very pleasant and refreshing dish -- much better than other crepe with salmon, the "Bolivar" (salmon, scrambled eggs, with a citrus-caper sour cream sause), which was too heavy.

The wait staff was unfortunately fairly pushy, particularly with the bloody marys and mimosas. They also have (possibly fake?) French accents -- maybe I'm completely off-base here and if so I apologize -- but they sounded fake. The coffee, whose awesomeness was heavily touted on the menu, was merely mediocre and not hot enough. Other than these small imperfections, Napoleon Bistro is a solid choice.

Contact information after the jump. Continue reading.

Napoleon Bistro
1847 Columbia Road NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 299-9630 (N.B. An annoyingly animated website)

View Larger Map

Friday, June 5, 2009

Beyond the Beltway: White Dog and Marathon Grill in Philadelphia

(Ed. Note: Last weekend I visited some friends up in the City of Brotherly Love; naturally we had to sample the local brunch cuisine.)

Two mainstays near the campus of the University of Pennsylvania are the White Dog Cafe and the Marathon Grill. Both are situated within walking distance from the UPenn campus and serve respectable American food.

White Dog is located in Victorian brownstones and also features a pleasant outdoor seating area. The brunch menu features a bounty of both smaller appetizers and brunch "entrees." For starters they serve a delightful artisan cheese plate consisting of locally produced blue, cheddar, and chevre cheeses along with walnuts, organic jam, honey, and crusty bread. The cheeses themselves weren't particularly gourmet varieties, but they were savory -- the blue cheese with jam was especially sumptuous.

As for the larger dishes, the omelettes were nicely prepared and came with both potatoes and a salad -- which is a nice touch. The Mediterranean Omelette with kalamata olives, roasted peppers, feta cheese, and tomatoes was a delectable combination; though the side greek salad, which consisted of essentially the same olives, peppers, and cheese (and cucumbers instead of tomatoes) that were in the omelette, was a strangely repetitive choice, but I was not unhappy with the decision.

The pancakes were also a good dish. They were topped with caramelized bananas, toasted macadamia nuts, cinnamon mascarpone, and maple syrup. This was a decadant combination on top of fluffy pancakes.

The coffee was, unfortunately, horrible. Other than that, White Dog lived up to expectations. Reasonably priced as well. (P.S. It also has an excellent bar, with a collection of local brews).

Marathon Grill is nearby and it also offers a cornucopia of brunch options. The large menu features ten different omelettes, five benedicts, and sundry other brunch entrees.

While the variety was appreciated, the food was not quite as good as our experience at White Dog. The omelette was a little overdone -- not the perfectly prepared version we were served at White Dog. (Note the brown burn marks on the omelette here, compared to the absence of them at White Dog, above). Perfectly adequate fillings, though, I had the chorizo, manchego, and pica de gallo variety. The salmon eggs benedict was good, but not fantastic. The parfait was a disappointment. It was supposed to be served with "fresh fruit" but instead came with an ordinary fruit salad consisting largely of honeydew melon. The yogurt and granola were pedestrian.

As for the sides, the potatoes were on the dry side, and the toast was served with an all-too-casual butter and jam packet that they probably bought at the Fresh Grocer across the street. Similarly, the coffee was served with half-and-half containers and bizarre wooden stirrers instead of a spoon.

The food at Marathon was not bad, but White Dog wins my Beyond the Beltway: Philadelphia award.

Contact information after the jump. Continue reading.

White Dog Cafe
3420 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 386-9224

Marathon Grill
16th & Samsom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 569-3278