Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ben's Next Door

Everyone in D.C. is familiar with Ben's Chili Bowl, the U. St. landmark known primarily for its decent half-smokes, mediocre chili, long lines, and politician sightings. This past year Ben's opened up Next Door next door, an upscale bar and restaurant that serves generally delicious southern food in an attractive setting, but with bad service.

The brunch menu features a small assortment of inventive interpretations on Southern brunch cuisine. The best dishes are the half-smoke benedict and (of course) the fried chicken and waffles. The benedict features two excellent poached eggs atop english muffins with an herb hollandaise. Next to the eggs are sliced half-smokes grilled to just barely charred (for those not familiar, they are half beef, half pork sausages).

Fried chicken and waffles has become a staple in the D.C. brunch scene and Next Door's creation lives up to the standard set at Marvin and Creme. The chicken is perfectly crisp and spiced; though the waffles were fairly ordinary Belgian varieties. The maple syrup accompaniment was hot, which was a good touch.

They also serve an decent but not spectacular omelet with half-smokes, chili, and cheese. The omelet provides another medium for their best seller at the original Ben's.

While the food is generally well-prepared, all the dishes lack accompaniments -- no potatoes, salad, or fruit come with any of the dishes, which make the food look lonely on the plate.

The main detriment to Next Door is that their service is both slow and disorganized. On my last visit, they had inordinate trouble seating my party of five despite a relatively empty restaurant (they ended up moving us twice), and the food took a really long time to come out. Hopefully they will work out those problems.

Contact information after the jump. Continue reading.

Next Door
1211 U St. NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 667-8880.

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