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Brunching at B Too

9 Dec

Rachel and I have always been fans of Belga Café, Bart Vandaele’s Belgian restaurant in Barracks Row since it opened back in 2004. His second restaurant, B Too, is located on 14th Street and offers a more modern take on the original both in regards to the food and décor. With both kids in tow, we made our way down to the District for Sunday morning brunch.

While we love Belga Café’s intimacy, it’s a bit tight when you’re arriving with a stroller and carseat. B Too, on the other hand, is much more spacious as we had no problem navigating the dining room with our five-month-old in the Snap n’ Go (parents, you know what I’m talking about).

Green Egg McWaffle.

After reenergizing ourselves with some coffee, I decided to be a bit daring and order the Green Egg McWaffle. The waffle muffin (yes, you read that right) was stuffed with green eggs, smoked salmon, cheddar cheese, and avocado cream. Certaintly one of the more unique brunch items I’ve encountered, my adventurousness paid off in what was a very savory, satisfying entrée.

Lobster waffle

Rachel one-upped my savoriness by ordering the lobster waffle, one of their signature dishes, which featured lobster bisque, tomato, and an herb salad.

Decadent crepes.

When your brunch is that savory you need to balance it out with just as much sweet, and we did just that by capping our meal off with their decadent crepes.  The four miniature crepes were stuffed with banana, complemented with Chantilly cream, and drizzled with Nutella that nearly covered every portion of the plate. This honestly could have been a meal in itself as “decadent” would be an understatement, but it made for a fine ending to a very filling meal.

B Too is a great brunch option for those looking for options in the 14th Street corridor, and we hope to come back for dinner soon for some mussels, frites, and of course more of their amazing crepes.

B Too Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Pre-Theater Brunch at Ris

8 Aug

A few weeks ago, we had Sunday matinee tickets for The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center. Considering we were already walking around the West End, we thought we might as well take advantage of the neighborhood and get a meal before the show started at 1:30. Given the proximity to the theater as well as the appetizing menu, Ris turned out to be a great choice for a pre-theater brunch.

I tried their house-made ginger beer. Prepared with fresh ginger juice, lemon juice, and club soda, this was a perfect summer beverage. Rachel ordered a delicious mimosa with lavender and thyme.

House-made ginger beer

For our main course, I opted for a classic breakfast staple, Huevos Rancheros. A heap of fried eggs were topped over a layer of corn tortillas and served with black beans, rancheros sauce, rice, queso blanco, and chorizo. A very satisfying dish without being too heavy, I particularly enjoyed the spicy chorizo as it had a nice kick to it.

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Rachel ordered the Farmers Market Omelet. It was prepared with summer squash, carrots, mushrooms, kale, green beans, and Monterrey Jack cheese and topped with a drizzle of sour cream and scallions. The omelet was good if not a little small, but she loved all the fresh seasonal vegetables it came with. The accompanying side of was delicious, but some potatoes would have been a nice addition, too.

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We capped off our brunch with a scoop of their housemade raspberry sorbet. Topped with fresh raspberries as well as a raspberry tart, the sorbet was simply outstanding and was a great way to conclude our meal.

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Between the exceptional service and terrific food, Ris is an ideal destination for pre-theater dining. Or any type of dining for that matter.

Ris on Urbanspoon

Mother's Day Brunch at Ripple

3 Jun

One of my biggest pet peeves about Mother’s Day is that it gives restaurants an opportunity to offer patrons an overpriced prix fixe brunch menu, making what would be an affordable Sunday meal suddenly more expensive. Thankfully, Ripple decided to stay the course and offer their entire menu a la carte, just like every other Sunday the restaurant serves brunch (in fact, they just started offering brunch only a few weeks ago).

Considering that we have wanted to try Ripple for quite some time, it was the ideal place for Mother’s Day brunch, especially since this was Rachel’s first time celebrating the holiday after giving birth to our son last September.

Do yourself a favor and be sure to order a skillet of their homemade cinnamon rolls. Pastry chef Alison Reed does wonders with this breakfast pastry as the moist, gooey rolls were delivered piping hot out of the oven right to our table.

Cinnamon rolls

Whenever there’s some sort of hash dish on the menu, it’s more than likely that I’ll order it, so it should come as no surprise that I went with the smoked hash. It featured chunks of locally-sourced pastrami, potatoes, and onions, and is then topped with a pair of farm-fresh sunny side up eggs. I loved every bite as I spread the creamy egg yolk over the tender pastrami.

Smoked hash

Rachel ordered the Sally’s Bennie, which was essentially a regionalized version of Eggs Benedict featuring Maryland blue crab. Served atop a homemade English muffin, the mountain of crab, eggs, and hollandaise amounted to a great brunch entrée.

Sally's Bennie

What really stood out, however, was the outstanding service. To begin with, the hostess was very apologetic about our table not being ready in time (we had a reservation) as the previous party was taking their time. The second instance was when Rachel, having only taken a few sips out of her cocktail, got in arm’s reach of our very curious baby and inadvertently spilled her entire drink. Our waitress quickly came over, cleaned it up, and brought Rachel a new one without charge.

We had a very positive experience at Ripple. Not only did we appreciate that they offered brunch a la carte when every other restaurant was charging an arm and a leg, but the food and service was excellent. The prices were also very reasonable given the high quality of the ingredients used by executive chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley. We can’t wait to return and try dinner there one of these days. Oh, and their grilled cheese bar, too. Yes, they do in fact have a grilled cheese bar.

Ripple on Urbanspoon

Bottomless Brunch at Zengo

14 Nov

A few weeks ago, Rachel and I had the pleasure of trying out Zengo’s new bottomless brunch. Offered both Saturday and Sunday from 11:30am to 2:30pm, diners get to indulge in a variety of Latin-Asian fusion dishes from Chef-Owner Richard Sandoval and Chef de Cuisine Graham Bartlett. Oh, and of course it’s not a bottomless brunch without endless brunch cocktails.

And just like Sandoval’s sister restaurant, Masa 14, the price tag of endless small plates and libations comes out to a reasonable $35 per person.

With nearly two dozen plates to choose from as well as a handful of brunch cocktails, Zengo’s brunch is ideal for groups so that diners can sample the entire menu.

Mimosas

Considering it was just the two of us on Sunday, we tried our best to order the dishes that sounded the most appealing without having to roll us out of the restaurant. With that said, we started brunch with a pair of mimosas – traditional and passion fruit.

Bay Scallop Ceviche  and Ceviche Dorado

Our first dishes were a duo of ceviches. The Bay Scallop Ceviche was comprised of Thai chile, avocado, peanut, mint, and crispy shallots while the Ceviche Dorado, our favorite of the two, featured mahi mahi, aji panca, kimchee, cucumber, and cantaloupe.

Angry Zengo Roll

And while sushi isn’t typically considered brunch fare, Zengo whips up an excellent spicy tuna roll, dubbed the Angry Zengo Roll. Made with wasabi, avocado, cucumber, and sesame chipotle rouille, it was an enjoyable plate of maki.

Short rib hash

One of the day’s highlights (at least for me) was the short rib hash, made with poached eggs, yucca, poblano rajas, and caramelized onion.

Salmon benedict

Up next was a salmon benedict, made with poached egg, ciabatta, kimchee, chili, and hollandaise.

Bacon and scrambled egg steamed buns

 

One of our favorite dishes was the bacon and scrambled egg steamed buns. Topped with Oaxaca and salsa verde, the buns were delightfully soft and subtly sweet.

Lobster grits

Perhaps the richest item of the day wasn’t even a small plate, but a side dish.  Regardless, the lobster grits are a must-order. And don’t let the title fool you – it was more of a lobster bisque given how thick and creamy it was.  Still, it was a hit nonetheless.

Peking Duck Chilaquiles

Next was the Peking Duck Chilaquiles. One of the more interesting concoctions of the day, it was comprised of fried egg, pickled onion. guajillo salsa, cotijacrem, and corn tortillas.  If you’re nursing a hangover, this is probably a dish you’d want to order.

Shrimp-vegetable pot stickers

The shrimp-vegetable pot stickers, accompanied with chile-dashi sauce, were a nice way to close out the main portion of the meal.

Churros with Mexican hot chocolate

As for dessert, we thought the churros were excellent. Served with a side of Mexican hot chocolate and artfully presented, the rich, slightly spicy chocolate sauce complemented the crispy quartet of churros.

Given the $35 price tag, it’s a value-packed brunch when you consider the unlimited small plates and beverages. Dishes did come out in waves, so be prepared when your table receives a multitude of items at once as it can get slightly overwhelming.

Overall, we really enjoyed what Zengo had to offer. Not only was the service excellent, but it’s also incredibly convenient given that Zengo sits atop the Gallery Place Metro. If you’re looking for a good group outing for bunch, Zengo is a solid choice.

Zengo on Urbanspoon

Brunch at Black Market Bistro

30 Aug

Last week we met up with a few friends for Sunday brunch at Black Market Bistro. Situated in the quaint neighborhood of Garrett Park, it is housed in the same building as the town’s post office.

It turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon, so we decided to dine on the Victorian-style house’s patio. While it is one of the many restaurants under the Black Restaurant Group, Black Market Bistro carries a certain charm given the surrounding area. Instead of being surrounded by busy streets or tall buildings, the picturesque homes and green lawns give off an old-fashioned vibe.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Black Market Bistro’s brunch menu keeps things simple, offering a handful of appetizers and entrees. I decided to go with the traditional buttermilk pancakes. Served with a side of fresh fruit, Chantilly cream, and maple syrup, the pancakes were light and fluffy.

Orange and vanilla bean French toast

Rachel ordered the orange and vanilla bean French toast. Served with the same set of sides as my pancakes, the French toast was moist and fluffy while the hint of vanilla and orange made it one of the best French toast dishes she’s had in some time.

Black Market Bistro is a terrific brunch spot, especially out on the patio during these last few weeks of summer. The prices are reasonable (both our dishes were $12 each) and the service was very good. Considering that dinner entrees are nearly twice as much, brunch at Black Market Bistro is an exceptional value.

Black Market Bistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday Brunch at Woodberry Kitchen

14 Aug

Last weekend, Rachel and I went up to Baltimore for the day and headed up to Woodberry Kitchen for Saturday brunch. We have always wanted to dine at one of Baltimore’s finest establishments, so brunch was an affordable way to introduce ourselves to Chef Spike Gjerde’s cuisine.

Of course, getting to this restaurant isn’t the easiest of tasks as it’s tucked away in a 19th century foundry in the Hampden neighborhood. Good thing we had a GPS, otherwise we would have easily gotten lost trying to find the place. Complimentary valet parking is provided, and after quickly surveying the narrow road for street parking, it’s probably your best bet.

Once stepping inside, the rustic interior and friendly staff reminds you why Baltimore is nicknamed Charm City: Woodberry Kitchen simply oozes it. Just a few steps from our table was an enormous grandfather clock sitting adjacent to a shelf housing all sort of pickled items in glass jars.

Tilghman Island Crab Pot

We started the meal off with French press coffee for the entire table while Rachel got a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice. On top of that, we ordered the Tilghman Island Crab Pot to split amongst the four of us. The restaurant’s rendition of crab dib, it was prepared with lump crabmeat, cream cheese, and sherry poured on top and accompanied with a variety of toast points. As anticipated, it was a very savory appetizer. Rich and creamy, the pot was scraped clean by our party (okay, maybe just me).

Morning Flatbread

For our entrees, I ordered the Morning Flatbread. This morning’s rendition featured potato, Hawks Hill cheddar, farm egg, and some of the most delicious barbecue pork shoulder I have ever come across. I’ve been to countless BBQ places across the country, but the tender pork found on this flatbread was without a doubt some of the best. Spreading the egg yolk across the flatbread gave the dish a nice consistency, and it was especially hard to put the fork down if one of the slices featured a piece of succulent pork atop it.

Egg in a Hole

Rachel ordered the Egg in a Hole, which was essentially Pullman toast with a circle cut out and an egg cooked inside, served with heirloom tomatoes, squash and their blossoms, and rocket. The dish is served best with the egg runny, and even though Rachel couldn’t have it that way since we still have a bun in the oven, she loved the rich buttery toast and the accompanying vegetables which were fresh and tasted like they were just picked from the garden.

Brunch at Woodberry Kitchen was a fantastic experience – between the excellent food and service, we would love to return for dinner down the road. And if that pork shoulder is listed on the menu on our next visit, it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will be ordering it.

Woodberry Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Dim Sum Brunch at The Source

19 Jul

This was one of our most-anticipated brunches in quite some time. Not only was it the first time that we would be dining at The Source, but we postponed our original reservation for six weeks because of our busy schedules. And because The Source only offers its dim sum brunch on Saturdays, I was literally counting down the weeks until the date finally arrived. Why? Well, this is no ordinary brunch.

Chive Dumpling

Wolfgang Puck’s DC establishment features the renowned cooking of executive chef Scott Drewno. While dinner at The Source is very expensive, their brunch, which was launched a little over a year ago, is rather affordable. For $32, you have a choice of five tastes from nearly 30 small plates. For an additional $10, you can choose eight plates instead of five. The latter option is ideal for parties of two, and that’s what Rachel and I decided on.

The only problem was figuring out what to order – there were a lot of appealing dishes to choose from! Considering that the two of us are one of the most indecisive couples on the planet, we finally agreed on eight tastes.

Chow Feung

Our first dish of the day was the Chow Feung. Featuring thick yet delicate noodles and spicy rock shrimp in a sweet soy sauce, it became an instant favorite. But as we kept trying to finish the noodles off with our chopsticks, our other plates soon began to arrive.

Shanghai Noodles

Up next was the Shanghai Noodles, which was comprised of braised oxtail, curry, and chili. It was a hearty, satisfying portion of noodles with just the right amount of kick to it.

Sea Scallop Sui Mai

Of course, it’s not dim sum without dumplings, and we certainly had our fair share of those during brunch. First up was the Sea Scallop Sui Mai. Gorgeously presented, it was sitting atop a few tablespoons of curried lobster emulsion.

"Szechuan Dan Dan" dumpling

Next was the “Szechuan Dan Dan” dumpling, which was comprised of organic chicken and a very addictive peanut sauce.

Garlic Littleneck Clams

After some heavy dishes, things lightened up a bit with the Garlic Littleneck Clams. Prepared with cilantro and sambal, the clams were sitting on a bed of delicious cellophane noodles.

Duck bao buns

Of course, I had more than enough room for the restaurant’s trademark duck bao buns.  Stuffed with crispy, succulent duck that’s lacquered overnight, the buns were simply fantastic – a must-order dish.

Pork Belly Pot Stickers

Moving onto our seventh taste, we opted for Pork Belly Pot Stickers. I mean, it’s not brunch without pork belly, am I right?

Maine Lobster Club

Just as we were ready to cry out uncle, out comes our final taste of the day – the Maine Lobster Club. This could nearly be an entree in itself, what with the chunks of lobster sandwiched between two delightfully satisfying slices of walnut bread. Oh, and did we mention the bacon vinaigrette? Unfortunately, we were so full that we were only able to eat a few bites and had to get the rest wrapped up. Let me reiterate, despite the fact each dish is called a “taste”, these plates are generously portioned.

Turnip Cakes

Just as we were tapping out and entering a food coma, out comes Chef Drewno himself! He mentioned how his travels to China inspired him to launch the dim sum brunch and that he has been continuously adding dishes to the menu while making the typeface smaller. Gotta love that.

Dim sum brunch at The Source was hands down one of our favorite brunch experiences throughout the entire Washington area. Between the quality of the food, the size of the portions, and the price you’re paying, it’s an incredible value, especially when you compare it to how much you would spend on dinner at the very same restaurant. Rachel and I would go back in a heartbeat not only because there are so many more dishes to try, but also because the food was just so damn enjoyable. If you want to try Chef Drewno’s cooking without breaking the bank, we cannot recommend The Source enough.

The Source on Urbanspoon

Brunch at 9 Restaurant NYC

13 Mar

In early March, Brett and I had a wonderful weekend in New York City to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We had some amazing food (more on that to come), but I thought I’d start our trip recap with one of the more casual and fun places that we went to. We were looking for a place to go for brunch on Saturday that was near our hotel, affordable, and had a good number of options to choose from. Our friends suggested 9 Restaurant NYC in Hell’s Kitchen, so off we went.

Upon checking in on FourSquare, Brett noticed a deal for a free glass of sangria (score!). Not a bad way to start our morning. Looking over the menu, several items sounded appealing, but the one I kept coming back to and couldn’t resist was dubbed The King French Toast. It was essentially a large piece of French toast topped with peanut butter, banana, maple syrup, and bacon. Just what Elvis would have ordered. I couldn’t resist trying it, partly out of curiosity and but also because I love the combination of peanut butter and bananas. Plus, bacon and maple syrup could only make it better!

The King French Toast

Well, let’s just say I made the right choice since Brett and our friends were eying my meal and looking rather envious that they hadn’t ordered it as well. When it arrived, the French toast looked more like a piece of cake than its traditional appearance as it was one very tall piece of bread. Also, the way the bacon was assembled on top made it look like a crown fit for a king. Once I broke into it and ate it all together, all the ingredients added up to a perfect bite.

Seared eggs and short rib mushroom hash

Brett ordered the seared eggs and short rib mushroom hash. While it wasn’t a bad dish, it could not hold a candle to the Wagyu corned beef hash he had at Bluestem in Kansas City last fall. 9’s rendition was more on the bland side and was lacking flavor. Again, if it wasn’t for Bluestem’s excellent preparation, he probably would have enjoyed this dish more.

Lobster Hot Dogs

While I admit that I was skeptical at first, The King French Toast at 9 is definitely an amazing dish that I would recommend the next time you’re in New York and looking for a good brunch spot. I was happy with my choice and it reminded me to be more adventurous when eating out and to not always go with standard eggs and potatoes fare. I’m fairly certain the “create your own omelet” would not have been nearly as fun as my breakfast that morning.

9 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Brunch at Local 16

12 Jan

When one thinks of Local 16, their bar scene instantly comes to mind, specifically their rooftop terrace in the summertime. We haven’t been in years (mostly because it is typically too crowded), but an offer from The Capitol Deal a few months ago piqued our interest: $15 for a brunch entrée as well as bottomless mimosas or Bloody Mary’s.

At first, we honestly had no idea that they served brunch, but after doing some digging, it turns out that Local 16 was also home to DC pizzaiolo Edan MacQuaid, formerly of local pizzerias 2 Amy’s and Pizzeria Orso. Evidently Local 16 was MacQuaid’s new residence and that his pizzas were receiving some rather high acclaim.

Aden Pizza

While the brunch menu offered typical fare such as Eggs Benedict, pancakes, and French toast, both Rachel and I opted for one of their pizzas instead. I ordered the Aden, which included house made sausage, piquillo peppers, caramelized onions, fennel, and mozzarella. The chewy crust had a nice char to it while the peppers added some spice to the dish. I particularly liked the sausage as it had a very pronounced flavor and blended well with the caramelized onions.

Rachel went with the Garfield, which featured tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan. Local 16 sources their produce from Whipple Farm in Virginia, so it’s no wonder that the cherry tomatoes were delightfully rich in flavor.

Garfield Pizza

And how we could not mention the bottomless pitchers of mimosas? Local 16 kept the libations flowing throughout our meal, even well after we finished our pizzas. Even better – they weren’t gradually diluting the beverages after each pitcher, something we’ve experienced at other restaurants offering unlimited drinks.

For $15, it was an excellent deal. The pizzas alone will cost you $12 a la carte while glasses of mimosas and Bloody Mary’s are $3 and $5 each, respectively. The funny thing is that it had turned out we didn’t even need to buy The Capitol Deal voucher as Local 16 offers the brunch special year-round as long as you are a fan of their Facebook page. Good to know for next time, obviously. Just be sure to make a reservation as they do book up for this special.

Coincidentally, Don Rockwell recently announced that MacQuaid will be partnering up with one of Local 16’s owners to open his very own pizzeria on 1832 14th Street NW. The menu will feature a handful of wood-fired oven pizzas as well as some other dishes. No projected opening date as of yet, but rest assured, we’ll gladly keep our eyes peeled on it.

Local 16 on Urbanspoon

Brunch at Napoleon

19 Dec

While I had never been to Napoleon since it opened in Adams Morgan several years ago, I have now been for brunch twice in the last few weeks. I can now say that it is a great place to catch up with a close friend as well as a fun gathering with a group of girlfriends.

Walking into the restaurant, it definitely has a fun and classy vibe, with the red and black walls, chandeliers, disco ball hanging from the ceiling, and French music playing in the background. I was told that this place is known for fun coffee drinks, champagne cocktails, and of course, croissants, crepes, and Croque Monsieur.

Blood Orange Mimosa

The first time I went with my friend Livya, she insisted I share the chocolate croissant with her, and what a great decision that was! Buttery, flaky, and with just the right amount of chocolate inside, it tasted like something straight out of Paris.

We then chose from some of the decadent-sounding coffee drinks, and I went with the mocha cappuccino while Livya ordered the French vanilla latte. And what would brunch be without mimosas? We got the blood orange mimosa with Sicilian blood orange juice and prosecco. If the drinks were any indication of how the food would be, then this was a good start.

Bolivar

For my entrée, I ordered the Bolivar, which consisted of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs rolled into two crepes and topped with a citrus caper sour cream. I loved the lightness of the crepes, and the fact that they were filled with salmon and eggs made for a great bite, especially with the cream on top. I generally avoid filling up on potatoes during brunch, but these were too good to resist.

As I mentioned, I didn’t have to wait too long, as a group of us went again and warmed up from the cold this past Sunday. Again I got the blood orange mimosa, as well as the tropical green tea that came in a nice individual pot. I wanted to try something different this time, and was torn between one of the crepes or getting a benedict. In the end, I went with the smoked salmon Benedict, and was very happy with my choice.

Smoked Salmon Benedict

The portions of smoked salmon beneath the nicely poached eggs were generous, and with those lovely potatoes it was just a satisfying dish all around.

Napoleon may also be known as a champagne bar at night and a fun lounge in Adams Morgan, but I would highly recommend it as a great brunch option that won’t break the bank but will make you feel like you’re in a Parisian cafe in downtown DC.

Napoleon on Urbanspoon