The old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is unequivocally wrong. Brunch is the king of meals and we should eat brunch more often than on any given Sunday, Mothers’ day and Easter. In fact, we should probably eat brunch two, or even three, times a day; bacon, scrambled eggs and Mimosas for AM brunch, honey-baked ham, potatoes au gratin and Bloody Marys for PM brunch, and if you’re still feeling peckish, a pastry, some cut-up fruit and a Fizz Ramos for supper brunch.
I kid. I don’t advocate having champagne, vodka and gin all in the same day; substitute whatever cocktails you like.
In D.C. I treated myself to two brunches that rank in the upper echelon of the World Brunch Order.
The first place we went was the Tabard Inn. This old hotel just off Dupont Circle opened in 1922 and captures that old charm. It has a wonderful waiting area with comfortable couches and a roaring fireplace. We were sat in one of their many dining rooms and promptly ordered their house-made doughnuts. They were rich and satisfying–but they can ruin your meal if you get carried away.
I ordered the poached egg over cheesy grits with fried oysters, confit pork belly and hollandaise. I was really excited to get my meal but I have to admit, the grits were a wee bland. Luckily, the pork belly bits hoisted the whole dish over their greasy shoulders and carried me home. (Though, I do believe you could serve Play-Doh Alfredo with confit pork belly and receive a Michelin star.)
The service was friendly, the portions fair and the price within budget. Everything was comfortable and needed just a pinch of salt.
The second place we went to the following week was Birch and Barley near Logan Circle. This place was killer. Upstairs they have their bar with a whole wall of taps. Downstairs houses their large dining room. Here they offer a number of Bloody Marys and Bloody Mary-inspired cocktails as well as a few other classic brunch drinks. In fact, if you order their Boozy Brunch, you get two cocktails with your entree and three of their house-made doughnut holes. Two words: bacon doughnut. It’s a thing and they do it really well.
You have to be careful with these little guys, too. Three doughnut holes is like eating a whole doughnut, and considering that I ordered the chicken and waffles, that is a ton of breakfast. This was my first time with chicken and waffles, but since I was technically in the South, I figured I had to get while the gettin’ was delicious.
This dish blew my mind apart. I love the collision of sweet and salty as embodied by syrup and fried. The buttered pecans were exquisite and the residual syrup was a nice treat for when I licked the plate clean. No matter what your scale, Birch and Barley earned full marks for atmosphere, service, food and drink. Besides, all of this for thirty bucks plus tax and tip? Unbeatable.
What other places in D.C. can go toe to toe with these two establishments? I will be back and I will heed your words so let me hear them!
[manhattan photo courtesy of http://fivej.wordpress.com/%5D
[cheesy grits photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com // I was too hungry and forgot to take my own picture, nom nom nom.]