Monday, January 24, 2011

You say "I ordered you a pancake"

Perusing our recent entries, you'd think that we only go out for brunch. While we need to play catch up (Bibiana and Blue Duck for Restaurant Week, an early January culinary scavenger hunt through the city, an an organic delivery service in Bethesda, to name a few) brunch will always have a special place in my heart - the one meal where food and relaxation can trump any other consideration.

Contributor extraordinaire Maria got married over the weekend and, with the help of a very understanding catering manager, we managed to throw an after-nuptials family brunch during Restaurant Week. The private dining room at Urbana fits 12, and during the peak of the brunch service we were grateful for the sliding doors that separate it from the main dining room (extra tables for Restaurant Week, ceramic tiles and Bottomless Bellinis generate an atmosphere that, while usually appreciated, were grating my sleep-deprived, slightly hungover self on this particular outing).

Our reservation was for 1 PM, so our group fell on both sides of the brunch divide - hamburgers and Chicken Caesar Salad for some, breakfast items for the rest of us, and coffee all around. The Bottomless Bellini (with refills all through Brunch until 3 PM) is still a steal at $16: a selection of fresh juices (favorites include passion fruit and strawberry, while the Pear is not for the faint of palate) topped with sparkling wine (an Italian Prosecco, Montelliana, with a mineral content that makes it ideal for mixing). Through years of practice (our extended neighborhood and all) Maria is particularly adept at creating creative concoctions. Tables of 4 or more get to keep the bottle table-side.

For their first brunch as a married couple, the newlyweds had classic menu items - a three egg omelette with everything minus the chorizo for the groom, and the Challah French Toast with a side of bacon for the bride who, despite her best efforts, always orders the same thing. The stomach, like the heart, wants what it wants, and Sunday was no exception. There's something about the crunch from the griddle and the acidity of the strawberry compote paired with the maple syrup that conspires to make this a great dish. As for me - I skipped the Bellinis (Botomless Cup of Coffee did the trick for me that day) and had the blueberry pancakes with bananas and a side of eggs. The eggs can come in any style but I chose scrambled, slightly runny, and doused with the hot sauce I requested. The pancakes are fantastic - fluffy, and with just a touch of blueberry. The banana slices are placed on top, and the dish could easily do without them. But at least you can use them to tell yourself you re having two servings of fruit, and conveniently forget to account for the warm maple syrup. Our server, Dana, heroically handled the sliding door and our floating head count to make this a very happy close to the festivities.

Urbana on Urbanspoon
Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar at Hotel Palomar Dupont Circle
2121 P St NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 956-6650

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sashay shante

As far as gastronomy-related performances go, Perry's Sunday Brunch is hard to beat. Brunch, my favorite meal, promises a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and exaggerates certain characteristics with a flourish - breakfast in drag, and at a much more convenient hour. While Perry's is a destination for groups of revelers, T. and I decided to give it the Any Given Sunday treatment and just showed up at their recommended hour of 11.45 AM. Perry's does not take reservation, and your arrival time is noted by the hostess. You are welcome to wait at the very crowded bar (where we were treated to a dancing father-daughter duo, as well as patrons that were sporting handle bar mustaches and bleached and permed hair). Most of the tables turn when the performers take breaks, and our wait was about 45 minutes. The servers play a huge part in keeping everybody happy and imbibed - Perry's serves the strongest Mimosa I've ever had in DC, with just a splash of OJ to go with your bubbles.

If you have anything important to discuss with your brunch companions, this is not the place to do it. The Queens command attention, and the disco/Lady Gaga/Beyonce mix blares on top of the ding of a crowded dining room. It is also a more interactive experience than the Gospel Brunch at the Corcoran (where, I suspect, none of the performers will ask you if you want or need a BBC in your life). On Sundays Perry's goes from a la carte to a buffet (around $25 per person, cocktails are about $6 each). I am not a huge fan of brunch buffets, and the long line that forms in between shows makes repeated visits difficult (the solution is giving you an enormous plate, which may not be everyone's favorite strategy). However, the kitchen tops off the selections regularly, and everything is well prepared - everything from eggs, salads, waffles, noodles, sushi, cold cuts, lasagna, orzo salad, and grilled chicken and pork. The corn muffins are very tasty and the dolmas, though they had no reason to be there, were chilled and tangy. The sushi is nothing special on its own, but its sheer presence next to scrambled eggs makes the roles noteworthy.

The most boisterous brunch in the city, and a wonderful way to beat the winter blues.

Perrys on Urbanspoon
Perry's Restaurant
1811 Columbia Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009