Evening Star Cafe (Del Ray)

The lady and I seem to have an unintentional way of celebrating moving to a new apartment: we make a trip to brunch at Evening Star Cafe. When my parents were in town 4.5 years ago when we moved to Old Town, we took them there as a thank you for helping us move. This time, we fit the trip in before the move over to Del Ray. The lady and I took a break from all the clearing out and packing and changing our address to enjoy a nice quiet morning at brunch.

As we are wont to do, we arrived at around 11. Since they don’t seem to take reservations for brunch, I’m always afraid they’ll be packed. However, there were only a couple of other tables and we were seated immediately.

In order to keep the bill on the more affordable side, we skipped out on drinks and just ordered food. Actually, if you’re looking for a way to try Evening Star without going big, the brunch is actually very affordable.

I decided on the the chicken and waffles (no surprise there) and the lady had the bacon, egg, and cheese.

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The chicken and waffles were served with a pat of hot sauce butter in the middle, as well at some crispy bacon on top. I thought the hot sauce butter was an excellent idea, as I usually ask for hot sauce for my chicken anyway. I’m going to have to steal that idea. The waffle was that perfect balance of crispy but still soft. The bacon was a nice touch.

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The bacon, egg, and cheese was simple but good. I could definitely whip that up at home, but was pleased to not to have to. The crispy potatoes tasted like they were coated in something. Something delicious. I definitely helped myself to those from the lady’s plate.

As always, a delicious meal from an old favorite. I think our next trip there will be WALKING from our new apartment. Well, if it’s warm enough to do so.

  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The Midnight (ciabatta, tasso ham, roast pork, fried egg, swiss,
    whole mustard, pickled green tomato) sounds amazing. Like a cuban, but breakfasty. I might have to make a special trip back for that.
  • What makes this place stand out: It’s Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s first restaurant.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Brunch is surprisingly affordable. I have a feeling we’ll be back soon, now that we live in the neighborhood!
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): You could walk up to St Elmo’s Coffee Pub, if you’re in need of some more coffee. Or Dairy Godmother, for a sweet treat. Or next door to Planet Wine for all your beer and wine needs.
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Columbia Firehouse (Old Town)

When my college BFF, J, told me she was coming to town, I knew I wanted to take her to brunch. My first choice was honestly Evening Star Cafe, but I couldn’t get a reservation for the 3 of us. We could have gone without reservations, but I don’t like taking chances when I don’t have to. So, I explored other NRG options in Old Town. My next thought was Rustico, but one look over their menu revealed that they did not have the Eggs Benedict that J had already told me she wanted. My next thought was Columbia Firehouse. They had 3 different options for Eggs Benny, so I made the reservation.

We got up on Saturday and walked into Old Town from my apartment so I could show J this adorable tiny city that I live in. Like I wrote about in Monday’s post, we hit the Old Town farmer’s market and Waterfront Market to kill time before our reservations.

We walked into a mostly empty restaurant a few minutes to 11, but I’d much always rather be safe than sorry with reservations. Especially when hosting an out-of-town guest. You can’t look like you didn’t plan well!

They seated us in the dining room to the left of the barroom. This was the first time I had been there during the day, so this was the first time I noticed that this dining room was mostly windows on the ceiling! It was nice and bright. I’m glad I wasn’t hungover or anything, I may have needed sunglasses during my meal!

For drinks, J and I started with a bloody marys and, the lady had a mimosa. Both were equally delightful.

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We had worked up quite the appetite after all the walking, so we started with the Rosemary Garlic Fries with 3 dipping sauces: Smoked garlic mayo, buttermilk goat cheese, and ketchup.

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Holy cats were these some delicious damn french fries. We shoveled them in. I think everyone decided that the buttermilk goat cheese dip was the best. Yum.

For entrees, J decided on the Southern Eggs Benny. Fried green tomatoes, poached eggs, hollandaise, on a muffin. It said it came with jalapeños, but J requested it without. It was also served with fried potatoes. She said it was really tasty. I will need to go back and try it for myself. I love some fried green tomatoes!

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The lady had the Croque Monsieur.

 

She said it was pretty good, but about 4x the size it needed to be and was a wee bit dry. After eating the fries, she was only able to eat about half of it.

After much deliberation, I decided on the chicken and waffles.

 

It wasn’t much to look at, but it sure was delicious. It did come with a bird jus drizzled over the waffle, and that made it a little soggy. I don’t think it was totally necessary with the side honey served as a drizzle for the chicken, and butter and syrup for the waffle. All’s well that ends well, it was still delicious. I liked the honey for the chicken.

J and I also decided to go for a second round of drinks. I was sold on the Pineapple Mint Mojito, which had sparkling wine instead of club soda and chunks of pineapple.

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I was expecting it to be more pineappley than it was, but it’s just a good excuse for me to replicate it at home, but maybe with spiced rum and a splash of actual pineapple juice. Sort of a Mai Tai/Mojito hybrid.

J went with the Cucumber Fix Martini. Gin, Cucumber, Jalapeño, St. Germain. It was good, you could definitely taste the cucumber, with a little kick from the jalapeño, and lots of gin taste. It was definitely a slow-sipping drink, and despite being a martini lady, I don’t think she finished it.

 

Overall, I was really happy with my decision for introducing J to all that is Neighborhood Restaurant Group and having a really great brunch. We left feeling satisfied and a little bit tipsy. Now I just have to convince her to come back before the moves to Finland so I can show her a few more of my faves!

  • Favorite thing I had: The fries were really, really damn good for french fries. The buttermilk goat cheese dipping sauce was yummy. The chicken and waffle was also really good, minus the bird jus that soggified the waffle a bit.
  • Favorite thing she had:  She liked her mimosa and the fries as well.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The mussels, the oyster po’boy, the whole dinner cocktail menu
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): We’ll probably try to get down there for drinks sometime soon. We’ve been there for drinks, for dinner, and brunch over the period of about 3 years. Time to start the rotation again!
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Old Town is your oyster here. You can go shopping or go down to the water and hang out. We did the Farmer’s Market and Waterfront Market before brunch.

Bar Charley Brunch (Dupont)

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Bar Charley was one of the places that we visited at the very beginning of the blog in March. It was in fact, my second review. It was the start of attacking this city’s food scene and trying new things are often as possible. It took a couple of months, but we finally made it back for their brunch. We had been discussing the possibility heading back there with a couple of our friends, a friend of mine from back home and her boyfriend, with whom we manage to brunch about quarterly. The last time we saw them, we sealed the deal and planned for a bottomless birthday celebration there.

We planned for noon, but I thought it might be a good idea to get there a little early, for parking purposes and just in case there was a wait. We rolled in about 15 minutes early and despite not having the other half of our party, they seated us. I was totally expecting to have to hang out at the bar but I was impressed and pleased. It may have been a different story had we wanted to sit inside, since the patio was packed and the dining room was not. I love it when restaurants accommodate me and  let me start giving them my money as soon as I arrive.

We grabbed the cozy booth behind the curtain at the front of the restaurant and ordered a cup of coffee, took a selfie, etc. Our friends arrived and we got down to business. Well, not too much business. In the name of being responsible adults, we decided against the (even though it is a really awesome deal) bottomless brunch. I ordered a bloody mary, the ladies got mimosas, and the gentleman had a beer. It was a tasty bloody mary. I sucked it down pretty fast.

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Since birthday friend and I are both from the south, we enjoy celebrating our roots when we’re together. So we started with a basket of biscuits. They were tasty. Maybe not quite as fluffy as I would have preferred, but they hit the biscuit lovin’ spot.

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Birthday friend and I both decided on the chicken and waffles, because when we go southern, why not just go all the way.

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The waffle was a little softer and less crispy than I usually prefer, but it was still incredible. We both appreciated that the chicken was boneless. It was also nice and juicy. I added a little bit of hot sauce to the chicken and it was a perfect balance to the sweetness.

The lady went with the Charley Breakfast, basic, but hearty. She said the bacon was perfect, and look at those eggs. They look fake they’re so pretty.

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And the gentleman decided on the Breakfast Poutine. It basically tells you up front that you’re going to need a nap after you consume even half of it.

 

If any of us had been hungover, this would have been the most perfect breakfast. It was deeeelicious anyway, but I definitely would not have complained about being able to go back home and nap it all off.

 

  • So, how was it the second time around?: It was good! This place is solidly just very good.
  • When do you think you’ll be back again?: I feel like maybe in another couple of months. But maybe sooner for a drink and to check out the patio.
  • Overall Impression: The space is cozy and the drinks are above average. The food is not outstanding, but it’s good! The service is nice and polite. The fact that they seated us without our whole party is a huge plus. Knowing that will get me back there over places that I’m less sure about.

 

Copperwood Tavern (Shirlington)

The lady was the first one who brought Copperwood Tavern to my attention. She had stumbled across it in her efforts to find more VA-based places for us to check out. Then I found the post from Bitches Who Brunch. As if that wasn’t enough, my trainer told me that the caramel moonshine was a must-try. Three mentions put it on the shortlist. So, when the lady and I found ourselves with a free Saturday morning, we made a reservation and headed over to Shirlington.

The outside patio looked really nice, but it was just a touch chilly, so we decided to take a seat inside. I’m glad we did, because the inside of the restaurant is a sight to be seen. Rustic with all sorts of stuff to look at on the walls.

The lady was a bit hungover from our delightful trip to Dram & Grain the night before, so she opted for a soda to drink. I was in a bit better shape, so I went with the mimosa. The cocktail menu looked really tasty, but I wasn’t feeling quite 100%, so I didn’t think that was a good choice. They also brought us some spiced popcorn in a small tin bucket to start.

Everything on the menu looked really good and I had a hard time deciding what to get. Things that stuck out were the the Bananas Foster French Toast, Fried Chicken and Biscuit, and the Shrimp and Grits. I was in the mood for a biscuit, so I settled on the Chicken and Biscuit w/ maple au jus. The lady went with the perfect hangover cure in the Tavern breakfast. Eggs, toast, potatoes, sausage.

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Everything was excellent. The biscuit wasn’t as fluffy as I usually like, but it was SO GOOD. And the sweetness of the maple was perfect on the chicken and with the butteriness of the biscuit. The lady’s meal was really great too. We think the toast was the same bread that the “bread fairy” had given to us the night before at Pleasant Pop’s. Whatever the case, it was great for hangover relief. We were both stuffed and ready for our afternoon hangover nap.

  • Favorite thing I had: The biscuit and the maple au jus. And her sausage was really, really good.
  • Favorite thing she had:  The breakfast potatoes and the sausage.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The shrimp and grits. It was a hard choice between to 2 this time around. I also want to go back for dinner. And I want to try the cocktails. They had lots of moonshine cocktails.
  • What makes this place stand out: It’s a farm to table restaurant. The outside patio looked really nice and the inside was rustic and cozy. I felt comfortable right away. Moonshine cocktails!
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Probably within the month for dinner and/or drinks. Dinner did look to be a touch pricey though.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): There’s a library, theatre, grocery store, Busboys and Poets, all sorts of stuff nearby. You could spend an entire day in a two-block radius.

Cusbah (DC)

Cusbah South Asian Spice Bar sits on the same corner, across the street from famed fried fish carryout, Horace and Dickie’s. That is how I originally discovered it. It always looked interesting from the outside, with the name painted on the side of the building, and the giant patio area around it. We were always on our way somewhere else when I remembered it was there- so it was one of those ones that kept falling off my radar until recently. Last weekend, we were looking for a cheap-ish lunch option on H St. that we hadn’t tried, and their brunch buffet fit the bill. We parked just a couple of blocks away and walked into a completely empty restaurant (through the wrong door because I hadn’t had enough sleep). We got there just as the buffet was being set up, so we had to wait a couple of minutes, but at least we knew the food was going to be fresh.

In the meantime, we noticed that mimosas were only $3.50, so we each had one. I realized when we got them, why they were so cheap: the champagne they used was flat. Had it cost more, I may have said something, but I was too tired to bother. I drank it anyway.

The buffet was small, but it had just enough choices for me to stuff myself. There was basmati rice, an appetizer (some sort of fried onions), two curried veggies (potatoes and chickpeas), curried lamb and chicken vindaloo. There was also naan, assorted chutneys, and rice pudding. I got a little of everything on my first run, and the just the best ones: rice, chicken, chickpeas, and naan on my second run.  I finished with the rice pudding. It was a little awkward to eat on the flat rectangular plates with a fork, but the naan helped with that. It was all pretty decent. The flat mimosa and the fact that the bartender was chatting incessantly, very loudly, in the small space with another employee, put a little damper on the experience. She was very nice and helpful and we joked around a bit, but the loudness got a little old in the empty restaurant. Maybe it was just me being cranky. I won’t NOT go back there, but I won’t be in any hurry to do so. There’s great South Indian food closer to home with a weekend buffet, no need to travel.

  • Favorite thing I had: The naan! And the curried chickpeas.
  • Favorite thing she had: The lamb curry
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I would like to go back for dinner next time. Maybe try the tandoori kebabs.
  • What makes this place stand out: The big patio seating area and the window that opens up to the bar. There was quite a nice breeze flowing through the place. They also have vegan options.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): Maybe we’ll go back after we’ve put a big dent in our list. That patio with access to the bar outside might be worth it on a nice day, though.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Well, if it’s not noon, there are a plethora of bars nearby. You could hit a show at Rock N Roll Hotel. Or see a play at Atlas Performing Arts Center.

Boundary Road (DC)

We first discovered Boundary Road when the lady was getting a tattoo next door at Cirque Du Rouge. It seemed too expensive a dinner option right after spending a few hundred dollars on a tattoo, so we went elsewhere that night. It got back onto my short list when they had a Green Hat spring release party. I didn’t make it down there that night, but vowed to do so soon. What sealed it for me was when I heard they were doing equal pay specials on Equal Pay Awareness day. I will always support a place that commits to causes like that. Since we had yet another free Sunday, I made a brunch reservation.

We left our place with plenty of time to make sure we didn’t get caught in Cherry Blossom festival traffic like we had the day before. It wasn’t necessary that day and we got to H St. with half an hour to kill. We wandered into Batter Bowl Bakery and down the street where some of our college friends used to live. We marveled at how different everything looked now. It was a totally different neighborhood 5 years ago when we were hanging out there on a regular basis. All that was there on that end of H St. at the time was Citi Pizza, the funeral home, and the liquor store. I mean, pizza and liquor, what more do you need? But it’s nice to have options.

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We decided we were hungry and headed to Boundary Road about 15 minutes before our reservation. They weren’t too crowded, so we were seated immediately. The first thing I noticed was the light fixture. It was a box spring with light bulbs. The space was rustic and cozy. It was a bit dark in the back, which was kind of jarring on this super bright day. The lighting was good for a date. Or a hangover. The lady marveled over how large the bar was in this relatively small row house-sized space. I liked the wood and the bold colors.

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We sat down and decided pretty quickly on the Punch of the day (Gin, cantaloupe, honeydew, mint, orange juice, and cherry) for me and a mimosa for her. The punch was nice and light and fresh. It was a nice fit for the sunny, almost hot day. Her mimosa was in a huge flute and was the perfect champagne to OJ ratio.

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We started the silver dollar biscuits. I hadn’t had anything for breakfast, so I was ready for something to snack on. They came out quickly with butter and raspberry jam. They were still just a touch doughy, which is exactly how I like them. The jam was perfect. I ate mine really slowly because I didn’t want it to be gone. I could eat the jam with a fork straight out of the dish.

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I decided on the Apple Cheese Pancakes as my main course and the lady went with the Reuben Eggs Benedict. The pancakes were nice and thick and also a little doughy, which was perfect. I appreciated that they were rustic-looking. I think I accidentally used too much syrup, because they were a little on the sweet side for me, but a few bites of the lady’s Benedict cut the sweetness quite well.  I just wish I had ordered a side of bacon. Her meal was a perfect balance of flavors. A rye muffin topped with pastrami, sauerkraut, and two perfectly poached eggs. I was actually pretty jealous of hers, but was glad she ordered it so I could have a few bites of it. I’ve only recently learned that I actually like sauerkraut, and hers was perfect.

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After that dense biscuit and two huge pancakes, plus a few bites of the lady’s meal, I was pretty stuffed. But I was pretty pleased with the meal. I was glad that there were some things close by to wander to, because I really needed to walk off some of my fullness. There’s so much more to explore on H St. now. It’s crazy what a difference 5 years makes.

 

  • Favorite thing I had: The pancakes were good, but the biscuits were excellent. The punch I had was really refreshing. I told the lady that I could sit outside and drink it all day.
  • Favorite thing she had: The eggs on the Reuben Eggs Benedict were cooked perfectly, and the jam on the biscuits was really good.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: I want to go back for dinner. That menu looks even better than brunch.
  • What makes this place stand out: The space itself was really cool. Rustic. I want a row house and I want whoever designed the restaurant to help me decorate.
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions)Sometime in the next couple of months for dinner.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby)We wandered to Hunted House. Sidamo, the coffee shop, is also right across the street. Soon enough, you’ll be able to hop on the street car and get all the way to the other end of H St. in no time.

Kapnos (DC)

Last week, I talked a little about how I spent some time working in a Greek/Italian restaurant in college. I talked about the pizza there, but the owners of the place were actually Greek. I got most my learning about cooking in that kitchen from a tiny Greek woman named Irene. She taught me all about the general flavor profiles, some standard dishes, and how to pronounce the ridiculously long, but actually fairly phonetic words. I started at the Bistro just a few months after they opened and was with them for their first few years, so they became like family to me. Greek food is sometimes my comfort food.

I also mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I am quite the Top Chef fan (go figure, I just love food). So, I always take special notice of any and all Top Chef activity in the District. So, when Mike Isabella opened a greek place, it went on the list. It got bumped down a little bit for being small plates, but it was still a must try. After bouncing around at least 10 different places and looking at countless menus, we settled on Kapnos for a rare Sunday brunch.

My first impression when we walked in was that is was LOUD. I had a bit of a headache, so I started off a little irritated. I noticed that we were seated really close to a bridal party who has clearly gone bottomless. I almost asked to be moved, but we sat down, I got some coffee, and it ended up being alright save for the occasional burst of cackling. I all but forgot about the noise level once they brought our Tzatziki spread. I make a mean tzatziki myself, but this was amazing. There was fresh dill and like a citrus (maybe grapefruit and orange?) zest on top. The stone oven bread it was served with was the perfect amount of fluffy. We ran out of bread, but I kept the rest to eat with my entrée. I ordered the Spit Chicken and Waffle and she ordered the Greek Coffee Waffle. The spit chicken was delicious. Nice, crispy, flavorful skin, juicy chicken. The waffles were nice and crispy and held up to the syrup well. There was also toasted quinoa and rice sprinkled over the top of everything. Oh, and the chicken didn’t need the tzatziki, but tasted really good with it. The lady’s waffles were much softer and less crunchy, but deliciously coffee-y. They were served with cinnamon butter and whipped cream. I had a couple of bites and want to figure out how to make coffee waffles at home. Such an awesome idea I never would have had myself.

Tzatziki

Tzatziki Spread

Greek Coffee Waffles

Greek Coffee Waffle

Spit Chicken and Waffle

Spit Chicken and Waffle

We’ve now officially had waffles from two DC-based Top Chef contestants. Your move, Spike. Waffle burger? Waffle pizza? Steak and waffles with bernaise? Call me when you decide.

  • Favorite thing I had: Everything I had. The spit chicken and waffles. The tzatziki with the stone oven bread.
  • Favorite thing she had: The greek coffee waffles. Basically dessert for brunch.
  • Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The baklava french toast (I’m so curious about what that’s even like) But really, all of it. I really dislike the small plates concept, but I think I have to go back for dinner. And we’ll definitely be back for brunch. Damn you, Mike Isabella! Making irresistibly delicious food in a small plates concept.
  • What makes this place stand out: The open kitchen area with giant spits and rotisseries. I was sitting with my back to this but kept turning around to check it out. It’s also one of the few upscale-ish greek places I’ve been to. Most are more… cozy. Dare I say, tacky?
  • How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I’m not going to be able to stay away from that brunch for long. There are so many places on our list, but as soon as we were done here, I wanted to do it all over again. I’d go back tomorrow if I could.
  • Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): We wandered over to Smucker’s Farms shop across the street. Then hopped in the car and tried to go up 11th street to hang out at The Coupe or Room 11 or something. Being that it was prime brunch time, everything was packed. You could just go do your grocery shopping at the new Trader Joes a few blocks down 14th.