all photos: Shauna Alexander
Consider this 2011′s #1 notable edition to our BRUNCH GUIDE, which we’ve all come to know and love. Apparently, Scott Drewno, somewhere in between seemingly winning every contest he enters/is entered in and working his magic on the benefit foodie circuit, also keeps making Wolfgang Puck’s The Source just a little more special. The latest addition to their well oiled operation is the Saturday brunch (remember how often you wish there was a good Saturday brunch experience to sink your teeth into?) which allows Washingtonians to try a cornucopia of small plates (some adapted from their previous brunch menu, some brought in from their regular dining service) at (almost) ridiculously accessible prices ($30 for 5 dishes, or $40 for 8 (which is plenty for two people, as we learned on our visit)).
Anyway, in the name of empirical research, we spent last Saturday morning (the first after the brunch has been announced) tucked into one of their banquettes, taste testing (and, of course, photographing) 14 out of 24 dishes (our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs, however- 24 dishes for 2 people is a feat we’d have to ramp up to, but at least it gives us a reason to return, right?)
The dishes come out as they’re ready, and they do require some prioritizing in the sense of “obviously, I want to eat this egg while still hot, and the drunken noodles can maybe wait for after that” and while the majority of the plates are non-vegetarian the couple sitting next to us had a vegetarian member and the kitchen worked to adapt the meaty dishes for her needs keeping the service seamlessly running.
We kicked off with their version of fried rice which features sweet Chinese sausage and a Wok Fried egg with a perfect sunny center to stick your chopsticks into (God, I love yolk). A little greasy and a perfect mix of sweet and savory, this is THE DISH to kick your morning after the night before here with. Also, you will give up on the chopsticks and just pummel unelegantly through this with a fork (consider this a fair warning)
Next we sunk our teeth into the Lobster & Shrimp Spring Roll, which arrives to your plate with a pool of honey spiced dipping sauce and a bouquet of cilantro on top to cut through all the fried, sweet goodness. The lobster and shrimp though are the clear stars of the plate as the roll has almost no fillers: just good seafood, kept simple and, like a present, wrapped up in crunchy (and edible) wrapping.
The General Tso’s wings-sticky, delicious, a little awkward to share between a pair since there’s three of them (but -where there’s a will, there’s a way)
The aforementioned Shanghai Noodles with braised Oxtail are hearty and fried rice aside, the closest to what one expects Asian food to be on this menu (whether this is a good or a bad thing for you, we’ll let you decide)
DEFINITELY always order the Crystal Chive Dumplings which come filled to the brim with King Crab and floating atop of a Chinese Mustard (a mustardy/hot saucey mix) which are also featured on their drink menu and get all golden stars in my our book all the time: not greasy, insanely flavorful, perfectly compact (it’s more than a single bite dumpling so these things matter), in a word-something you wish you had on your plate all the time.
A perfect complement to the dumpling course is, of course, the Sui Mai, which here is filled with what certainly seemed a full sea scallop and resting on a curried lobster sauce, light, airy, and a must for any seafood lover about to dive into this brunch experience.
Onto the sandwich offerings! Maine Lobster Club on walnut bread (with bacon vinaigrette standing in for actual bacon) is perfect (and almost too pretty to eat). A giant piece of Lobster, looking to escape the bread, it is a messy experience to share (it definitely requires re-assembling after disassembling) but worth it (or order 2, since you know, you can).
The bao buns come with lacquered duck and cucumber wedged inside the perfectly dense buns where the duck sauce seeps into that final bite
Everyone around us was ordering the Kobe Sliders (and why wouldn’t they? they sounded delicious) but on an excursion like this, a slider is almost a cop out and while perfectly adequate (if featuring a little too much bread)-we felt it was almost a waste of our belly real estate when so many more special things are on offer.
The banh-mi. Scott Drewno just participated @ the Banh Mi throwdown and so it is nice to see the miniature version of his sandwich on offer here
We closed out our savory portion with the Kobe Beef Hash which we were informed was the most popular dish on the previous brunch menu and rightfully so-the poached egg is insane, the beef is perfect, the sauce not too heavy-we’ll take seconds please.
I guess before dessert evaluation we can spend some words on the cocktails: all breakfast cocktails are a very reasonable $8 and feature everything from 3 different Bloody Marys (I enjoyed the classic which was classically delicious and spicy, with a single stuffed olive sandwiched in between two non stuffed ones), the Pomegranate Mimosa that Shauna was ready to move in with as well as some other summery favorites like Pimm’s Cups and Dark’n'Stormys (both drinks BYT has fully committed relationships with)
There are 2 dessert options: One is the mini chocolate bomb (which came with a separate pool of hot chocolate sauce to swim in) and the other is the Pineapple Custard Bao Bun. Both are good in a casual, pick these up and eat with my hands kind of way, which, even at a fine restaurant like the Source is a convenient way to finish off a playful meal (especially after two Pomegranate Mimosas)
OK-we’re hungry now.
The restaurant, located at 575 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (entrance on 6th Street), serves brunch from 12 p.m to 3 p.m. on Saturday. For reservations please call (202) 637-6100. Take a peak inside Scott Drewno’s fridge here.