All words: Brandon Weight
All photos: Stephanie Breijo
Biking hungover is not fun. Biking to make an 11:30 a.m. reservation after staying up until 5 a.m. is not fun. Biking after staying on the phone until 3 am and periodically checking messages until 6 am because there’s a bug infestation at your girlfriend’s apartment and she can’t sleep is not fun.
Eating a breakfast sandwich with bacon and ample Gruyere at Bearnaise is fun.
Folks in D.C. brunch (“brunch” is a verb in this town, face it) in similar circumstances. With your group / partner / co-worker / family, you recount the last night’s activities until you order, and continue while you dig into a bacon-wrapped Brussels sprout adorning the Bloody Mary you’ve eagerly wanted to drink since you remembered you had brunch reservations.
When we visited Bearnaise on Sunday, they had only been two days into their brunch service. Like any Spike Mendelsohn restaurant (or French restaurant, for that matter), it felt like they had been running it for two years. Not a single dish served came out without the care of a team dedicated to cooking with great ingredients and great techniques.
Sure, this won’t be a wildly experimental brunch. There are no wild cards. There are brunch staples with twists, like the Creme Brulee French Toast with Maple Creme Anglaise in lieu of a moat of maple syrup, and the steak and eggs with the house bearnaise.
Still, why mess with classics? There are other spots in town to fawn over foams and inverted coffee presses and guacamole made-at-your-table (side note: while I can accept brunch as a verb, I can never accept guacamole made-at-your-table. Trust the chefs, FFS. It’s not worth $15).
Classics reign supreme. Chocolate croissants dusted with powdered sugar, unlimited La Colombe coffee and/or mimosas with fresh-pressed juices, a perfectly seared steak made to soak up egg yolk. That’s all I want to dig into when hearing what bar Ian Svenonius may have been playing soul deep cuts at the previous night.
Bearnaise is located at 315 Pennsylvania Ave SE and is open for Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.