You can’t just open a regular ol’ hotel these days. Now the hottest places to stay have built-in experiences, award-winning restaurants, bars for check-in desks, and more. On the forefront of this trend is The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan. This converted church masquerades as a hotel with a radio station, meeting spaces, an event space on the rooftop, and multiple dining options, including Chef Erik Bruner-Yang’s Brothers & Sisters and Spoken English, coffee bar The Cup We All Race 4 and upstairs, A Rake’s Progress.
Award-winning chef Spike Gjerde, of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore fame, designed a mid-Atlantic cuisine inspired by the bounty of the coast. The restaurant occupies the top floor of the lobby, encircling the bustling shared space below, and surrounded by hauntingly beautiful stained glass windows. It’s one of those spaces that is gorgeous from every angle; you could spend all day examining the details. But we had brunch work to do.
We began with coffees, oysters, and cocktails, as ladies tend to do at morning hour. The iced oysters were presented beautifully, served on a silver tray filled with ice, and teeny tiny condiment bottles filled with mignonettes, cocktail sauce, and Snake Oil, Spike Gjerde’s signature hot sauce, made from spicy red heirloom peppers.
The coffee service is impressive—with chic, simple, organic coffee mugs and silver milk saucers and teaspoons. We each had a frothy latte to get caffeinated and situated in the right mindset.
The cocktails offer a selection of Southern and mid-Atlantic American cocktails like a Peach Julep (made with Catoctin Creek Brandy, mint honey and peach,) and a Cucumber Spritzer (with Civic Vodka, cucumber juice, mint, and soda). There’s also a Haymaker cocktail, with local Cotton & Reed silver rum, ginger vinegar, honey, and saline. It’s clear that great effort was placed into developing a cocktail menu of elevated craft cocktails that provide an homage to the mid-Atlantic region, while using local ingredients and small batch, craft liquors from regional distillers.
Despite these impressive selections, I went with a watermelon rosé mimosa, because I’m a Bitch. It was beautiful—light, frothy, simple, and utterly divine.
Fortunately, my brunch date is a native of the Baltimore area so she was on-hand to both educate me on the finer details of regional cuisine and Chef Spike, and also to try the more creative cocktails and dishes on the menu. She selected the Tomatillo Bloody Mary, made with Civic Vodka, green tomatoes, tomatillos, and that signature, spicy Snake Oil. The cocktail was gorgeous—served in a tall, vintage tumbler that would look at home in Cleopatra’s bar cart. It was spicy yet smooth—and a welcome departure from the classic tomato Bloody.
Of the many reasons to visit A Rake’s Progress, the silver service pastry platter would be the top priority. These gorgeous silver platter of house-made pastries features a raspberry jam doughnut, a plum crumble coffee cake, a cinnamon love knot, and a honey-pecan kouign amman, which may be the best thing I’ve ever eaten.
Chef sent out the spit-roasted lamb, a tender, pulled-apart meat flavored simply with a garlic herb rub and onion atop a thin, fluffy Moroccan-style flatbread. It was almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
As this is a restaurant from a Chesapeake Bay-area chef, I knew we needed to order both the Hangtown Fry and the soft shell crab Eggs Benny. There’s a lot of scrapple on the menu—including a scrapple eggs Benedict, which I could not bring myself to order.
The Benedict was a sight to behold—a gorgeous fried soft shell crab was drenched in Hollandaise alongside poached eggs atop griddled English muffins. This was a great locally-inspired take on a brunch classic.
The Hangtown Fry was similarly jaw-dropping, with grilled pork belly, crab gravy, soft scrambled eggs and fried oysters atop a thick slice of soft, fluffy rye toast. It was hearty but the flavors were well balanced.
The Benny and the Hangtown Fry were each served with the most divine hashbrowns. Shredded potatoes were cooked with cheese and butter, formed and baked into a cake-like shape with a crispy outside, like an individual hashbrown casserole. Seriously, we could eat these hashbrowns as an entree every time.
The Bitches say: five Champagne flutes for an incredible meal filled with decadent pastries, locally sourced and inspired fare, good service and a stunning, elevated space. This is a must-visit restaurant and a great spot for repeat visits for special occasions.
A Rake’s Progress is open for brunch