Our summers had gotten away from us. Becca had been traveling about the country, Cori Sue had just returned from a jaunt to Paris. We had barely spent any time in Washington—never mind any real time together.
It was decided a Saturday of girl time was in order. And so, with the lovely Aba of TAA PR to the rescue, we were booked for a morning of pampering at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, followed by a decadent brunch at the new America Eats Tavern. We just had to get to Tyson’s.
We had grand plans to experience the new Silver Line, cameras and appetites in tow. But alas, our spa appointments started at 8:30 in the morning, and with a slight hangover (Becca) and slight jet lag (Cori Sue), it was thus decided that an Uber would get us there. Sorry, Silver.
We arrived at the fancy pants hotel quite early and bleary-eyed, the both of us, and were immediately lost. Where on earth is the spa in this place? To which bank of grande chandeliered elevators should we go? Thankfully, a kind soul of The Ritz Carlton noticed our confusion and gracefully escorted us to the fourth floor to the spa.
And we breathed a massive sigh of relief: into the changing room, into our robes, and into the pedicure chairs we fell. Phones finally put away, we gabbled on and on about recent life events, travels, and loves over the steaming foot baths. Our feet were scrubbed, rubbed, and polished with precision.
After our pedicures, we were separated for more treatments. Cori Sue, an epic Vitamin C facial. Becca, a relaxing 90-minute massage. The entire experience was glorious, and we floated around the spa in our robes for most of the morning. Finally, we decided we were hungry, so we got dressed and walked a whole 10 meters to the restaurant around the corner in the hotel.
America Eats Tavern was once a pop-up in Penn Quarter, started by the mastermind José Andrés in partnership with the National Archives. The decor and menu were both heavily influenced by American history, and every menu item or cocktail came with a tale. In fact, we enjoyed brunch there when we tried it, years ago.
The Penn Quarter spot was a six-month project that was so successful that Andrés extended its run, and to everyone’s delight, the restaurant remained open for more than a year. The Tyson’s Corner outpost is a long-awaited sequel, sans the National Archives partnership, but in the same vein.
We arrived completely relaxed, fresh, and smelling of lavender oils and fresh polish. We were also hungry, and our expectations were high.
The decor of the restaurant is similar to the old outpost, but far more manufactured. There are mason jar Edison lights hanging from the ceiling over high tops, and a “We The People” banner situated loudly over the open kitchen. It feels, of course, very Americana. But sadly without the real character of its predecessor.
We ordered coffees and water, in need of hydration. Our server brought our drinks quickly but also put a dash of water in tiny little saucers that had expanding napkins. To our delight, the cloth napkins grew at the water’s touch, and we used them to clean the lotion of our spa-soothed paws.
We began in the healthiest of fashions, with an order of doughnuts and hush puppies. At first blush, the doughnuts appeared to be normal, run-of-the-mill. They were glazed and were served warm—like Krispie Kreme but better—with a side of blackberry jam. They were rich and sugary—dessert for an appetizer.
Meanwhile, the hushpuppies sounded fancy, with corn and crab and a South Mountain creamy butter. They were served on sticks, but they were bland and a bit dry, to our disappointment. We were also tempted by the biscuits—when does one not want biscuits at a Southern spot?
The brunch menu also offers an array of oysters and catsups, which is something entirely unique to America Eats that we recall from meals at the original location. This menu, however, is much more lengthy, with plenty of sandwiches, salads, appetizers, and brunch fare to go around.
We had an incredibly difficult time deciding between all the delicious, comforting, fattening comfort food. Do we have mac ‘n’ cheese or shrimp ‘n’ grits? Fried chicken or steak and eggs? Our mouths were watering over all the options.
In the end, we decided to do all of the above. We split three entrees: the mac ‘n’ cheese, the shrimp ‘n’ grits, and the fried chicken. We also ordered a side of bacon, which was pretty darn good. But then again, it was bacon.
The vermicelli mac n’ cheese can be ordered with or without king crab. In our heads, we wanted the king crab, but we forgot to tell the waiter that and were disappointed by his lack of ESP. Our mistake, we still dove into the flat, creamy macaroni, which was prepared like a pudding.
Becca’s fried chicken was cooked to perfection, and the basket was filled with both white and dark meat. A little bottle of buffalo sauce was on the side, meaning she could cover it to the amount of her liking. It was very tasty.
On the side, which actually was a dish unto itself, was the “cold” slaw salad, made of carrots, baby bok choy, and sunflower shoots. It was shockingly tasty, thanks to the house-made hot sauce. Probably one of the more unique sides we’ve had a brunch.
The shrimp ‘n’ grits can be ordered with or without a fried egg, so we chose with. In our opinion, the addition of a fried egg on shrimp ‘n’ grits adds protein and substance to the dish. It was delicious: packed with flavors of Meadow Reserve cheddar cheese, onion, and butter and loaded with ham and pearled onion petals. The Byrd Mills grits themselves were creamy and substantial, not at all runny or weak.
Despondent, we had over-ordered and generally over-indulged on the entire day. What’s a girl to do? We asked our lovely, kind server for plenty of boxes, and he quickly whisked away our half-eaten dishes to the back, where everything was boxed up and put in lovely paper bags. He presented them to us with a surprise: He had added a slice of chocolate cake and a carrot cake for us for later.
We took our bags of food and meandered out of the restaurant. Somehow, we found our way into the Galleria (it’s all connected, did you know?). As we strolled past its shiny boutiques, a pair of Prada sunnies caught Becca’s eye. The vintage-style tortoise-shell deckers were just what a girl needed to hide away the day’s spa and food coma.
The Bitches say: A-. While the restaurant lost a bit of charm in the move, the food is delicious and the service great, so it’s worth the trip to Tyson’s Corner—take the Silver Line!
America Eats Tavern
1700 Tyson’s Blvd.
America Eats Tavern serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.