It had been busy, as always. My parents were in town. The Bitches hosted a fabulously fun trunk show brunch. I was graduating from my master’s degree program. I had a lot of things to think about, but only one that mattered: Could we sneak Daisy Mae, the Maltese-Shih Tzu, into the GWU graduation ceremony?
Answer: Yes, we could, and we did. Daisy listened attentively to Carlos Slim and NBC’s Brian Williams give commencement speeches before I threw my cap in the air and headed to a pup-friendly brunch with fam, friends and furry fluffball in tow at Art & Soul.
It was a beautiful day. Perfect, in fact. Slightly sunny, temperatures in the high 70s with a slight breeze. Art & Soul, located in the Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill, has a spectacular, warm-yet-modern ambiance with reds, blacks and dark woods. However, the patio, with its large wooden tables with umbrellas, high tops and patio lounge seating is the real gem. It’s enormous and made for lingering—for brunch, for lunch, for cocktails, for whatever—just stay awhile. Best of all, the restaurant is pup-friendly with menu items just for Fido.
Art & Soul is Southern soul cuisine that’s heavy on the pig (with hand-cured prosciutto and meats by Chef Wes) and has plenty fatty to-die-for comfort food.
We began with scones and also ordered pimiento cheese spread for the table—this is a Southern restaurant, after all. The pimiento cheese spread was perfectly presented—served in a mini mason jar atop a wooden rectangular cutting board with crackers. It was delicious, of course, as it was home-made pimiento cheese spread. However, there were simply not enough crackers to go around and the waitress promptly brought out more.
The scones at Art & Soul are worth the trip alone. They are soft and fluffy, unlike regular scones and more like biscuits than not. Served warm, the scones were cinnamon raisin and topped with sugar glaze. I had two, and had to restrain from snatching a third.
The brunch cocktails are fabulous, but unfortunately they are prices $12-14 a pop and there is no brunch deal. I had the Roll Call, which was Belvedere, pomegranate port reduction and blackberries. It was slightly sweet, slightly tart, fizzy and perfect. The mimosas were made with fresh orange juice and quickly imbibed.
My parents, who are Bloody Mary connoisseurs, really enjoyed the Southern-inspired Bloodies, despite the fact they arrived sans-accoutrements (no celery, shrimp, limes, salt, etc.)
Mocktails are also available. Tristin chose a house-made cucumber lemonade, served in a mason jar. There’s not much better than an ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day, and Art & Soul’s light refreshing beverage, with a cucumber flair, can’t be beat.
All three adults at the table opted for the burger, which came served with French fries in a little metal basket. All three adults ordered their burgers differently—but they were devoured in the same fashion.
Lindsey had the market vegetable chopped salad (hold the dressing) and a side of berries (hold the cantaloupe). Both were fresh and delicious and the wait staff followed her instructions perfectly. To summarize: Art & Soul makes a damn good burger.
Evan had the market omelet—but when I asked him what he had, he couldn’t remember—but could recall the side of potatoes as delicious and the patio quite lovely.
As for me, I selected the shrimp n’ grits, made with Anson mill’s white grits, served with spinach and okra and topped with a creamy, spicy shellfish emulsion sauce. I held off on the house-made Andouille sausage, but everyone raves about Chef Wes’s house-made meats. The shrimp n’ grits were heavenly—creamy grits, a flavorful sauce, fresh perfectly cooked shrimp—I was a happy girl—and I wasn’t sharing!
Unfortunately, no one at the table had the famous chicken and waffles, which are available a la carte or with served with two champagne cocktails for $30.
Southern restaurants do brunch well—and Art & Soul certainly does. The food is gourmet and house-made and the dishes well-presented. There are healthier options—salads, yogurt and granola, fruit—should you decide you don’t want to dig in with scones, pimiento cheese, burgers, chicken and waffles and mac n’ cheese (but why would you ever do that?).
The service is excellent and the patio really enjoyable. Brunch on the patio is a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon—and I recommend you head over to Capitol Hill to do so.
The Bitches say: A for delicious, well-prepared and soulful cuisine in a chic ambiance with attentive service.
Art & Soul
The Capitol Liaison Hotel
415 New Jersey Ave. N.W.
Art & Soul serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.