One of the best things about spring is being a runner. And one of the best things about life is Saturdays. As a runner and bruncher, I look forward to spring Saturdays with a sustained exhilaration. I will end a busy work week. I will get 8 hours of sleep. I will wake up and go for a long run in the spring sunshine. Then I will go to brunch, drink bottomless mimosas, rapidly become intoxicated and carefree, then flounce home in the sunshine for a warm nap. Yes, there is nothing like a solid spring Saturday.
This particular Saturday, I awoke to rain and canceled my plans to run with my sporty spice friend, Schrammie. I went back to bed for a few hours, read a bit, and leapt over puddles to her car for a late brunch. Schrammie and her friend Bill had earned their mimosas by hitting the pool for laps. I had done nothing but felt I deserved them nonetheless.
I had been tipped off about Bar Charley by the gents over at Urban Stems, who raved about the food when we brunched together at Beuchert’s Saloon. There’s no website, but the Facebook page said brunch was served, so off we went. Bar Charley is nestled in SoMo, which stands for South of (Adam’s Morgan). This is a term my cooler-than-cool cat of a friend, Mauhan, told me about.
We swooped in from the rain to a dark, charming English basement restaurant filled with long communal tables, lit by Old World lanterns and sconces, and decorated with old fashioned mirrors and old paintings. The space was filled with twenty-somethings of all sorts brunching and the noise level was a lively yet manageable din. Most of the servers were hipsters—nonchalant and mustachioed (the males, at least).
We took a seat in the corner by the window, shaking off our umbrellas and snuggling in to watch the rain fall. When we were handed menus, we were pleased to discover a solid bottomless deal: $23.95 for an entrée of your choosing, a biscuit, and bottomless mimosas or Bloody Marys. A great steal for such a cool restaurant.
Naturally, I went for the mimosas, which were made with bubbly, orange juice, and triple sec. Not wanting an extra sweet cocktail, I inquired as to whether I could have just bubbles and OJ, but was informed the mimosas were pre-made and I could not. Oh well. After knocking a few back I was non-plussed.
Schrammie ordered a Bloody Mary and said it was light, flavorful, and just plain ole’ good. Bill went with bottomless mimosas and we cheers’ed with every round.
Our server was a cute, petite blonde who was amenable to our requests and good at her job. However, the service was not too great because she had too many tables. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was just her and another guy running the whole place. I’m one of those annoying people who drinks a dozen glasses of water during the sitting. So, I often offer the option of leaving a pitcher, or extra glass, of water on the table—despite it not being appropriate for a given table setting. I don’t think our waitress heard me mumble this request and thus I was perpetually thirsty. There were a few lulls between our drinks being replenished, which wasn’t a big deal. The only bothersome aspect of the service was that our entrees took about an hour to arrive—oh and the biscuits.
They forgot the biscuits. As I’m paleo Monday-Friday, I really (really) look forward to my weekend carbs—run or no run—and once I had in my mind that I was eating a biscuit, I was really psyched about eating a biscuit. So much so that, after my hopeful eyes looked and looked again for a server, I nearly wanted to stand up on the booth and howl “WHERE ARE MY BISCUITS!?”
Even if I wasn’t on the brink of carb-deprived depravity, I’d take issue on principle that if the prix fixe promises biscuits, than biscuits we must have. Following a polite request from this little Bitch, a friendly gent plopped a bowl on the table and the Southwestern biscuits had arrived. Though my dining partners weren’t as troubled by their absence, they enjoyed their presence—and they were gone pretty darn quickly. They were warm, moist, and fluffy with a hint of savory flavor.
As for the rest of the food, it was really damn good. Bill and I both chose the steak frites. The hangar steak was well-prepared, deliciously moist, and served with a drizzle of Bernaise. The steak was prepared exactly as requested– medium rare– as were the eggs, fried over-hard. The French fries that came alongside the steak were really delicious, like gourmet Carnival fries. Salty, crispy and oily. They were great dipped in the Bearnaise.
Schrammie ordered the chicken and waffles, which was beautifully prepared and presented. She was kind enough to let me have a few bites, and it’s certainly the best chicken and waffles I’ve sampled. The chicken was juicy, moist, and slightly sweet– maple syrup had clearly been used in the breading and frying. The waffles were hot and crisp, served with enormous dollops of hot, melting butter and drizzled with warm maple syrup. It tasted just as amazing as it looked.
Last but not least, I ordered a side of caramelized bacon, which rocked our worlds. The thick, large slices of bacon were cooked properly, as bacon can so quickly be overcooked. It was sweet, but not too sweet, and just the right amount of crunchy.
You can definitely tell Bar Charley uses quality ingredients in its cuisine and takes care in preparation.
The Bitches say: B+. A chill space and vibe, really good food, and a hard-to-beat bottomless deal. The English basement restauraunt was cozy and busy on a rainy day and we forecast the patio brings even more brunchers and fun. The servicen needs an extra helping hand (literally), but the food and space are worth the wait.
1825 18th St. N.W.
Bar Charley serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.