I was starting to hate D.C.’s Restaurant Week: five nights; five dinners; empty bank account. It was the wine that got me. Damn those prix fixes and their non-inclusive alcohol clause. My other complaint was that the food is usually pathetic morsels of the actual dish. The entire experience always left me somewhat hungry and tipsy. I nearly gave up.
So I was pleasantly surprised when we hit up Chef Geoff’s in Tyson’s Corner during the most recent restaurant week. Not only were the drinks reasonably priced, you could—get this; it’s a doosey—order anything on the menu (three full courses!) for the restaurant week price. I nearly bowled over.
In fact, I was so head over heels I had to tell the DC on Heels girls, and Dining in DC, and anyone who would possibly listen, what an awesome deal that was (and ended up winning a prize for my raving). Oh, and did I mention? The food was pretty damn good, too. I quickly became a fan of Chef Geoff (also, the Nerd Love kicked in when I realized he actually tweets, and that it’s actually entertaining).
Needless to say, I had extremely high expectations for brunch at the downtown location. For starters, the menu looked amazing. A mimosa bar?! OK, so the beginning of the menu looked amazing. Because that’s as far down as I got. You need say no more, monsieur Geoff. Le bar of flavored mimosas beckons.
The restaurant is right downtown, literally around the corner from the massive Turkish festival on Pennsylvania that weekend (I know, I take forever to write these), but it was surprisingly empty. The jazz band was relegated to the far end of the restaurant, entertaining a single family and a few empty seats. In fact, the music was so far away, we didn’t even realize it was live music until we got up to find the bathrooms.
As we got our pick of positioning, we sat our massive party (16 … these brunches are getting huge) right next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, which gave us a nice vantage point for street side people-watching. It also gave us a crystal-clear view of the valet dude playing musical cars around the block (why not just park them in the garage next door, man?).
Perhaps it was this fabulous big-window lighting that helped make brunch look beautiful. As part of the $21.95 deal you get a fruit plate and bread to start, a choice of entrée, coffee, and your pick of Bloody Mary or a selection from the mimosa bar (passionfruit, pineapple, peach, orange, sweet lemon, or blood orange. Oh, Jesus).
Like I said, brunch was very pretty. The lox and bagel was by far the most attractive dish and totally created just for its presentation. It had a rainbow of toppings: citrus-cured salmon, capers, red onion, cream cheese, egg, and more. Totally gorgeous, but largely unpractical. Only one wheat bagel? And a tiny dollop of cream cheese?
OK, so we like the pretty dishes, but we need more follow-though here, Geoff. A few winners in that department were the grits (fab) and the ultimate bagel sandwich, which was loaded with scrambled fontina eggs, apple wood bacon, and Yukon gold hash. The eggs were fluffy, the cheese filling, and the bagel soft and fresh. Our only complaint was that it was served room-temperature. Sadness. This was also the case with the chicken and waffles. The fried chicken was glorious, and adequately spicy and crispy. But the waffles were served cold and mushy. What gives?
The bennys were swell, served with a bit of Cajun spice, andouille sausage and cream pepper gravy, but it’s with the mention of this brunch staple that I must bring up something important about Geoff’s brunch. That is, there are not many vegetarian options. We had two veggiemen at our table, and both of them were disappointed with brunch. Both the Chesapeake benny and the shrimp and grits included uninvited ham, and Papa Love had to venture off the brunch menu for a suitable non-carnivorous dish (crab cakes … the horror).
Also, did I mention nearly everything on the menu is served with Yukon gold hash? Geoff likes his spuds. The Texas burrito is delightfully colorful (again, with the presentation), but wasn’t thought out. Scrambled eggs, chorizo, beans, avocado, cheese, the requisite Yukon gold hash … and a little dollop of salsa. Where’s all the salsa? Sour cream?
OK, so we were marginally disappointed by the food. It was all delightfully pretty, just not Restaurant Week gourmet, as I was hoping for. If you’re so fab at dinner, Geoff, why cut corners at brunch? It needs a bit more thought.
Bitches say: B- Very pretty dishes, but we weren’t blown away by the taste. Opt for dinner with Geoff rather than brunch.
13th Street, Between E & F St., NW,
Washington, DC 20004