Do you know our Social Bitch, Amanda Jean? I’m sure you’ve heard from her, as she regularly contributes recaps and brunch reviews and nips about town covering events, her camera in tow.
Amanda Jean began as our third team member, our first Baby Bitch, nearly four years ago. Now, as we have eight girls in two cities (and are working on a third!), Amanda Jean is like a second lieutenant. We count on her not only to run our social media, but as a trusted third opinion and a harborer of institutional Bitch knowledge. Tweet at us, or like us on Facebook; it’s Amanda Jean who’s Bitching back. It’s rare we Bitches brunch together, save for that one time at Copperwood Tavern. Amanda Jean and I decided to catch up over our favorite meal at City Tap House, a new craft brewery and restaurant downtown.
On this particular sunny Saturday, I had purchased a brand-new Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Carolina blue cruiser, with the intention of summer rides to brunch, the Penthouse Pool, and my favorite new coffee shop.
Somehow, I managed to cycle over safely and rode up just as Amanda Jean was crossing the road. “Look at my new bicycle!” I hollered with glee. We learned how to use my new bike lock and rack, and were swiftly escorted outside to the lovely patio.
City Tap House is an enormous space downtown. It’s an attempt to transform a cookie-cutter shell into an authentic lodge and pub. There is an enormous bar in the middle and lots of booths with pleather orange and yellow seating. The space is rustic yet accessible, with plenty of room for birthday parties, work happy hours, or large brunch groups.
Though my sensibilities are always offended by manufactured authenticity in decor, it’s incredibly common across Washington and was less bothersome to me in this instance. But, that may have been because we were seated on the patio.
The menu at City Tap House is not at all what one would expect. It’s not just burgers, fries, and chicken fingers—though there is plenty of American food. Instead, the cuisine is an across-the-spectrum smattering of inventive takes on modern American cuisine.
There are flatbreads, pizzas, craftwiches, and creative appetizers like bacon popcorn with candied peanuts, maple glazed pork collar with cheddar grits, and lodge corn bread. We started with the sweet corn and crab hush puppies, which Amanda Jean had sampled for lunch that same week and mandated we order. They were served piping hot, and not overly fried, which I appreciated. There was also plenty of crab inside.
They were slightly bland, as is the nature of a hush puppy, but were easily spiced up with the dipping sauces: honey-thyme butter and citrus remoulade. The honey thyme butter was our favorite. We went out on a limb and shared the Korean short rib tacos, served with a pickled cabbage slaw, cilantro, and a spicy chili sauce. The short ribs were moist, flavorful, and absolutely delicious—it was clearly marinated and roasted for a long time, resulting in maximum deliciousness.
The tacos were presented beautifully, with the short rib placed on flour tortillas, and topped with the slaw and cilantro. They were moist and messy to eat—I had them all over my napkin. Amanda loves pancakes on the weekends, so she immediately went for the lemon ricotta pancakes, topped with caramelized bananas and blueberries and served with Maple syrup.
Meanwhile, I went for the chicken and waffles, a predictably delicious Southern staple. The chicken was moist, but a bit overly fried. The waffles were delicious. Doused in maple syrup, the dish was heavenly. And, we appreciated that it was served in three pieces, making it easy to share.
Feeling like lushes, we concluded with raspberry bellinis and a trio of Dolcezza Gelato: marscapone and berries, mango, and salted caramel, my absolute favorite. Dolcezza Gelato is out of this world, and we appreciate that the restaurant supports small, local business.
This brunch was on the house—but I’m not sure the server was aware until the end. She was pleasant and amendable without being overbearing, which happens sometimes when they see the giant camera we tote.
The Bitches say: B+ City Tap House does a great comfort food brunch in a modern, upscale lodge downtown. It’s food is reliable and fresh, with some dishes surprisingly gourmet. Though, it is certainly not a foodie’s mecca, it is great for group, patio, and bottomless brunches.
City Tap House
901 I St. N.W.
City Tap House serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.