When we suggest brunch on U Street, the first question everyone asks is whether we’ve been to Creme. It’s the classic comfort brunch that the neighborhood relies on, and it’s been so forever (or so it seems).
With all the raving about the place, we were shocked when we stepped inside and realized how absolutely tiny it is. Seriously, there must not be more than 10 tables in the entire restaurant. Big wall mirrors create an illusion of depth, but the crunch of after-church families and couples piling in the front door make it crowded.
When we arrived last Sunday morning, there were no less than five or six groups waiting for tables or vying for a spot at the small bar. Thankfully, the hostess was super efficient, and the restaurant was turning tables faster than we could keep track. Clearly, Creme has service down to a science.
The brunch menu is fantastic. It has all the classics and more, plus some dishes are made with a spicy twist. We began with the fruit bowl which, while enormous, was definitely the lowest point in the meal. There was a lot of fruit – a whole banana, melons, berries, grapes, apples – but it was all kind of mushy, un-fresh, and entirely lacking in flavor. It did, however, have a bit of creamy yogurt underneath and granola sprinkled on top, which was nice.
We were all tempted by the green eggs and ham, of course, which is a three-egg omelet and ham steak with roasted green chilis and herb hollandaise. The Seussical name alone makes you want to order it. But then you see the shrimp and grits and the chicken and waffles, and all bets are off. How can you pass up chicken and waffles? At Creme, it’s served no-frills: open-faced on a Belgian waffle with pure maple syrup and cream butter. Your choice of dark or white meat.
They have plenty of Benedict options on their menu, too (a major plus for the Bitches), including a traditional, a portabello, a Chesapeake crab cake, a Louisiana, and a lox and bagel (seriously, it’s poached eggs on a toasted bagel with chive hollandaise). Three of us opted for Bennys that Sunday.
Becca had the Louisiana Benedict, made with shrimp, Andouille sausage, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and Tabasco hollandaise. It packed a punch (perhaps a heartburn-inducing punch), as her mouth was literally on fire from the spiciness. But it was a memorable dish, and probably set the bar for Southern-style Benedicts for us.
Stephanie opted for the portabello mushroom Benny, and was disappointed by how oily the mushrooms were. The dish is already topped with hollandaise, so we see no need to make it extra fatty by sautéing the veggies in excessive oil beforehand.
Cori Sue was perhaps the quietest she’s ever been. Hungover and exhausted, she devoured her Chesapeake Benny in minutes (and secretly wished for a second helping). The crab cake was filled with jumbo lump crab meat and not a lot of bread-crumb fillers, which is major bonus points.
Creme’s hollandaise is one of the better sauces we’ve sampled in the District. The English muffins are toasted but not burnt, and the eggs are poached to picky eaters’ exact specifications.
The Bitches say: Solid A. Classic comfort brunch with no frills, just a bit of a spicy twist here and there.
1322 U St.