Let’s be clear: brunching out on New Year’s Day is not a normal barometer of the quality of service or food you can expect at any given restaurant. Having said that, in my opinion, if you’re not awesome all the time, you’re not awesome.
We were sans-hangover for the first New Year’s Day in a while, so my husband, Gavin, and I took a family morning walk to the coffee shop with our pup, Mojo, before heading to Declaration, a restaurant in our neighborhood of Shaw. Declaration is the latest concept from PRG Hospitality, which also owns two other Presidential themed restaurants—Lincoln and Teddy and the Bully Bar. We were really having an all-American weekend.
The Shaw pizza spot was going with an 80s theme for New Year’s Day brunch, which was more random than cute. The experience was different than a normal Sunday in that we were brunching to the rhythms of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, while trying to track down a waitress in a neon tutu. There was an acne skincare infomercial on the TV near our table for a solid 30 minutes, not exactly the most appetizing background noise.
The brunch deal at Declaration is $40 for all-you-can-eat-and-drink, which definitely sounds like a steal. And honestly, if you’re with a big group, who all just ran a marathon, it would be great. But, after perusing the menu of pizzas, big egg sandwiches, and other hearty entrees, we quickly did the math and realized we could not stomach more than one dish each, and an appetizer. So, it would have cost us more to participate in the all-you-can-eat deal. I also noticed that they didn’t list the a la carte price for brunch drinks, so I inquired. We learned they charge a whopping $11 for a mimosa or $10 for a Bloody Mary! I wouldn’t list those prices, either.
I was in the mood for a Bloody Mary, so after finally tracking down our waitress, I ordered one. I love a good kick to my Bloody Mary, but not one so spicy that it annihilates your palate for the rest of the meal. This one had visible chili flakes, so I tried my best to make the most of it, but ended up switching to coffee. Gav ordered a coffee and club soda, per usual.
We started with the oven-baked chicken wings, which ended up being the best part of our meal. The wings arrived in a mini cast iron skillet, as is the trend these days. The dish contained four wings in a blue cheese mousse, topped with chopped chives. They were sweet and savory, thanks to the light blue cheese foundation. The skins were crispy and just downright finger-licking good.
The Caesar salad was average to say the least. It was composed of bland croutons and a lack of dressing sprinkled atop baby gem lettuce stalks, which is a fancy way to say romaine lettuce. We apathetically split the dish and thought, well, at least we were getting some greens in at brunch.
Next, we ordered the ricotta doughnuts as an appetizer, but they ended up coming out after our entrees. This was fine, as we figured they could serve as a pseudo dessert. We were really looking forward to these, because we love any addition of cheese to a dish. Sadly, these doughnut holes were somewhat flavorless and dense—we could have used more jam—and definitely not as light as you would expect the addition of ricotta to make them.
I decided on the B.E.L.T. and was excited for a bacon, egg, heirloom tomato, AND bacon jam (twice in one description!) sandwich. What arrived was an open-faced sandwich served a la carte. For $14 throw me some home fries, at least! I will say the bread was perfectly crispy and airy and the bacon was well done, the way I like it, but it was a bit of a sad presentation.
Gavin ordered the All American, which came with biscuit French toast (read: fried French toast hot cakes), turkey sausage, a sunny farm egg, and cheddar gravy. What he didn’t realize was that the entire meal would come out slathered in fatty, cheddar gravy. So, if you didn’t like the taste of it, you were screwed. Never one to be intimidated by a gluttonous meal, he admitted after a few bites, this was not a dish that you could finish in one sitting.
It wasn’t the greatest brunch to start off the New Year, but we headed home to binge watch Netflix and plan out our detox for the month of January, as one does on New Year’s Day.
The Bitches say: C+. We had high hopes for you, Declaration, but from the lackluster doughnuts to the Caesar salad, the brunch service could use a few amendments.
804 V St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Declaration serves brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.