On the heels of yet another wild night celebrating one of my best friends’ birthdays, I was eager to catch up with my roommate, Kara, to fill her in on the latest happenings. We ventured off to Chinatown on a cold and gloomy Saturday afternoon. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. I’ve been known to stay out until the early hours of the next morning following a rowdy brunch. And, as I would find, brunch at Dirty Habit was just the first stop on such an itinerary. Formerly known as Poste, Dirty Habit is located inside of the quirky and contemporary Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton property. I used to frequent Poste for happy hours on the patio. When we first entered, the host, Jojo, greeted us and offered to check our coats. Jojo had a stylish charm and bubbly personality like no other— something only bolstered by our discovery that he wears bow ties daily.
We were seated in the atrium, and reveled in natural light peeking through the large glass windows. In contrast to the former establishment, Dirty Habit’s decor is industrial chic with exposed lighting. The darker tones provide a sexy touch.
Beverages were ordered, while coffees were consumed. Kara and I agreed on the Dirty Habit brunch punch. The menu offers everlasting brunch cocktails including mimosas priced affordably at $16. The brunch punch cautions that it is dealer’s choice, which is perfect for me. Similar to first dates, I prefer a little mystery in my drinks.
The bright, burnt orange punch was garnished with a gorgeous edible flower, making it almost too beautiful to consume. Almost. Our fabulous server, Roberta, concocted the libation, which comprised Absolut Elyx, passion fruit purée, coconut rum, Pashos bitters, and aromatic African floral red tea. Dirty Habit prepares the punches overnight and rotates the offerings weekly. The brunch punch was delicious, but also quite deadly as it sneaks up on you.
We settled on starting with the mushroom tartine. The grilled bread was slightly burnt, but still tasted great. The ricotta and garlic brought the right amount flavor. I have a fickle relationship with mushrooms, so I was overwhelmed with the amount smothered onto the tartine.
Kara was curious about the lobster poutine. She wasn’t quite sure what to expect but enjoyed it regardless of the difficulties in chewing the poached lobster. She especially loved the shrimp and potatoes and thought the gruyere added an unexpected, but delectable taste along with the bechamel sauce.
The brunch punch was free-flowing and crept up on us throughout our meal. I appreciated how Roberta kept replenishing our glasses with fresh punch, as ice cubes diluted the drink.
The brunch burrito arrived next, supplemented by potatoes. The potatoes were awkwardly large in size, but cooked well. The burrito sans chorizo consisted of scrambled eggs, spinach, and mushroom served with salsa verde. While it wasn’t an innovative choice, it was at least satisfying.
Next up, we were advised not to leave without trying the Elvis French toast. You could have blindfolded us and told us it was a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we would have believed you. The French toast was basically a delicious upscale version of a classic PB&J with powdered bacon sugar and banana, and accompanied by a beautiful sunny side up egg.
We were disappointed to discover Dirty Habit was already sold out of house-made doughnuts. We compromised, and selected two bite-sized desserts instead. Kara has a weakness for hazelnut, while I have a strong affinity for carrot cake.
The hazelnut dacquoise was the perfect size for sharing. The chocolate ganache and chantilly cream melted in your mouth like a Ferrero Rocher. I enjoyed the added salty and sweet flavors and crunchy textures on top.
The carrot cake arrived stylishly as well, decorated with rice pearls and crisp carrot chips. The spiced cake was devoured immediately and even surprised Kara, as a carrot cake cynic. The cream cheese frosting wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet which I appreciated.
It was apparent from our arrival how passionate the staff is about the newly transformed restaurant and how much they truly love working there. We’ll certainly be back for brunch in the future to hopefully able to snag the doughnuts before they’re sold out again.
The Bitches say: A-. For a trendy experience coupled with strong libations and satisfying food. Brunch at Dirty Habit is a hot spot for dates or a group of friends visiting town.
555 8th St N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
Dirty Habit serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.