RIP Donna Summer. We dedicate this Disco Brunch review to you …
Have you read the book “Girls in White Dresses”? If you haven’t, and you are like me—a 20-something female living out that ridiculous decade after college—you should definitely read it.
Just like in the book, once a year I get together with my closest girlfriends from college. Each spring we gather in one place, somewhere random across the country, and we catch up. Pregnancies, broken marriages (yes, even at our age), adventures, love affairs—all the gossip comes out. We party, we giggle, we bond, we run amok, we act like we’re 21 again, and then we get back on planes home—until the next year.
This year, being that I was living with one of those favorite girls from college, Tammy, we co-hosted our annual gathering in D.C. We also timed it with Gold Cup. And so when our gaggle of ladies descended upon the District, we rented a bus and got ourselves a big tent, catering, a keg, and multiple cases of champagne, and suddenly it was an all-day party.
The Sunday after, we needed a brunch spot that could host a rather large, rather hungover group of girls. We needed bottomless, and we were OK with sitting out on a patio, being that the weather was near perfection. We went to Level One, even though I had been once before (and had left in horror at the sight of the restrooms).
It was, after all, their Disco Brunch—Level One’s fun take on the weekend. Since my last visit, however, the restaurant has taken the theme to another level, with the waiters parading around in wigs and sparkly, rhinestone-encrusted tops.
I looked up to order my coffee and nearly choked on my water at the sight of a redheaded drag queen in a midriff-baring butterfly top and leather short shorts. At 11 in the morning.
What this place is missing is the music. Perhaps it’s happening inside the restaurant, but who wants to sit inside when there’s such a beautiful patio? Maybe there is some awful D.C. noise law, but I was bopping around to the disco music in my head, wishing the tunes were real.
The patio was lovely (did I mention that?), even though the seating was a little tight. The sparkly service could have been better. Our drinks were empty quite often and usually weren’t refilled unless specifically requested. But, the server was handling tons of big tables, mostly all of them bottomless.
The menu is super cute, and takes on the theme with a bit of tongue in cheek, with the brunch dishes separated into sections such as “We Can Dig It” and “Gimme Some Sugar.” There are dishes like the Bell Bottoms Breakfast Sandwich and the Studio 54 Eggs. Because, after all, Gurl, you look hungry.
We shared a few apps. First, the truffle fries, the smell of which wafted down our enormous table for 10. They were quickly gone. The hummus came with slices of pita bread, celery, and carrots. Yum. The calamari was standard, and hit the spot. It was served with a side of ranch and a lemon.
Then the entrees started arriving, and someone pointed out that half of our 10 meals had an error (Tammy’s chocolate pancakes that came out blueberry, Katie’s salad that came with extra dressing instead of dressing on the side, and we had a few incorrect side dishes). That being said, I didn’t hear a single complaint about the food once it arrived correctly.
I had the BLT, which had avocado, bacon, and tomato. The bread was a lovely grain bread, and slightly toasted, and it came with delicious sweet potato fries on the side. It was a great BLT—and didn’t feel greasy or too heavy.
Amanda had the French toast with bananas, which was absolutely loaded with syrup. It came with a mini pitcher (no joke) of even more syrup. It was a heavy dish, and still came with bacon on the side.
Jamie had the breakfast burrito, which was wrapped in a cheddar jalepeno tortilla. It had a dollop of sour cream and tomatoes on top. It was filled with breakfast potatoes, egg, onions, peppers, chorizo sausage, corn, black beans, and cheddar-jack cheese.
Joanna had the “Can You Dig It?” shrimp and grits, which had a wonderful spicy kick. It was an unexpected combo: bowl of grits, a chorizo sauce on top, and six large tiger shrimp.
Tammy had the chocolate chip pancakes. Her only comment, before devouring them, was that she is obsessed with the orange butter that is served with the dish.
Katie had the chicken Caesar salad. Too often the salads at brunches are an afterthought by the chefs, but this one had a nicely grilled full chicken breast on a bed of crisp Romaine. Even though it originally came out with dressing on it, the waiter quickly returned with a salad with dressing on the side, as ordered.
Rachael had the Bell Bottoms Breakfast Sandwich, made with sausage and egg. Though she ordered sausage, they brought it out with bacon, one of the several wrong orders that were brought out to our table. However, it was quickly replaced with the right one.
She was expecting a sausage patty, but instead it was a link split in half. A link with chewy casing is disappointing when you’re expecting a melt-in-your-mouth disk of pork and sage. But the eggs were perfect, the cheese melty, and the home fries were crisp and warm.
One of the men at the table ordered the burger, medium. It came out pretty rare, and with regular fries on the side (wrong). The patty was super thick, though, and there was lettuce, tomato, and onion on the side. It was a very plain burger.
The manager came to our table to politely tell us that they’re enforcing the 90-minute table time, because it was so busy. He wasn’t kidding. When we left, the place was packed. So packed, that they were serving mimosas to people waiting, the crowd nearly spilling onto the street.
The Bitches say: Still a B-. Good food—when they get it right—but not the best service. Granted, the patio is fabulous and it’s a fun theme.
1639 R Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
Serves brunch Saturday and Sundays.