I was really pumped to brunch at Drafting Table, the new spot on the corner of where I live and where I live—it is clearly destined to be my new local. It was a cold, rainy morning on Sunday, and Stef was meeting me there early in hopes of getting a table, as we were expecting its opening weekend to be fairly busy.
Alas, there was a paper sign on the door covering the opening hours. What should have been 11 a.m. for brunch had a scribbled “4 p.m.” over it, and with that, brunch was no longer an option. I texted Stef: “I did it again. I chose a restaurant that isn’t open. This seems to happen a lot when we brunch together.”
She laughed and told me she’d meet me wherever. I was cold and wet and standing on the side of 14th Street like an idiot. I looked across the street and saw a warm, cozy restaurant and said, “Estadio. We’re going to Estadio.”
I had brunched at Estadio once before, years ago when the place first opened, and had opined that it was like Proof but Spanish and sexy. The cocktails were delicious but pricey, the food was good but the dishes small, and overall I had walked away full and with a relatively good impression of their brunch. An A, for flavor and flair, I had said.
This time, we sat at a high top by the bar, and instead of cocktails I had coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. We set to work reading through the menu and I realized almost immediately that nothing here has changed. Really. Nothing.
As far as I can tell, the menu is nearly exactly the same as it was two years ago. There is an addition of some slushitos (though it was a bit cold for that) but other than those, it will still the same raciones, guarniciones, and tapas. A bit bored and disappointed with our deja vu, we ordered anyway.
We split the chef’s selection of artisan Spanish cheeses. It came with three small wedges and four crackers on a wooden board. We also split the warm toast with local honey butter and sea salt, which just tasted like salty toast with butter on white bread. Yawn.
My coffee was constantly refilled, and it was delicious and warming me up. Stef had a diet coke, and they poured it from a glass bottle into her glass on a small tray. Tres fancy. She asked for lemons and got a small dish of them thinly sliced. They’re serious about their liquids here.
For our entrees we decided to split two dishes, as this is tapas-style and meant to be shared. I ordered the egg tortilla, which looks a bit like a frittata to me. The egg was filled with jamon, onions, peppers, and mahon cheese. It was delicious and filling, all that egg.
Stef ordered the patatas bravas, which were cut into little wedges and cooked with delicious spices. Everything here is drizzled with the white sauce, it seems. The potatoes were a good side dish to our plate of eggs.
A bit full from all the carbs and slightly bored with the food, we passed on dessert. Instead, we chatted for hours about life and what was new and different in ours. I surmised to Stef that the reason for my disappointment in Estadio wasn’t because the food or service was bad—quite the opposite, it was all delicious and great—it was just the exact same food and service I had two years ago.
A restaurant should be like a person—living, breathing, growing, changing. The menu should be dictated by the seasons and the chefs’ creativity, and it should be ever-changing. To me, that’s what makes a good restaurant. Not something that stays exactly the same for years. That’s Chili’s.
The Bitches say: B for boring. I like you, Estadio. Give me more spicy and sexy!
1520 14th Street N.W.
Estadio serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.