After weeks of biting my no-longer-manicured fingernails, an e-mail answered my Bitch prayers: I, Catherine O’Donnell, was to be the official New York Baby Bitch. Soon after, I headed to the nail salon to cover up my hot-mess hands before my first brunch with the Bitches. Though it was just Cori Sue and I at brunch at Iron Gate that morning, I struggled to harness my giddy enthusiasm at becoming a part of the team.
It was a perfectly pleasant day in Washington—one that comes few and far between. As it was the last week of May, we savored the brief late spring moments where you can walk around Dupont without feeling weighed down by humid air from every angle.
Tucked away on a quiet block of N Street sits Iron Gate. As I waited for Cori Sue in the entryway, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful architecture and high ceilings of the foyer of the restaurant, which comprises mostly open air space. The knowledgeable, friendly hostess let me in on a couple of fun facts before we sat down.
Built in 1875, the Iron Gate has seen a number of identities including a Civil War stable, inn, and restaurant (twice). Reopened in November 2013, Iron Gate is a historical, stunning space with a well-known chef, and its renaissance has caused quite the buzz in Washington. Cori Sue and I were eager to see what this spot had in store for brunch.
We were quickly led to the back patio where the vast majority of brunchers were seated. Woven into the wood-lined canopy above us was a forest of ivy leaves, draped beautifully along the outdoor ceiling. While the patio was fun for a girl’s lunch, we thought that the lights laced within the canopy would give off the perfect intimate mood for a date night. Boyfriends, take note.
Brunch menus in hand, our waiter promptly arrived to our table and took drink orders. To his surprise, Cori Sue was back, having visited Iron Gate with some girlfriends for dinner the night before…at the same table…with the same waiter. What are the chances?
It was at this moment that I let Cori Sue in on a quality I had yet to divulge. Sadly, mimosa drinking with the Bitches is an activity I cannot partake in—at least yet (one more month!). For this reason, we stuck to black coffee and water, which our friendly waiter brought to the table in moments.
After some catching u, it was time to examine the brunch menu. Our waiter offered a handful of suggestions and we eagerly obliged.
The brunch menu at Iron Gate features traditional sweet and savory breakfast options, with a dusting of Greek and Italian flavors and unique plates. To begin, we ordered the crispy phyllo-wrapped custard with powdered sugar and a metal tin of miniature Greek yeast doughnuts with orange blossom syrup.
The phyllo-wrapped custard wasn’t beautifully presented, but it was rich, moist, and creamy—an absolutely delicious dish and a welcome departure from the typical brunch staples.
While we waited for our first course, Cori Sue and I discussed my new role with the Bitches Who Brunch team. Iron Gate was a perfect place for conversation because we weren’t crowed against other patron’s tables. Instead, Cori Sue and I enjoyed our coffee infusion and briefly waited for our first course. Amidst delving into the details of my responsibilities with Bitches, food was served—and food was conquered.
Our two appetizer selections were both flavorful and full of sugar. The custard struck a perfect balance between thin and crunch phyllo pieces and a creamy inside. Though our stomachs wouldn’t allow us to finish the ample doughnut serving, though our hearts wanted to. Instead, we saved room for a main course.
Having had our fair share of sugar, we turned to the savory section of the menu next. Under recommendations from the waiter, I ordered the baked hen eggs, beef and veal meatballs, and tomato and Burrata cheese. Cori Sue opted for Iron Gate’s rendition of the classic steak and eggs: two olive oil fried eggs with crispy fingerling potatoes, salsa verde, and oak grilled Roseda farms flank steak.
In the meantime, we moved into the best parts of getting to know someone. Both of us being voracious readers, we happily discussed our love for Jane Austen and most British classics. Cori Sue even gave me a couple book titles for my summer reading, both Bitch related and not. However, at the sight of our main dishes, talking waned and tasting began.
Served in a small skillet, I quickly cut into my eggs and watched the creamy yolk drip out. Combined with the salty beef and veal and the mozzarella-based burrata, my dish soon became a deluxe breakfast scramble.
Cori Sue’s steak was seared perfectly, oozing with flavor at every cut. Packed with everything you need in a good steak and eggs, Iron Gate’s rendition definitely passed our cut.
In retrospect, there were so many dishes I wanted to try. Ricotta pancakes with granny smith apples, a slow-cooked lamb sandwich with aged provolone, and toasted sourdough with house-made Nutella. What bitch wouldn’t want to taste these unusually delicious combinations?
Full off of good food and cheer, Cori Sue and I took our time in leaving the Iron Gate. In a wonderfully charming way, the patio transported us to a quieter and greener cove of Dupont.
On our way out, we again looked up at the beautifully constructed canopy. Though enchanting, we wondered what happens when it rains. There is seating inside the restaurant and in the carriageway, but we think it’s more fun to sit outdoors under the canopy. In short, we wouldn’t recommend attend Iron Gate on a rainy day.
The Bitches say: A. Iron Gate has great service, brilliantly flavorful brunch dishes, and a striking back patio.
1734 N St. N.W.
Iron Gate serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.