There’s something sadly predictable about hotel restaurants and the brunch served therein. A hotel bar often provides a unique destination for cocktails with friends, whether you’re from out of town or a resident of the city. However, hotel restaurants often tow the line, playing it safe with traditional renditions on American fare in order to please visiting guests.
Foggy Bottom and downtown is filled with upscale hotels serving reliable-yet-predictable breakfast fare, including Juniper at the Fairmont, Lafayette at the Hay Adams, and the Caucus Room in the Westin Georgetown. (Blue Duck Tavern and The Jefferson are notable exceptions, as the cuisine is phenomenal and the quality incomparable.) There is another restaurant to add to this list: Jardenea in the Melrose Hotel.
The restaurant sits directly on Pennsylvania Avenue, shortly before you would stroll across the bridge to Georgetown. I’ve walked by it hundreds of times, yet had never been inside. The hotel and restaurant recently renovated, and its PR agency invited us in for brunch.
The space is beautiful: clean, crisp and airy, decorated in shades of whites and blues, with ceramic and mirrored accents, and Victorian furniture. It is exactly my preferred style of décor, and I enjoyed it upon entering. The spacious tiles lobby is filled with tufted couches and books, seeking to give off an air of Washingtonian sophistication—though the Jefferson hotel does this far better.
I was joined by Sophie, who was already waiting for me in the spacious, gray-walled restaurant, for brunch today.
We began with coffee, water, and brunch cocktails, which were absolutely beautiful. The tall, thin glasses of bubbly blackberry Bellini and traditional mimosa were lovely, light, and served their purpose of bringing us to life on this early morning and also photographing beautifully.
Our service was attentive and kind—ensuring our needs were met and our wishes granted. It is in these sorts of hotels that the service knows how to shine.
We began with a fruit plate, which was beautifully presented and appealingly unique. The ovular plate filled with sliced pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries, and plums accented by blueberries, blackberries, dried figs, and a small dish of nuts and seeds. It was a traditional fruit plate with a twist—I can’t remember the last time I’ve had plums—that a Brunching Bitch can appreciate.
Sophie selected from the Eggs Benedict Bar, which had salmon, crab, steak, prosciutto, and vegetarian options. Informed of the ability to mix-and-match, Sophie opted for one crab and one salmon Benny. The eggs were beautifully cooked on both of the Benedicts; the Hollandaise sauce tasted the way it should, and the fish and crab were fresh and flavorful.
Sophie enjoyed the home fries, which were different than what we typically find at brunch. They were shaped like little tater tots but with the texture of crispy fries, which was a pleasant take on a brunch staple. Meanwhile, I found them boring.
She added, “It was nice eating a Benedict and home fries meal and being able to walk away feeling full, heavy, and slow.”
My entrée also came with home fries. I ordered the simple eggs, bacon, and toast American breakfast. It’s clear that Jardenea uses fresh, wholesome ingredients, sourcing from local farmers and selecting high-quality ingredients. Having eaten many a brunch, I appreciated the option to have a clean, healthy breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fruit.
Lastly, we concluded with the French toast, which looked and tasted exactly like the French toast you’ve eaten at hotels and restaurants for your entire life. It was slightly dry, too, as the dish often is, until you put syrup on it.
The Bitches say: B. All in all, Jardenea serves up fresh, clean, American fare with an upscale twist in a pleasant ambiance. However, while none of the dishes disappointed, none wowed.
The Melrose Hotel
2430 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Jardenea serves breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. seven days a week, which includes brunch fare.