I was coming off yet another nutty Saturday night out. Neon stilettos, nightclubs, house parties, dive bars, the whole shebang. It was Sunday morning, and I was exhausted and hurting. I had promised my best friend Brian that I would show up at his spinning class at 10 a.m. He had just started teaching spinning, and I wanted to support him. Could I drag myself there?
I hopped in a cab. Yes, I cabbed to a spinning class. Don’t judge. I showed up. I lasted the entire class. I didn’t pass out. I proceeded to sweat out all the champagne. And when it was over, I walked out with my best friend Brooke (also there to support Brian) and thought: I need to eat.
So we started the Great Sunday Morning Hunt for brunch. We were in Federal Center, so we walked across the National Mall, admiring the spring tulips and perhaps taking a touristy photo or two.
We kept walking up to Capitol Hill. Should we do brunch at Bistro Bis? Way too fancy for our gym clothes. How about the Irish pub around the corner? Not serving, but they directed us to brunch on U Street. Errrhm, a little far.
We kept walking. Around Union Station, deeper into the Hill and eventually landing on H Street N.E. We made a pit stop at a very granola coffee shop (the music made me want to run out of there as fast as possible). Thank goodness it was a pretty day and we had plenty—plenty!—of gossip to catch up on.
We walked past a tiny restaurant right on H Street and peeked in its windows. Empty chairs sitting in the sunlight, eclectic interior, waiters standing and waiting with poise. This looks inviting. “The only French restaurant on H Street” it teased. Intriguing.
We walked in and felt instantly uncomfortable for being in such beautiful surroundings in our finest work-out clothes. Super sexy sweaty us. But the manager at the door welcomed us and even obliged my request to sit at the sole sunny window table, making us the first thing people would see when they entered or walked by the restaurant. Ah, well.
The restaurant is beautiful, and perfectly French. Not Le Diplomate Disney World French (which is still brilliant, mind you). But real, honest French—down to its core. The waiter approached, after a good while, greeting us simply with “bon jour.”
We couldn’t take it all in fast enough. There were stacks of vintage suitcases under the wooden staircase. Antique mirrors hanging in front of the beautiful vintage-y wallpaper. Bird cages with beautiful lights hanging from the ceiling. Musical instruments lining the walls—even a drum set perched precariously on a banister on the second floor.
It’s just a beautiful space (have I said that enough?). Someone really thought about this. Even the menus are inside gorgeous old primary school notebooks and written with a sense of wit and humor (there’s a “blank page for your thoughts,” just in case). Everything was fantastic and whimsical and cute. I was having an Instagasm (read: Instagram orgasm).
And then another lovely server approached and dropped piping hot perfectly baked French bread slices on our plates—and then kept bringing more after we ate the rolls with melted butter inside. We ate so much French bread that day, but it was so good that I had no shame. We had just done spinning, so whatever.
Le Grenier offers a brunch deal where you can get either an app and entree, or a dessert and entrée, with a mimosa or Champagne blanc for $18.95. Of course, we had a glass of champagne each (hangover be damned), which arrived in gorgeous antique champagne glasses. I really need to find these for my house.
We decided that one of us would do the app and entrée, the other, the entrée and dessert. And so we were able to split both an appetizer and a dessert between us—perfect!
We had the house paté as our app. It was good, I think. I don’t know much about paté other than occasionally it arrives a little fishy. This, however, was delicious. A creamy spread for our never-ending French bread. It came with an odd side of vegetables. An onion, an olive … We weren’t really sure how to eat the side bits. Too French for us.
Brooke selected the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and spinach, with the side salad. She loved the fact that she could have both spinach and salmon on her Benny. Plus, it was perfectly executed. A French restaurant should know how to poach an egg—and Le Grenier proved itself. Also, the salad on the side was huge! Bravo.
I had the steak and eggs, which is always a crapshoot at a new French restaurant. You never know if you’re going to get the bottom-of-the-barrel, stringy slab of meat. Quite the opposite, this steak was perfectly cooked and tender. It was covered in sautéed shallots and a mustard drizzle, which lended just enough flavor. On the side, perfect French fries. Ah oui!
Just when we thought we were done, we split the Nutella crepe for dessert. I would happily eat that everyday. It was plain and simple—a crepe with a slathering of Nutella inside. Yum.
The Bitches say: A+ A hidden brunch gem with delicious French food, great service, and absolutely beautiful décor and ambiance.
502 H St NE
Washington, DC 20002
Le Grenier serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.