Exploring D.C.’s cafe scene has become somewhat of a pastime of mine. You’d be surprised what you can learn about croissants after you’ve eaten a dozen of them (hint: they are not created equal). That said, I’m familiar with the next-level coffee shops and bakeries like Slipstream, Baked and Wired, and The Coffee Bar. However, the relatively new Maison Kayser wasn’t a spot I frequented, until I had my brunch experience.
I had been to the one in NY, and even the one in Paris, but only for some coffee and some bread–I love bread (pause for Opera moment). I planned to go to Maison Kayser on what just so happened to be the first blisteringly hot Saturday in D.C. I expected the usual array of the cafe style brunch I adore, simple and nothing extravagant, with a side of an extra large, extra cold, iced coffee. I definitely got what I wanted, but, turns out, I didn’t realize what I wanted. I was seated and saw a full-blown brunch menu placed in front of me. My jaw dropped, spirits lifted, and I knew I was about to eat a brunch for four, by myself.
The ambiance of MK is bright and bistro-esque. Despite the legendary history behind the bread and pastry making, there’s nothing intimidating about this establishment. The restaurant is divided into a walk-in friendly to-go bakery, and a full service restaurant. Both are excellent in quality and service.
The brunch menu fare is traditionally French, so I was ready for some authentically delicious bites as my expectations were immediately set due to an adorable brown sack on the table filled with baguettes and assorted bread slices. They don’t serve alcohol at Maison Kayser, so I couldn’t get my mimosa game on. It’s not completely frowned upon to enjoy a mimosa while flying solo, but this situation was probably for the best, so I stuck to my iced coffee. For food, I had no one to consult with, so I just went right in and got my staple items.
When dining somewhere new, I always take into consideration a recommendation from the restaurant staff. I ordered what the waitress claimed to be an “underrated item” on the menu known as a Cocotte. This dish is baked in a baby-sized cast iron with egg, cheese, and onions accompanied by additional fix-ins like ham, or salmon. I ordered the salmon, along with the eggs Benedict, and the French toast–duh.
Secretly wishing I hadn’t eaten so much bread, but also not because, see above, my delightful looking Cocotte had arrived. I dug-in telling myself I would only need a few bites to get the gist. I realized this dish was one of the most awesome smoked salmon items I have seen on a brunch menu. It was salty and savory, with a crunch of blanched asparagus. The portion was ideal, and the small sourdough bread bites made it fun to eat.
My next victim was the classic eggs Benedict. I hold a high standard for eggs Benedict at French establishments and Maison Kayser’s met my expectations. The Hollandaise was beautifully buttery and well seasoned with green onion and salt. My one critique here would be that it was served on a baguette. As you are currently aware, I have nothing against a baguette, nor Maison Kayser’s baguette, but because eggs Benedict is a fork-and-knife dish, consuming this thing got a little messy.
I held back on eating too much of the eggs Benedict to tackle the prize, the moment I’d been waiting for, the metric of all brunch metrics: the French toast. I could instantly tell this French toast was going to be unbeatable due to the voluminous height of the brioche. It was still yellow, not overly browned or crisp, and had simple accompaniments–all French toast really needs is some sort of cream, berries, and syrup. I took one large bite with all the toppings and was delighted.
I was not only delighted by the nostalgic performance of the French toast on my taste buds, but also by the euphoric experience of something new. The creme on top, which I thought was whipped cream, was a French creme that was tart and tasted like a cross between sour cream and cream cheese. Was I shocked one of the best French toasts I had ever had came from a bakery? Yes. Will I judge? Absolutely not.
My stamina was slacking, but I thought to myself “the readers need me.” So, being that MK is a pastry shop, I ordered the chocolate mousse cake. I ordered it, I hated myself, but I did it for you, Bitches.
This mousse was amazing, rich, and silky-smooth. This dessert is a perfect afternoon pick-me-up with a cup of tea or coffee. You definitely don’t need to end a decadent brunch with one of these, but if you’re not eating by yourself, it may be the pleasant palate sweetener.
The Bitches say: B. Maison Kayser is way more than a shop for pastries, breads, and coffee; it’s a fun, casual brunch spot. The space is beautiful and can be catered to your fancy pants friends, or your casual desire to be transported to a French Patisserie. Also, as I unintentionally tested, it is solo dining friendly.
1345 F St N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004