A note from the Bitches: this restaurant is now closed.
The Georgetown waterfront is experiencing a Renaissance. And thank goodness—because it needed it. With flood waters of 2012 that washed away most of the restaurants, the waterfront was reborn—and finally has some decent food.
Notably, Farmers, Fishers & Bakers came back better than ever—boasting the only acceptable buffet in town. From the Italian couple behind Fiola and Casa Luca, Fiola Mare is a stunning space with phenomenal cuisine—it’s actually my favorite new brunch of 2014. (Our annual Best & Worst Brunches comes out next week.) We’re also very excited for the opening of Orange Anchor next month. The restaurant is from the folks behind Second State and Copperwood Tavern, which both serve up fresh, local fare that’s hearty enough to stick to your ribs.
The latest renovation is Mama Rouge, a new restaurant in the space formerly housing Bangkok Joe’s. While anything would be an improvement from the former tenant, Mama Rouge is a pleasant addition to the K Street complex.
The restaurant is Southeast Asian with a French twist—a fusion combination not yet accomplished in Washington. I was unsure what this meant for the restaurant in advance of my arrival.
The décor is that of a French café with an Asian twist with bistro style seating, tufted booths, traditional round sconces on the walls, and metal filigree accents. The color scheme is turquoise and red with Asian floral cloth booths and turquoise chairs. The feminine space would be perfect for a ladies luncheon or bridal brunch. At the front of the enormous restaurant lies a backlit bar with red leather stools that would be fun for cocktails.
It seems that brunch has yet to take hold at Mama Rouge, as lovely Emily was all but alone in the beautiful restaurant when I arrived.
The cocktail menu is unique, with beverages inspirations from France and Asia. There’s a Midnight in Paris (Calvados, lemon, Cointreau and crémant), a Death by Hemingway (cognac, absinthe, marashino, crémant). For brunch cocktails, there’s a Siracha Bloody Mary, but no mimosas, much to my dismay. Emily, one of my Bloody Mary experts, vouched for the Siracha rendition.
The brunch menu is concise, with eight unique, enticing options. There is a sweet crepe, a savory crepe, patisseries, boulangeries (a basket or fresh-baked bread) Pain Perdou with braised pineapple, and omelet, and scallion and crab pancakes.
The entire lunch menu is also available at brunch. Thus, we began as one should at an Asian restaurant: with chicken lettuce wraps and dumplings. The chicken lettuce wraps were absolutely delicious: fresh and flavorful, with enormous chunks of moist chicken in a peanut sauce with kimchee cucumbers. I was grateful that the dish had fresh lettuce and cucumbers and the appropriate amount of sauce.
We also enjoyed the pork dumplings, which were also delicious and perfectly prepared. I’d definitely like to revisit Mama Rouge for dinner and drinks at the bar, given that the menu items and cocktails were delightful.
We ordered several brunch items, some better than others. The ham and cheese Banh mi, ordered on a baguette, was out-of-this-world yummy.
The French-Asian combination paired surprisingly well: brie, ham, baguette, but with an Asian slaw of cilantro, green onions, cucumbers, carrots, and lettuce. Somehow, it worked out into deliciousness in each bite.
The savory pancakes were also slightly confusing yet delicious. The pancakes were loaded with shredded crabmeat and scallions, and served with a fried egg and Siracha. They were moist, fluffy, and flavorful.
The omelette, filled with Heirloom tomatoes and herb cheese, was served with a baguette, which are pretty decent for a restaurant. The dish tasted more interesting than it was plated and provided a hefty portion size.
The weakest dish on the menu were the savory crepes, which tasted just fine but left something to be desired. Filled with brie, fresh greens, and apricots, the crepes were drizzled with too much honey mustard and the dish was just a too mushy.
The Bitches say: B+. Mama Rouge is a charming, spacious spot for brunch. With unique dishes and fun cocktails, it’s certainly worth a visit to the Watefront.
3000 K St. N.W.
Mama Rouge serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.