There is one thing that’s always been true: I love carbs. Particularly doughnuts, breakfast foods, and Italian cuisine.
Another recent truth is my love for Columbia Heights. Sure, I’ve always known the ‘hood was hip, filled with young people; new, delicious restaurants; and fun, divey bars. Did I often make up my mind to trek up the Hill to get there? Certainly not. There are plenty of great spots in my vicinity that don’t require such a schlepp.
A few months ago, when it was still rather chilly, I had dinner at Maple with my “anonymous” man friend—the one whom our readers think I should date.
We loved Maple: the small, charming ambiance; the great wine selection; the spectacular hand-crafted old-fashioned cocktails; the house-made, rich Italian pastas; and the super fresh salads and seafood dishes. Maple serves up small plates of fresh, handcrafted, farm-to-table Italian cuisine with a modern twist, and does so well.
The seasons have changed, and it was rather warm, but I was still joined by someone from my high school, at brunch, rather than dinner. Adorable petite blonde Edie, who is much younger than me but we played soccer and ran cross country together back in Florida. She’s grown up quite a bit, developing a passion for cocktails after college in New Orleans and recently moving to Washington to take a killer gig with Laughing Cocktail, the company behind the Passenger.
Thus, Edie knows her cocktails, and, when I arrived, she was already enjoying Maple brunch cocktail, the Sloe Cider, made with sloe gin, St. Germain, muddled orange, grenadine-soaked cherries. She gave the delicious cocktail good marks, saying, “It was perfectly portioned, an ideal cocktail for a Sunday brunch, if you aren’t feeling like orange juice.”
As I had been out far too late the previous evening, I opted for a coffee (quite good) and a sparkling water (we are at an Italian spot). I eventually caved and had a Blood Orange mimosa as I think its rude to have your friends drink alone, and, blood orange is far too tempting.
The menu boasts a lot of egg options and a lot of panini options—reminiscent of Acqua al 2, which serves solely paninis and frittatas for brunch.
Unfortunately, they were out of the house-made maple- cashew granola so we doubled up on carbs for our appetizer and dessert. First up, the mascarpone with preserves and a toasted baguette. So, essentially, bread, butter, and jam, but so much more delicious than that.
Edie pipes in, saying, “The mascarpone was really fluffy and good, the preserves made it pop with flavor.”
Whether you loved carbs, wanted to treat yourself on a weekend, or were terribly hung over, this is the perfect way to start a Sunday IMHO.
For our main entrees, Edie and I both ordered egg dishes. Edie had the poached eggs with spinach, shaved parmesan, and pork belly atop a toasted baguette, served with a side of potatoes.
Of her dish, Edie says, “This was pretty good, definitely not my favorite because overall it was a tad bland, but the pork belly saved it. It was perfectly cooked.”
I had the cod-and-potato cakes, topped with sunny-side-up eggs and a side of mixed greens. Both dishes were beautifully presented, plentiful in portion, and fresh and light in flavor.
Quick aside: our waitress was a bit of space cadet. However, she was kind. Moreover, I was pretty spacey that morning so my communication skills were less than stellar—mighta been me. She repeatedly had to ask us to repeat things and forgot things. But, our orders arrived correctly and in a prompt fashion, so, no harm, no foul.
The meal concluded in the most heavenly fashion: us, a titch tipsy off of bubbly cocktails and a grilled Nutella banana hazelnut sandwich being placed before us. Bananas and Nutella smooshed between slices of thick, fluffy ciabatta and grilled, arriving hot and gooey with grill marks in the bread. Amazing. And perfect indulgence before indulging in a luxurious Sunday afternoon nap.
The Bitches say: A-. High quality cuisine in a charming little Italian spot. We’d love a bottomless option, a few more menu items, and a minor uptick on the service. All in all, really delicious food.
3418 11th Street N.W.
Maple serves brunch on Sundays.