Columbia Heights is pretty two-faced. Think about it. On one side there are big-box chains like Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond, and brand-new condo buildings and shiny cupcake shops. Cookie-cutter gentrification.
Then, just a few blocks away, it’s a hipster wasteland, with guerrilla dance parties at places like Wonderland, indie wine bars like Room 11, and beer joints like Red Rocks and Meridian Pint (which, conveniently, all sit within stumbling distance from one another).
I had brunched at Red Rocks before, and I loved the chill atmosphere, the food, and the bottomless deal. So, I was eager to try its neighbor, Meridian Pint, especially since most of my Columbia Heights Bitches are regulars there (it is the self-proclaimed “neighborhood gathering place,” after all). Plus, they have beer taps built into the booths, which is quite the buzz-worthy novelty (and buzz they did).
Here’s another reason why the crunchy locals love it: the restaurant is totally eco-sustainable. They strictly serve American beer, “eliminating the impact of trans-Atlantic shipping,” and draft beer, “reducing our impact on recycling resources.” They use a local compost company for their waste, and made all their furniture from reclaimed stuff. Their energy comes from wind mill farms and green energy credits, and they only hire staff who can walk there, minimizing carbon footprints. Don’t worry, this forward-thinking is proclaimed loudly from the cover of every menu.
Inside, the restaurant is bright and sunny. I think it was all the wood—the floors, the long bar, the tables—that reflected the light and made it look more like a showroom than a bar. My party of hungover vampires curled away from the sunlight and headed down the stairs to the basement, which was more much our style that Sunday morning. It’s like a whole other world down there, with pool tables, armchairs, TVs, and booths. The walls are painted with phallic blueprints (it’s true). Oh, and did I mention the booths have built-in beer taps? Amazing.
We loved the pub grub … err.. appetizers. The fried pickle spears and onion rings were greasy and hot and came out fast. Plus, they had deviled eggs on the menu, which delighted me. Those eggs didn’t have a ton of flavor, but were inhaled just the same. I could load up on that sort of stuff. But that’s where the love affair ended: Beer and bar food.
Brunch, sadly, was mediocre.
For my entrée, I had the turkey hash, which was a really heavy dish. It came with poached eggs and a mustard hollandaise on top and was total comfort food—almost worthy of a Thanksgiving meal. Good to soak up all the alcohol, but not the most outstanding hash I’ve ever had in D.C. Sliced fruit came on the side of every dish, but it wasn’t the freshest, in my opinion.
There was a basic breakfast plate (Breakfast Americana), served with eggs (your style), toast, bacon, and sliced fruit. Again, simple comfort-breakfast dish, but nothing spectacular to speak of. Even the French toast was unremarkable—a bit soggy and tasteless—though it was said to be orange-scented and custard-style. The best dish of the table was the steak and eggs, though it didn’t look like it. Besides its weird, lumpy presentation, the steak was cooked perfectly, and had the most flavor of anything else un-fried on the table.
There are lots of vegetarian options, and some dishes can even be ordered vegan. Cori Sue opted for two dishes, the house granola with yogurt and fruit and the pumpkin blintzes with pear compote. The yogurt was a traditional tart Greek yogurt, with plenty of earthy granola (almonds, raisins, nuts, oats) and a variety of fruit— grapefruit, oranges, apples, and cantaloupe. It was a bit of an odd choice of fruit for the yogurt, normally we expect berries, but the fruit in this dish was fresh and flavorful so complaints are minimal.
The blintzes, on the other hand, were subpar. The pancake part was fine, but the inside was some mushy, dry concoction that wasn’t cheese, or cream cheese, but had a consistency more like dry scrambled eggs. Literally, the filling was unidentifiable. Furthermore, the dish was cold, making it even more undesirable. There was no sign or taste of pumpkin, despite the dish’s menu description, and the pear compote on top was fine, but a minuscule amount.
If only Meridian Pint would put the same amount of thought into its brunch menu as it does on where the scraps go (a super-recycled-compostable-eco-friendly-heap somewhere, I’m sure). The only semi-adventurous dish that actually had taste was the smoked trout, which came with head and tail still attached. It also came with strips of smoked bacon on top (bizarre, but I guess you have to make it brunch-y somehow?) and toast on the side. We passed that around, and drank the beer, and stumbled back into the daylight.
The Bitches say: C. Great for beer and bar food, especially if you’re in the ‘hood, but don’t venture out of your way for brunch.
3400 11th St. N.W.