A note from the Bitches: this restaurant is now closed.
My closest friends live in Arlington, and so when they gather for brunch, it means I make the trek out to the ‘burbs. But leaving my Sunday-morning routine to the very last minute (sleep, glorious sleep!), means I forfeit the long Metro ride and instead MyTaxi my merry way across the river. Life is just easier that way.
My friend Anna had suggested we try Notting Hill, a new spot right on King Street in downtown Alexandria. We gathered a group, made a reservation, and met there at noon. I, of course, was the last to arrive. But only by a hair. Joanna and her Frenchy rushed to their seats right before me and laughed at my tardy arrival.
The restaurant is small but fancy. You’re greeted by a roaring fireplace, white linen-covered tables, and a harpist strumming in the corner. Should I have dressed up? We were a large party, so we were seated at a big table in the center of the restaurant, and we ended up being the loudest of the room, obviously.
I was slightly hungover, so I passed on the mimosas and ordered a coffee. Out came a teacup and the server poured me a cup of coffee from a teapot. Bizarre. Derek, however, was imbibing. His mimosa was very pulpy, which he didn’t like, but it was also very strong, which made up for it.
The bread that was delivered to the table was delicious and had hints of rosemary. It was warm, but it could have been a bit warmer. I ordered a salad to start, which was fresh and tasty.
The other apps arrived, and we had good first impressions from the presentation, but were a bit disappointed once we started eating. For instance, the pork belly croquettes sounded great on the menu, but the first bite tasted like a fatty Hot Pocket. Less than desirable.
The second croquette was better because there was an actual meat-like substance inside. The grits underneath of the croquettes were nondescript and slightly cold. Bleugh.
Brooke ordered the Old Chatham’s sheep’s milk yogurt, served with house-made granola. That’s a very fancy pants description for such a simple brunch dish. A plate like that is hard to screw up, though we would have appreciated a bit more fruit.
The country ham and buttermilk biscuits were the winners amongst the appetizers. The biscuit was fluffy and tasted great with the greens, and there was a light dressing on top. That, with the rolled ham, was not only very pretty, but also very tasty.
The butternut squash soup was served in a nice iron cast pot. The soup was creamy and not overly sweet as some squash soups can be.
For my main course, I ordered the prosciutto omelet, which was a special the waiter was touting. It came sans prosciutto, and so I mentioned this to the server, who whisked it away quickly. He came back with another dish, which, upon closer inspection, I realized was actually the very same omelet, just re-cooked and with some prosciutto quickly stuffed in it. You could even see where I can cut it open initially and they had tried to cook it back together.
We were really trying to give Notting Hill the benefit of the doubt, but the scales were tipped when our same, soggy omelets were brought back to us. Also, inside the omelet, there were not the normal vegetables you would expect, but rather cabbage. Cabbage in an omelet? Not only was it strange, but those choices made the omelet slimy and soggy.
The second disastrous dish on the table was the steak and eggs. The steak tasted like it had been cooked over melting plastic or tires. It was too bad, because it was cooked a nice medium rare inside, but the carcinogen taste ruined the entire thing.
The Florentine Benedict was decent. It was made with Swiss chard and house-made guanciale, plus three eggs (yes, three). It was low carb because there was no bread, and the eggs were cooked perfectly. The potatoes on the side needed salt, but, oh wait, there was no salt on the table.
Really? No salt or pepper on the table? That’s an overly confident restaurant move if I’ve ever seen one.
The saffron chicken dish was not what we were expecting (chicken breast, perhaps?), but rather a barbecue chicken dish with some eggs thrown in on the side. It was good, but it could have been served with bread or buns to make a sandwich. Very weird.
The casserole was fluffy and good, and served in another cast-iron dish. There was definitely not enough bacon, though, to please the pork-lovers at the table.
The entire experience was backwards. The restaurant and menu seemed fancy, but was clearly a mess behind the scenes. The service epitomized that. Though our waiter was attentive, he was odd, pouring coffee from teacups and getting very perplexed over simple requests like, “Can I have some milk with my coffee?”
Even the layout of the bathroom was awkward, not to mention having to walk through a prep station to actually get to the restroom.
Oh, and the harp needs to go.
The Bitches say: D. They clearly have some kinks to work out and could use some service and kitchen training in order for them to live up to their fancy facade.
1106 King Street
Notting Hill serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.