I swear I saw the future. It was brunch time at Old Ebbitt Grill, and I was in the bathroom. Two little old ladies tottered in, dressed in Chanel tweed and fabulous pearls.
“Ugh, no cloth towels,” one scoffed.
“Ugh, no toilet paper!” said the other.
“Well, as long as there are Benedicts and bloody Mary’s,” they sighed together.
It was an image of me and Cori Sue 50 years from now. I smiled, washed my hands, and left to go back to our booth full of girls, who were definitely not in Chanel and pearls. In fact, we were all in gym clothes, slightly ragged, having just run Katherine Kennedy’s team in the Prevent Cancer 5k.
Yes, I’m back to running. Since I huffed and puffed my way through those sorry three miles that day, I decided, that’s it, it’s on. And I have a bit of time on my hands (read: freshly single), so I got a little crazy with this resolution. Now I’m up at 5:30 a.m. for boot camp every morning; I’m boxing every evening; I’m going on long runs/bike rides/therapy sessions across DC with friends on the weekends; and I have a few 10ks peppered throughout. Obsessive? Meh.
But, I digress. As I was saying, we weren’t appropriately attired for this very traditional DC brunch. In fact, we were surrounded by post-church crowds in navy suits and pearls. Oh, and ducks. We were surrounded by ducks. Old Ebbitt is like a hunting lodge, with its oil canvasses, mahogany walls, taxidermy displays, hardback books, and tartan upholstery.
It all seems very historic on the surface—and it’s true, Old Ebbitt itself has a long history in D.C.—but this actual location has only been open since 1983. The people at Clyde’s had the restaurant fall in their lap at an auction, and they did their best to retain its history. The antique clock over the revolving door at the entrance is an heirloom from the previous location, and the marble staircase was salvaged from the old National Metropolitan Bank next door.
Oh, and all the bartenders are in bowties, which is a nice touch.
To start, we ordered the house-baked mini muffins, which were perfect for sharing. Six tiny, soft muffins came out warm, with a dish of strawberry preserves on the side. Lovely for a table of five hungry women. Though, who has the sixth?
Cori Sue and I both had the eggs Chesapeake, which were standard and delicious. Two poached eggs and jumbo lump crab cakes on an English muffin, just like it’s meant to be. The dish came covered in a Chesapeake hollandaise, which wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it did the trick.
The potatoes on the side of all the dishes were great. They call them “LTD” potatoes, and they’re sliced like bananas and cooked with lots of oil and herbs. Very tasty, and perhaps some of the best brunch potatoes I’ve had in a while.
The mushroom strata was the prettiest dish on the table. It’s served in a white round dish, and it’s not overly enormous, so it’s perfect for a lady. The egg custard is packed with mushrooms, onions, cheddar cheese and bread. And of course, those amazing potatoes on the side. Oh, and they give you some fresh fruit, too. This is definitely a great dish if you want your eggs, but with some fruit and vegetables, too.
Another of our Bitches went all-in and had the Country Brunch, which came with a thin glazed ham steak, cheddar cheese grits, and scrambled eggs. This was definitely the dish to have after a run. We all eyed it with envy.
Surprisingly, there’s a lot of fish on the menu. You could order a whole Maine lobster for brunch—if you so desired—and there’s also crab cakes, swordfish, salmon, oysters, or trout to choose from. So, this place is made for your pescatarian grandma post-church.
Something that peaked my interest on the brunch menu (even though I’m not a huge nut fan), was the peanut butter and jelly crepe. This is probably the best dish for kids, but it sounds delightfully tasty for adults, too, as it comes smothered in a chocolate and vanilla sauce.
The location of this brunch makes it packed with tourists, as it’s adjacent to the Treasury and the White House. Plus, its history (the original Old Ebbitt Grill was a saloon and boarding house founded in 1856) and its interior make it an even bigger draw for the Segway crowd. But, the menu makes it agreeable to most palates. So take your older relatives who are in town to visit you.
This isn’t the brunch you hit up when you have a group of hungover friends who need a bloody Mary. Or a group of women who have just finished a 5k on Hains Point and need carbs fast.
The Bitches say: A- Take your visiting guests, not your hungover friends, as the menu covers all bases but there’s no bottomless deal.
Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20005-5702