One of the most glorious things about being single is that I’m no longer forced to feign interest in America’s ridiculous gladiator sport, football. This British girl never really understood the point of watching burly men bash each other into concussions.
Yes, you likely disagree; and I’m used to hearing passionate bouts of Americana when it’s brought up. And while it’s not my cup of tea, I do recognize the camaraderie that comes with sitting with your friends and rooting for a team.
So for those of you who are enjoying the very best of this fall’s football and need a bottomless spot at which you may unabashedly scream at a television, boy do I have a brunch for you.
Penn Commons has many things going for it: It’s easy to get to, being next to the Verizon Center. It is very tastefully decorated in various types of wood and leather, with a beautiful central bar and plenty of seating. It’s all very cozy, in fact.
It’s also from the same Passion Food Group family that brings us District Commons. And, it seems to be the exact same restaurant, just transplanted to a new part of town. The menus and approach are nearly identical. Which is rather disappointing given how different the decor is.
It is said that brunch in D.C. has become an institution—this is something we do not debate. But there is truth to this: Over the past few years we have seen restaurants really making an art out of their brunch menu. Creative egg dishes, bloody mary variations, you name it.
It has gotten to the point where people look forward to new places opening up for brunch, and restaurants put a lot of effort into their menus to set themselves apart from the pack. Sadly, Penn Commons does not. It simply copied the exact same approach it has been doing for years on the other side of town. But, perhaps, with a bit less care.
The bloody marys were good, if a bit weak—until, of course, we noticed that the tomato mix came out of a plastic pre-mixed bottle. Not the kind that was made earlier in the day by the bartender, mind you, but the kind that I can buy at my local CVS.
The entire menu was just the dinner menu (greasy pretzel and all) but with five eggs dishes tacked on. We ordered what seemed to be the most interesting dishes, but they fell flat. The omelet, for instance, had great fish contents, but the feta cheese did nothing to complement it. In fact, it canceled out the taste.
The brunch quesadilla was a novel idea and was absolutely enormous. Sadly, it was stuffed with mostly cheese. I didn’t taste any bacon or meat, only cheese and egg. So the entire thing was quite tasteless and exceptionally greasy. I had to pile on the salsa and guac in thick amounts to get any flavor or texture.
The oysters were rather sad, and didn’t seem to be all that fresh. In fact, the only saving grace of this brunch (besides the enormous televisions blasting football, if you like that sort of thing) were the appetizers.
The pulled pork empanada was great. Piping hot and filled with juicy pork. The mustard on the side really helped with the taste. Likewise, the crostinis and spreads options are great—but they’re also on the dinner menu. Of the three we ordered, which are served in adorable little jars for dipping, the cucumber and dill spread was the best—it was packed with olives.
Yes, the brunch is a bit of a letdown. Unless, of course, you just want to sit at the bar with bottomless pre-packaged bloody marys and root for your football team on the teevee. Hopefully, Penn Commons will get a feel and a menu of its own in time—I would have just gone to District Commons had I known the duplication. At least the football’s not in your face there.
The Bitches say: D. Don’t be lazy. Adding bottomless and a benedict to an already established menu does not a successful brunch make.
700 6th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Penn Commons serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.