I’m pretty selective of the Bitches with whom I brunch. People may say that—but I actually am. One recurring brunching Bitch is Daniela, who experienced the first spectacular brunch at Lavagna with me years ago, and has returned for many more girl-talk-and-mimosa adventures. Our twosome became a threesome when I decided Daniela’s friend, Cara, was pretty awesome, too. Yeah, it’s hard to find a funnier, sassier duo than these two—who are both incredibly hard-working and accomplished yet playful, down-to-earth, and open minded. Oh, and they’re total babes.
We were invited in to brunch at Pennsylvania 6, a new high-end steakhouse on Farragut Square. I’d been to Pennsylvania 6 right when it opened, and I had enjoyed a wine-fueled, gluttonous, glorious dinner with six friends on a Saturday night. It’s hard to black out at dinner, but I managed to do so that night. Sorry I’m not sorry.
I love the decor at Pennsylvania 6—it’s not unlike Le Diplomate, with its contrived, bright and fun take on a restaurant from another time. When you enter, there’s an enormous white marble bar with red leather stools, cheeky chalkboard signs touting the specials, and black-and-white striped tapestries hanging down from the ceilings. Behind the bar is the raw bar, which is lined with white subway tiles. I love that the space puts a playful, glamorous spin on a traditional seafood and steak spot. There’s tons of jazzy, bright art on the walls in the backroom and the vibe is glam and fun. I quite like it.
In the way of beverages, you can order brunch cocktails—Bloody Mary, mimosa, or Bellini—for $8, or make use of the champagne bar by ordering a bottle for the table. Bottles begin at Veuve for $65 down to a $25 Cuvee bubbly.
I hate to start with the best part: but this champagne bar, Bitches, was phenomenal. You order a bottle of bubbly to your table, which is poured by the waiter and kept on ice in a stand aside your table. Then, you mosey on over to the champagne bar, which is set up along a bar in the back room that was back lit, appropriately with a vintage sign stating “BAR.” Got it. There lies a stunning assortment of fresh-squeezed juices, bitters, and berries. So, you can select from peach, pineapple, grapefruit, orange, or mango juices. Then, select from an assortment of cocktail bitters. Finally, add cubes of sugar, fresh berries, or mango slices into your beverage and voila! you’ve concocted the champagne cocktail of your dreams.
The second best part about brunch at Pennsylvania 6? The Dutch Baby Pancake, which arrived at our table shortly after the champagne. This souffle style pancake was served in a skillet—a warm, moist, fluffy concoction: a baked pancake with more eggs and butter. The consistency was phenomenally satisfying. It was served with whipped ricotta, fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and maple syrup.
The champagne bar and the Dutch pancake make brunch at Pennsylvania 6 a must—but we’ve only just begun. Pennsylvania Six has quite a lot to offer.
Next up, the crudo sampler. The long, narrow plate featured three types of raw fish. First up, the Kona Kampachi crudo, with gooseberries, cumin, salt, and salsa verde. The black kingfish crudo had avocado, ginger, palm hearts, serrano pepper, and citrus ceviche sauce. Lastly, the yellowfin tuna crudo had yuzu-miso, mango, roasted peanuts, and spicy cress. They were all delicious—fresh and flavorful—but I preferred the citrus-flavored king fish over the other two.
I’m never one to forgo oysters, so we selected a dozen from the wide variety of oysters available. The oysters were served in the traditional fashion—on ice with teensy tiny seafood forks, lemon wedges, cocktail sauce and mignonette.
The appetizer game at Pennsylvania 6 is strong—we loved each one that we sampled. After the crudo sampler, the ricotta arrived. The ricotta didn’t look too terribly exciting—it was some typical looking toasted bread and some white stuff in a mason jar— but looks were deceiving in this instance. The smooth, creamy, sweet ricotta with olive oil and pepper spread across the white bread was really damn good. This is a great way to start any meal at Pennsylvania 6 en lieu of regular bread service. It also came with a orange fig jam to sweeten the deal but it was unnecessary, if you ask me‚ as the ricotta was delightful on its own.
Bitches love tuna tartare, so we ordered that, too, despite already devouring the crudo sampler. And I’m glad that we did. The yellowfin tuna tartare was tossed in a habanero aioli and served with a layer of fresh mango relish. For dipping, you used plantain chips. I mean, does it get any better than tuna with mango and plantains? No, no it doesn’t.
Sadly, the entrees weren’t as spectacular as the appetizers, which had already set a high benchmark for the meal.
Given the high level of consumption, we decided on two entrees to share between the trio. First, the crab cake Benedict, served with crab croquettes, baby kale, citrus Hollandaise, and espelette pepper. The dish looked rather small in size, and at first I was put off by the crab croquettes rather than cakes, but it ended up making the dish easier to share. The two poached eggs were done well—nothing amazing—but served with a nice citrus Hollandaise that was light and well done. The crab croquettes looked sort of fried and unappetizing, but they were filled with fresh, jumbo lump crab meat and really quite good. Again, looks can be deceptive in these parts.
We also shared the lobster roll, which is on the lunch and dinner menus. It was served in the traditional New England style: with lumps of lobster on a toasted, butter bun. It was delicious—as were the hearty duck fat fries that came along with it.
Last but not least, we sampled the crème brûlée sampler, which was a trio. The sampler included the bourbon vanilla, the dark chocolate coffee, and the spiced pumpkin. The bourbon vanilla was just so-so—it was on par with the average crème brûlées I’ve had in my life. The pumpkin was a bit runny. But, the dark chocolate coffee, topped with sea salt, was absolutely delicious. We devoured that one and left the others barely touched.
The Bitches say: A-. Pennsylvania 6’s champagne bar and Dutch pancake are worth the trip. Everything on the menu, from the crudo to the oysters to the seafood was top notch. The service was a bit awkward and the prices slightly higher than an average fab spot.
1350 Eye St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Pennsylvania 6 serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.