When I first heard about Pinstripes, a restaurant that offers brunch and bowling, I was instantly excited. What a smart idea, I thought. But then I realized it was a chain, and that made me a little deflated. Is this just another mini Dave and Busters invading Washington?
I went ahead and made plans with friends to suss it out. Besides, what could be better than bowling, bocce, and brunch? We can make the most of it.
It was Easter Sunday, and I should have known better. Every family with young children in the D.C. area also thought that bowling, bocce, and brunch is the perfect Sunday family fun activity. The place was crawling with kids in pastel attire, and a frightening-looking Easter bunny was silently pacing about. Those things scare me.
The restaurant, which is in an enormous space in the back of the The Shops at Georgetown Park, just off the C&O canal on Wisconsin, is a bit confusing when you walk in. Or should I say chaotic? I wasn’t sure whether to check in at the main host stand (for a table) or the game host stand (for a game).
After much inquiry with the staff and some conferring with our party, we decided to put our name down for a game of bowling and perch at the bar’s high tops for brunch—the wait for a table in the main dining room was far too long. We pushed a few tables together and ordered mimosas and Bloody Marys from the bar.
The bar staff was super friendly, and while they were juggling a lot of orders from a massive dining room, along with our thirsty group that had just saddled up to the bar, they got our drinks in a split. My Bloody Mary was made with jalapeno-infused vodka and I hit up the tiny Mary Bar for accoutrements, hot sauce, and spices. They kept the mimosas coming.
The brunch at Pinstripes is a buffet—a kid-heavy buffet, which is generally a frightening affair. But this buffet was very well-kept and organized, with various stations for various things, even a kids’ buffet station that was on a kid-height table, serving up chicken fingers, pizza, and French fries.
The piece de resistance of the entire buffet was the omelet bar, which is quite gorgeous. All the fixings are on white plates that are balanced on large tomato cans. Omelet chefs in tall toques were quickly taking orders and making custom omelets with all sorts of ingredients, from meats to fancy cheeses and vegetables. The chefs were quite charming and funny, too.
The second best station was for the waffles. Tiny, bite-sized waffles were being made and covered with your choice of toppings. You could get it with fresh berries and balsamic cream, cinnamon and apples, or—perhaps the best waffle topping ever—bananas foster and Nutella. Those little Nutella waffles were just delightful.
There were plenty of other stations beyond those, including a granola bar, lots of fresh fruit, plenty of entree items such as pastas and pizzas, and a salad bar. We made lots of trips for multiple rounds of exploration.
The chef’s features on Easter Sunday were interesting things like roasted pear and gorgonzola flatbread, pan-seared diver scallops, and goat cheese and cashew gelato—clearly unique, thoughtful items. This is not your typical buffet.
The grand finale was the dessert station, which had a selection of house-made pies and cakes—even homemade Peeps!—and a chocolate foundation with fresh fruit and rice krispies treats for dipping. We made sure to load up on Easter treats before we retreated back to our bar high-tops and check on our bowling time.
After brunch, it was time to bowl. We each got shoes and were escorted all the way to the very back of the restaurant, where there was a complete bowling alley, much to my surprise. I expected a restaurant to have a make-shift alley, and only a few lanes, but Pinstripes’ facilities are the full monty.
Besides the brand-new, non-stinky bowling shoes, the other plus for a fancy bowling alley is that there aren’t the hard plastic, shiny seats that typical bowling alleys have. Instead, Pinstripes has plush leather sofas and a small army of cocktail waiters ready to bring you another mimosa or Mary. We also had the option of nipping back to the buffet and bringing food to our lane, too. This is how I like to bowl!
I pulled on my Big Lebowski pants and entered our names into the computer. It’s on, Bitches. I was in it to win it.
We each picked our colorful bowling balls and swung at the pins, some with a streak of gutter balls, some with some strikes and spares—to much applause or heckling. The drinks were flowing, and we were full on a great brunch. Topping it off with a fun game of bowling was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends.
The best part? I kicked everyone’s butt and won the game!
The Bitches say: A-. We’re not typically fans of buffet brunches, but this is great for a buffett. The mimosas flow constantly, and there’s bocce, bowling and (Easter) bunnies. Fun for all ages.
1064 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007