Sometimes all the planning that goes into a brunch doesn’t pan out in a perfect table. A couple of my dearest friends and I coordinated to meet in Columbia Heights with grand plans to check out Maple’s brunch.
Turns out, the restaurant doesn’t serve brunch on Saturday. Thus began our trek through Columbia Heights to find another brunch table, and there are a lot of options on that 11th Street corridor: The Coupe, Room 11, Wonderland, Kangaroo Boxing Club.
We walked into Meridian Pint and asked the hostess for a table for three. “We have a wait and a number of reservations,” she said. We stared at her blankly, then stared at the 20-some empty tables in the restaurant, then stared at the open entry way where no other people were waiting. Then we walked out.
We nipped caddy-corner to Red Rocks Pizzeria, a Columbia Heights staple and now a successful local chain. Their patio was filling up, but they had a few open picnic tables. The server nodded at us when we walked in, as if to say, take any table you want and I’ll be right there. So chill.
We settled into our picnic table and ordered bottomless mimosas and bloody marys. Our server was super laid back and lovely. In fact, everybody we encountered at the restaurant that day was. They all chipped in and helped one another, and even when rain drove us inside, they didn’t mind where we sat or how long we stayed.
The mimosas didn’t come in champagne flutes, but rather tall glasses for easy, less fancy consumption. The staff walked around with carafes, at the ready to top off any mimosa that looked only half-full.
My Bloody Mary was actually kind of amazing. Super cold and refreshing, with just the right amount of kick and spice. You can have it made with your choice of regular, cucumber, or basil vodka. There are other Mary variations, available, too.
The menu is double-sided. On the front, plenty of brunch dishes. There’s a focus on their egg and scramble options, with everything from the hangover scramble to the seafarer’s scramble. It’s definitely a place to soak up a hangover in a laid-back setting. The “Eggs in Hell” caught my eye; sometimes Saturday mornings really are hell.
On the back of the menu, there are more lunch options, such as salads and appetizers. Overall, it’s a nice selection.
While we waited for Brooke (poor thing, stuck on the metro-ride from hell), we got our drinks and ordered the prosciutto and melon to start. The dish is very pretty, served on slices of honeydew and cantaloupe with a drizzle of balsamic reduction on top. The prosciutto was perfectly sliced and not fatty, which is my chief complaint at some restaurants.
Once Brooke arrived, we really dove into the menu—and the conversation. We ordered the smoked salmon, goat cheese and scrambled egg crostini. It’s on the menu as an entree, but really this plate is for sharing.
The garlic knots were ordered as a necessary greasy carb. They are hot little garlic dough balls covered in grated parmesan with a big mug of marinara sauce for dipping. They are amazing—and totally perfect for a pizza joint.
We enjoyed our drinks and nibbled on the appetizers over much conversation. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so there was plenty to cover.
For our entrees, we each ordered dishes that allowed us to try the best of all worlds at Red Rocks. For instance, the lemon-ricotta pancakes are on the menu as a separate appetizer, but Brooke ordered The Deluxe, which is a brunch entree with those very same pancakes on the side. Why wouldn’t you?
The Deluxe is their Grand Slam: two eggs to order with your choice or meat, potatoes and side of either pancakes or french toast. Everything was good – nothing was fantastic. It was solid breakfast food but nothing fancy other than the ricotta pancakes.
The lemon-ricotta pancakes were served with strawberry sauce and extra ricotta. The cheese was cooked inside the flapjacks, and it made it sweet enough–the strawberries were hardly needed. They were good if not a little chewy.
I wanted the French Toast but also a breakfast sandwich. Red Rocks does a mean combination, with a French Toast sammy. It was your choice of meat and cheddar scrambled eggs on the brandy-spiked french toast, with a side of breakfast potatoes. I couldn’t even finish it.
The best part was the brandy-spiked french toast, a house bread soaked with cinnamon and brandy, griddled and served with maple syrup. Absolutely delicious and beyond gluttonous.
Saro wanted a pizza, but not a breakfast pizza, so he strayed to the lunch menu. The pizzas are all delectable. Saro opted for the Ananas, made with tomato sauce, mozzarella, crispy prosciutto and chunks of pineapple. He finished it off, so it must have been a great pie.
The Bitches say: A. A solid, laid-back, not-too-many-frills brunch with bottomless mimosas and friendly accommodating staff.
Red Rocks Pizza
1036 Park Road N.W.
Red Rocks serves brunch on Saturday and Sundays.