I have now successfully brunched by way around a certain block of 11th Street NW in Columbia Heights. Go ahead, call me a brunch slut. I had beer and fried things in the basement at Meridian Pint. I had bloody Marys and pizza upstairs at Red Rocks. They were both good, but Room 11 was always lingering off on the other side of the block, too cool to be open that early in the day.
Then, finally, it opened its doors for brunch last month, and Cori Sue, Amanda Jean, and I were first in line during the first hour of the first day.
There are three reasons why we are this crazy: 1. We are really, really serious about our brunching. 2. We had been to Room 11 for dinner before and nearly died in dimly-lit cheese-and-wine ecstasy. 3. From this previous experience we knew that there are a grand total of three tables in the entire joint and we were banking on snapping up one of them.
No, we don’t squeeze well into little hipster bars when hungover on Sunday mornings. And Room 11’s space is pretty teeny-tiny unless the weather is beautiful and their patio is open. But, fear not, hipster haters, because I seem to have developed some sort of magic restaurant-expanding powers. As I am writing this post, Twitter is flying with chatter about Room 11 announcing an expansion.
Is it true? I email Paul, one of the owners. He responds immediately: It is true. They have signed a lease to take over the adjoining storefront, formerly Jeans ‘N’ Things. (No, not Jeans ‘N’ Things!) They continue: Construction will begin soon and the projected completion date is early summer. “The only regular complaint we get is that there are not enough seats,” said Dan Searing, another one of the owners.
So. Not only did Room 11 answer my secret wishes for a brunch menu, but they also listened to my silent ruminations about how freaking small the place is. Amazing mind readers, those restaurateurs over there. Next up, I’ll be thinking of a tall, charming brunch date, for sure.
The brunch menu is my style. Meaning, a page and a half of fabulous drinks, and then a few gourmet dishes to select from. You can get all types of beautiful wines at brunch—including three choices of sparkling—plus beer, specialty sodas, coffee and tea. I went for the Pretty Penny cocktail, which is cava with pear-infused St. Germain, and pear nectar. It was mighty pretty, indeed, with a star anise floating on the top.
Cori Sue had the Half Smoke, which knocked her on her ass (her words, I swear). She said it was bitter yet delicious. Must be, if it’s made with Sobieski vodka, grapefruit juice, Fever Tree ginger beer, and house-made chili bitters. Lots of flavor in that drink.
To start, we shared Lizzy’s Ginger Scone, which was served with honey butter. It was moist while still being crumbly, which is often rare for scones. The ginger scent and taste were poignant, without being overpowering. The scone has a sugar coating: not too much, not too little, but just the perfect amount of sweetness.
This was the most filling of the appetizer options, even though we could have gone with the wild mushroom bruschetta, or even the Castelvetrano olives or Marcona almonds. To balance out the scone, we ordered a fresh seasonal fruit cup, which was one of the prettiest fruit cups I’ve ever seen. It was served with blackberry and jalapeno coulis on top, which made every piece of fruit taste divine.
For my main dish (and apparently I needed lots of super filling food on this particular Sunday), I ordered the grilled cheese sandwich, which is full of sharp New York cheddar, fresh mozzarella, raclette, and shallot. It comes with spicy marinara dip on the side and a fried egg on top. It was big, filling, but nothing extraordinary.
I should note here, before I let Cori Sue and Amanda Jean wax poetic about what they ate, that in addition to the dishes we tried, the menu also offers a gourmand’s twist on classic brunch dishes like French toast, frittata, smoked salmon, and green eggs and ham. And—here’s the best part, wait for it—selections can be made vegetarian or vegan. Of course, the brunch menu is always subject to change based on what’s fresh, and we prefer it like that.
Cori Sue says: “I had the carmelized onion, arugula, and sharp cheddar quiche, which was served with mixed greens. For starters, the greens were one of the more exciting salads I’ve had in awhile, as it was loaded with parsley, which added a unique touch that I hadn’t expected.
“As far as the quiche goes, the crust was perfectly buttery and flaky, and the filling was moist and fluffy—perfectly done, not over-cooked or under-cooked. I love caramelized onions, and it was filled with them, so I really enjoyed the flavor. However, it was lukewarm, bordering upon cold, when it arrived. I thought it was phenomenal either way, but think of how much better it would have been served warm!”
Amanda Jean says: “Cori Sue and Becca let me take a nibble of their scone and fruit, which are to die for; the scone was like eating a fluffy Paula Dean cloud. I ordered the granola for my entree, which I’m not used to being served at restaurant, but it was delicious nonetheless and satisfied my inner tree-hugger.
“The staff was friendly and attentive, and the drinks were generously strong. The only thing I would change would be the music selection. While Jock Jams is great for a sporting event, Landon Pigg or anything else of the acoustic variety would have fit better with the setting.”
So true, my Bitches. So true.
The Bitches say: A. A charming cocktail bar with great brunch drinks, and unique, delicious in an unpretentious environment. We heart Room11 because we secretly wish we were hipsters.
3234 11th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20010