Note from the Bitches: Introducing Jon Wye, our newest Guest Bitch (or should we say, “Guest, Bitch”) and the man behind every D.C. hipster’s favorite clothing company. Jon has been designing unique leather belts, cotton shirts, and other fun, hand-made accessories for nearly 10 years. On Sunday, we dragged him from his workshop in Northeast to a boozy burlesque brunch. Here’s what he thought of it.
The outside of SAX is architecturally nondescript with gold leaf accents and a red carpet. I drove by it twice thinking this couldn’t be the place I was meeting my friends. Were they sending me to a phony address so they wouldn’t have to eat with me? Their loss, because I was still looking good in the outfit I was wearing from the night before. Too many gin and tonics.
The entrance felt formal and high-end-ish, and the staff were very attentive. Free coat check. Yes … If I weren’t wearing my vintage grey LEATHER Members Only jacket. I was late and the host was kind enough to walk me to the table.
The lights are dim, giving the huge dining room just the right setting for a Bond film, and the perfect level of illumination for eyeballs hurting from those gin and tonics. You expect Russian special forces to descend from the chandeliers, crashing down into the cushioned benches.
Everything has gold leaf accents. The waitresses wear corsets. Be classy and don’t hit on them.
We ordered. Every restaurant’s menu is hand-in-hand with their image, so I guess the menu was supposed to be high end as well. They plopped down little muffins and unimaginative butter while we waited. The muffins kept us satiated but tasted like they were baked in a monster batch at the beginning of the week.
There were big words like Kobe beef and fromage and Norwegian Salmon. I was a little disappointed to see few breakfast foods on the brunch menu. Adding pancakes to the menu wouldn’t make it iHOP or less classy. When brunching I look for food I know I can’t make or a solid comfort food (like pancakes) with an interesting twist. I didn’t see that on the menu.
Everything felt like it could have been cobbled together with Sysco food supplies. With eleven of us at the table we had a pretty good sampling of the brunch menu, and I’d say only a few of us thought the food was any good.
My friend Robb ordered the Lobster Hash. Boy, that sounded really good on paper, but we all know what a reheated frozen lobster tastes like. Cruise food. The bag of frozen inexpensive lobster at Costco always seems like a good idea, then it sits in your freezer for the next year until you have a party and want to feel fancy. Luckily you mix it with a lot of cheese and it does the trick. But here, no.
Two of our brunchers thoroughly enjoyed the Kobe burger, but anything with any seafood was visually pleasing and poorly executed. It wasn’t until the end of the meal that I learned Brooke did not order soup, but rather grits. If you’ve dined in all corners of D.C. you know many restaurants take their grits very seriously. Soupy grits are unacceptable.
The staff were johnny-on-the-spot with the bottomless mimosas, which helped lubricate the meal. They didn’t hold back, and that’s exactly what you want for $25 bottomless with a two-hour limit. But $25 for what is probably boxed wine and OJ is far too expensive. More expensive than any other bottomless in town, Becca told me.
The eleven of us drank long enough to see five different burlesque acts. The performances happen every 15 minutes on a big stage above the restaurant’s main bar, so the dancers are far away, high up, and behind glass.
The dancing was poorly choreographed, out of sync, and we were not drunk enough to be in awe. There were boobies with pasties, so, this place is perfect for when you turn 13 and your parents mistakenly let you pick your birthday meal.
I’m hesitant to be too harsh on the dancers. They undoubtedly have day jobs and do this once a week, but the dancing, like the entire place, took itself too seriously for what it was delivering. (We all made up stories that they were putting themselves through medical school.)
At least at a drag brunch the intent is not high-end perfection, but rather simple fun, so it allows us to forgive a lot. “Why didn’t that drag queen perform that dance move with more grace?” would be an unacceptable question at a drag brunch. So when SAX is trying to sell mystique, they better have it in stock.
SAX is an experience brunch, and an expensive experience at that. Good for taking your conservative parents, whom you are just dying to offend with your new urban lifestyle. Or you go because you like the Jersey Shore. If that’s the case then this place is the swankiest!
The Bitches say: C- My stomach is still upset from the food and the dancing.
734 Eleventh St. NW
Washington DC 20004
SAX serves up its Burlesque Brunch on Sundays.