Two Logan Circle girls were on their way to Capitol Hill for brunch when they ran into a slight snag. We were meeting Cathy, a sweet little blonde who runs a fashion website called Poor Little It Girl. But our lovely MyTaxi driver had us stuck in traffic. It wasn’t his fault—the Rock & Roll Marathon had shut down huge chunks of the city, and we had completely failed to take that into consideration when planning.
Cori Sue, perhaps, should have known. She crushed the half marathon in around an hour and half that morning, no big deal. But there we were, sitting in the taxi, glancing at the time on our iPhones, apologizing to Cathy that we were not even on the usual Bitches time (10 minutes late, of course), but rather, a shockingly rude 40 minutes behind.
Our MyTaxi driver finally decided to take another route and dodged more traffic by doing a big circle around Eastern Market, eventually getting us to the extremely busy Barracks Row. This little street was slammed with people after the race; they were all on the hunt for brunch.
We bopped over to Senart’s Oyster and Chop House, which looks like it should be on a dock on the water somewhere, but instead has been on Eighth Street for, oh, forever. (My historical suspicion turned out to be true: Senart’s was established in 1913, when the Senart family used to live on the second floor, serving up their oysters on the first floor.)
The restaurant is very long and very narrow, with a huge wooden bar taking up more than half the length of the place. You have to squeeze behind all the barstools, past the wood-burning fireplace, to get to the rear of the restaurant where the tables and kitchen are. The unusual shape makes it charming.
We eventually found Cathy, who was sitting in a quiet corner in the very back of the restaurant. We introduced ourselves, apologized profusely for our tardiness, and chatted about her website and Washington. She’s on the hunt for a fabulous job in fashion (and she has the chops to kill it, people), so reach out if you have any leads.
Our server brought us mimosas and Bloody Marys. The brunch deal at Senart’s is $4 Bloody Marys and Oyster Shooters from 10 to 3 on Saturdays. The Mary came with two olives and wasn’t very spicy, which was rather disappointing. I didn’t finish it. Cori Sue and Cathy, however, each had two mimosas, and were giggling away by the end of the brunch.
To start, we, of course, had to sample from the raw bar. There’s a selection of jumbo shrimp or oysters in various quantities. We ordered both and they arrived on a huge platter of ice.
I’m not a huge fan of oysters, but I do love shrimp. The shrimp were absolutely enormous, fresh and delicious, and the dish came with different dipping sauces—not just the usual cocktail sauce—like a red wine and cucumber mignonette.
Cathy said she thought the oysters were phenomenal, but Cori Sue, ever the Bitch, was not as impressed, saying, while they were good, they weren’t the best oysters she’s ever had.
The entrees we ordered all had a common theme: too much egg, not enough of anything else. Cathy’s Eastern Shore Breakfast, for instance, seemed to be a big skillet of scrambled egg with barely any of the promised ingredients: fried oysters (only a tiny pile atop), gruyere, home fries with peppers, onions and Senart’s aioli. She sort of shoved the egg around the plate, digging for the ingredients buried inside.
I, of course, went for the Benny. At Senart’s it’s a crab and prosciutto eggs Benedict. The hollandaise sauce had an interesting kick, and there was plenty of crab and prosciutto on top of the English muffins. The poached eggs were overcooked, unfortunately. The dish was solid, and it went quickly, as I was starving.
Cori Sue ordered the grilled shrimp omelet. It was big (again, so much egg!) and supposedly filled with grilled spring onion and brie, and topped with shellfish cream, but was similarly sparse on the accoutrements. CS did not notice any onion, and it could have used a lot more brie, shrimp, and sauce.
Halfway through she was left with a lot of eggy omelet but nothing to go with it. The shrimp were thinly sliced inside the omelet and the shellfish cream was delicious and flavorful—but the omelet could have used more of both.
The home fries (read: potatoes) that were on the side of every dish seemed as if they could have been dropped in a frying pan from a frozen bag (you know, the kind that are perfectly cut in squares so you know they were made by a machine, not a human). The fries were relatively tasteless and were clearly just a plate filler.
We also had a side of fruit—pineapple, grapes, and the dreaded honeydew—we only ate the pineapple.
I had to nip off, as I had another Saturday appointment to catch, but Cori Sue and Cathy stayed for dessert. They ordered the bread pudding, and I heard from them both afterwards that it was truly delicious.
It had raisins in it, which Cori Sue doesn’t typically care for, but it worked here. It was very flavorful, drizzled with a house caramel sauce, and served with an enormous dollop of house-made, thick, and fluffy whipped cream.
With that dessert, the end of the brunch was just as good as the beginning. It’s just the main course that needs a bit of work.
The Bitches say: B- Great atmosphere and a good raw bar, but the entrees need some work.
Senart’s Oyster Bar & Chop House
520 8th St SE
Washington, DC 20003
Senart’s serve brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.