I really wanted to love Tap & Parlour. Its website had all the makings of a great brunch spot: It seemed low-key, focused on beer, and open to big brunch parties. The best part was that bottomless mimosas were being offered for $7, making this the cheapest bottomless deal I’ve seen in this city.
I emailed. They said sure, we’ll take a table of 10. I left it at that.
I was running late that Sunday morning, taking the Metro because I knew there would be many mimosas involved that afternoon, but my Bitches had arrived promptly. I started getting text messages:
“Pretend you don’t see us when you come in so you can properly experience the miserable bitch at the door.”
“Can we go somewhere that’s not blasting rap music? It’s 11 a.m.”
Oof. I was preparing myself for the worst when I walked in. The woman at the door clearly had refused to seat the group until we were all present. We were lead to a big table, and I got to take in the surroundings.
Tap & Parlour is one of the ever-revolving restaurants that take up the space above Bohemian Caverns. It’s such a prime space for a restaurant, right on the corner of U Street and 11th. Floor to ceiling windows give prime people-watching vantage on such a busy corner.
Unfortunately, Tap & Parlour is just a bit shoddy. It tries to go all Eighteenth Street Lounge with its vintage-looking sofas, chairs, and coffee tables, but then there’s a flat screen TV on every wall, confusing the lounge for a sports bar. The floor and the bathrooms seem dirty from the night before, and the tables are rickety.
Not to mention, they really were blasting rap music. At 11 a.m.
Deciding we needed a drink or five to stomach the bass thumping that early, we ordered mimosas and Marys. The Bloody Marys were interesting—they came packed with bits of veggies (tons of garlic), which all gathered at the bottom of the glass once you drank it. They were properly spicy, just sort of odd tasting, and didn’t really hit the spot.
The mimosas came in wine glasses and at first were pleasingly bubbly with just a tad bit of orange juice. However, as the restaurant started filling up, the orange-juice-to-champagne ratio swung quickly the other way, and soon we were drinking merely orange juice.
That orange juice was refilled quickly, though. In fact, our service was excellent. I didn’t catch our waitress’ name, but her attitude made a stark contrast to the hostess. Our table was loud and demanding, as usual, and she was managing us efficiently and without complaint, along with numerous other tables around us.
She didn’t even mess up our enormous brunch order. But maybe that’s because 7 out of 10 of us got the chicken and waffles. It was teased on the menu with a simple, “Well … you know” So, well, we wanted to know.
They give you the option of white or dark meat, but honestly we couldn’t tell the difference. The chicken pieces were sort of pathetic—not much meat on the bones, and didn’t have any flavor. The waffles were just as meh. The plastic pee cups holding the syrup didn’t really help the presentation much.
My beau got the French twist, and was mighty pleased with it. Two flaky croissant halves were dipped in cinnamon and vanilla and topped with kiwi, strawberries, and cream cheese. This description sounds amazing, but in reality the dish looked like a teenager had gone shopping on the wrong side of Giant and decided to make something colorful for breakfast.
The Cuban Scramble did seem a bit more thought-out. Scrambled eggs were served with black beans, sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream, fresh salsa, and fried plantains. The plantain slices were huge, and there was a massive dollop of sour cream on the top. I always love a bit of Florida in my brunch, but this was hard to stomach.
And what is this? It’s a croissant out of the bag topped with some canned whipped cream. It’s dubbed “French toast” on the menu.
We also tried the shrimp and grits, which were not great. The grits themselves were meant to be stone-ground, but they looked and tasted like a pile of mush. The grilled shrimp and tomatoes in the white wine garlic sauce wasn’t anything to wax on about; in fact there was lots of oil floating on top of that sauce. Also, why is this dish $18?
There was a dish on the menu that resembled the Denny’s Grand Slam. It wasn’t very creative, just standard pancakes, eggs, and bacon. The pancakes seemed homemade and the eggs were cooked sunny side up.
In fact, the brunch dishes were much like the interior of the restaurant: a bit shabby and thrown together. Not completely fresh, but I guess you can overlook the crappiness if you drink more.
There are a couple of vegetarian options on the menu—a veggie burger and a Mediterranean vegetable pie—which we appreciate. And they also offer a selection of omelets and salads, but I can’t vouch for their freshness or taste; I can only say that the scallions on the Parlour Salad slightly resemble worms.
One thing to note about this brunch is that they don’t split checks more than three ways, which is tricky when you’re always brunching with ten or more people.
The Bitches say: C- The only redeeming qualities (and why it’s not a D) are the ridiculously cheap bottomless price tag and the good table (not hostess) service.
Tap & Parlour
2001 11th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001