It’s so very odd to see a DJ spinning in front of a set of black-and-white historical photos. Or a sous chef flipping omelets in front of an oil painting of a former president. But that is exactly what Sunday Funday at Teddy & The Bully Bar entails.
It’s not just the gorgeous presidential decor (brilliantly masterminded by Miss Maggie O’Neill). It’s the odd juxtaposition of drunken brunch revelers bopping about in such a classy, sunlight-filled joint.
The restaurant is downtown near my office, so it’s where I often schedule business lunches and dinners. It certainly felt rather strange to be saddling up to the Bloody Mary bar, which is right under a gorgeous chandelier made of glass monocles.
But besides my initial hesitation, I was quick to get into the groove with good ol’ Teddy. The music was blasting, I was there with a big group of friends — the bottomless was pouring, and people were chatting across tables. Is this D.C.’s newest party brunch?
Teddy & The Bully Bar is certainly making a strong attempt at it on Sundays. The restaurant is offering an unlimited prix fixe brunch for $40 per person. With that, you get as many brunch items as you’d like from the menu, along with the two endless stations: pancakes and omelets.
Oh, and did I mention the requisite unlimited mimosas and Bloody Marys? What is a party brunch without them? The Bloodies’ option comes with the Teddy hot sauce bar, which is perched on two barrels right near the front door (under Teddy’s monocles). You can make them as peppery or spicy as you like ‘em.
If mimosas and Marys don’t suit your fancy, you can order from the cocktail menu. There are plenty of imaginative options, like the Martha Roosevelt, a gin drink with yogurt cordial and prosecco, and the Little Texas, made with elderflower liqueur, rum, and prosecco.
The restaurant is huge, and the brunch party invites you to move around and perhaps even meet other revelers. There’s the aforementioned Bloody Mary bar, the flapjacks station, and the farm fresh omelets. At each of them, you’re bumping up against other brunch-goers, waiting your turn.
The flapjacks station offers buttermilk pancakes with your choice of blueberries, bananas, huckleberries, strawberries, pecans, almonds, or pistachios. The omelets can be made with roasted peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, onion, or a selection of cheeses. You know, the kitchen sink.
Then you get to the main menu. Like I said, it’s unlimited. We were a big table, so the natural first course is “one of everything, please.” Our server happily obliged and pretty soon the dishes started arriving. To our disappointment, they were all teeny tiny, and we ended up ordering duplicates of plenty of the items.
We ordered a couple of flatbreads to share. They arrived on wooden cutting boards. The cheese, onion, egg flatbread was cooked with caramelized onions, fonduta, and quail eggs. The lox flatbread was served with creme fraiche, crispy capers, red onions, and micro dill. The BLT flatbread was served with roasted tomato, applewood bacon, and escarole.
The seasonal fruit and berries were gorgeous, served in a martini glass with quark cheese and nut topping. The grilled pears were served on crostinis with smoked blue cheese, arugula, and topped with a merlot vinaigrette. All of this was good, but nothing over-the-top fantastic. What else can you expect for an unlimited option?
Abe’s kale salad was my favorite dish—I’m on a kale kick lately—and its lemon vinaigrette was delightful. It was served with toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries, and dehydrated currants mixed in, and topped with shaved parmesan. Wish I could make this at home.
The southern style “pickled” shrimp cocktail shooter was my next order. The server questioned me, though: Just one? Yes, just one. Again, I should have known better. A pair of lonely shrimp arrived. So we ordered about four more of those. I’m telling you, these dishes are dainty.
The fried chicken and biscuits—yes, we ordered about five of these, too—were mini biscuit bites served with honey, mayo, and pickers. They arrived piping hot, and they were delicious. Everyone wanted one.
At this point, we were getting a bit full, and we had lost all track of what we had ordered or hadn’t ordered—or what was still coming. We took a breather for an hour, grabbed more Marys and mimosas, and exchanged ridiculous stories about our Saturday nights.
You know an unlimited brunch is good when it requires an intermission—a break to digest and drink—before we continue. Fully rested, and beginning to dance in our seats to the music, we decided to dig into the next wave of dishes that were arriving.
There was the smoked salmon, served on pullman bread, with smoked crème fraîche and dill. They were like the miniature sandwich bites my grandmother used to serve. The crispy fried local oyster “po’ boy” had remoulade and frisée. It looked good but was gone before I could snag it.
The creamy mascarpone grits with made au gratin and the mac and artisanal cheese were two side dishes that were mainly fillers, which we certainly didn’t need. Not only because the better stuff could be ordered, but also because they were both fairly bland.
Then there was another wave of dishes, which I couldn’t even touch or else they would have had to roll me down 19th Street back to Dupont. The croque monsieur was made with prosciutto, gruyere, and dijon. The BLT grilled cheese was made with red wine reduction and tomato soup.
The grand finale wasn’t dessert, but rather the one dish we hadn’t ordered. I decided we should make this brunch a total coup and finish off the entire menu. And so the Benedict arrived. It was rather sad. A single benny half on its lonesome, with peameal bacon, hollandaise, poached egg on an english muffin. The thing looked a bit like it had been sitting under a heat lamp for a while—and we were all too full to try it.
The Bitches say: B+. A solid party brunch. The dishes are certainly hit or miss, but the bottomless is flowing and the music pumping.
Teddy & The Bully Bar
1200 19th St NW
Washington, DC 20036