I have been to the Brixton four times in the last week. The reason for my frequency is because the place is right around the corner from my new house, but also it seems to be playing host to some fabulous events, like last night’s Picture Perfect Evening hosted by Urban Daddy and Samsung and planned by the ladies of BrandLinkDC.
Another reason for all the visits: the rooftop is amazingly huge—with two bars and dozens of barstools around the perimeter, plus a bird’s eye view of Nelly’s patio. But after all that rooftop drinking, I was still wondering about the food—would it live up to the ambiance and rooftop?
I’m British. This place is trying to be British. So when I arrived for brunch on Sunday, I wanted a real English breakfast: thick slices of ham, runny eggs, burnt toast and luminous mushy peas. I wanted enormous cuts of roast beef and fluffy Yorkshire puddings. I wanted thick, salty chips covered in malt vinegar.
And I wanted it all to be amazingly filling even if it did taste slightly bad. This is, after all, the English cuisine.
But the Brixton is also the newest venture from the Hilton brothers—the duo who also own Marvin, Blackbyrd, Patty Boom Boom, ESL, and other wildly popular D.C. haunts. So, that fact instantly raises the level of expectation for the quality of the food. Marvin was one of my favorite brunches a few years ago and somewhere both Bitches regularly dine.
Our group arrived when the place opened, at 11, because we hadn’t made a reservation and we were worried that it would be packed. It wasn’t, there was no one else inside except the staff when we arrived, and yet the hostess told us that she couldn’t seat a table of eight.
I was perplexed and challenged her. “Well, can we sit on the second floor?”
“No, it’s not that we’re full, it’s that we can’t push the tables together,” she said.
Huh? Excuse me? Half of our group took initiative, went to the second floor, and started pushing tables together for our party of eight.
Then she said, “Fine, OK, we can push some tables together down here on the first floor.”
OK, great, so they’re not attached to the floor? Awesome. We pushed together enough tables to seat our party of eight. A party of eight isn’t that big, really, and wouldn’t you be happy that such a large party walked in your doors right when you opened? What a bizarre policy.
The service had the same punk, hipster kind of attitude that seems to permeate all of the Hilton brothers’ establishments. Clearly, these people are all brought into the brothers’ inner circle, as they act like they are personal friends with Thievery and, therefore, far too cool to be serving your coffee.
But even though their noses were slightly turned up, the staff was on point with the delivery of our drinks. Our coffee cups were never empty—although the coffee was rather bland.
The mimosa ($8) was good, but there was no bottomless option so I had just one. They did have a selection of breakfast cocktails, like a Shandy and a Snakebite. We ordered the Pimm’s Cup, which was rather enormous.
While we waited for the final straggler of our group, we ordered the French Toast for the table to share. It was divine: a sticky toffee French toast! Fluffy and moist with the perfect amount of toffee sauce. It was sprinkled with salted nuts. What a great take on French toast.
The brunch menu is small, but it does offer some standard brunch fare along with some lunch items—those being the classic English dishes like fish and chips.
The late arrival to our brunch party was a vegan, and the only option for her on the menu was the herb and local lettuce salad, which just sounds like a plate of lettuce to me. But, it arrived with some seasonal vegetables sprinkled on top, including some beets, which were great, and was covered with a light house vinaigrette. Unfortunately, however, not substantial enough at all for a veggie.
My Benny—a Pastrami Salmon Eggs Benedict—was very tasty, though the muffin was a bit hard to cut; was it old? The basil Hollandaise had a green tint and was divine. The side of greens didn’t have a taste to them, but offset the dish perfectly. It would have been too much with chips.
The fish and chips won the presentation award. We all wowed when it arrived—three massive filets of fried haddock served with thinly cut, slightly burnt chips (I’m not a fan of these types of fries, ones that are too skinny and overcooked), and a side of mushy peas! Love the attempt at authenticity with the luminous mushy peas and malt vinegar.
The duck confit omelet looked plain upon presentation but was actually very, very good. The eggs were cooked perfectly and were filled with a generous portion of duck. It was also filled with spinach—a nice surprise that cut the richness of the duck fat and the eggs.
On the average side was the sweet potato ‘hash’ served alongside the omelet. I may not know the exact definition of hash, but what appeared on my plate was a huge pile of sautéed onions spiked with a few slices of sweet potatoes. It tasted fine—but I wasn’t going to eat more than a few bites either. It seemed like this pile of onions would have been more appropriate on a steak or a hamburger.
I wish the side dish would have followed the example of the spinach in the omelet—a nice green salad would have been the perfect thing to counterbalance the duck.
The Brixton burger was amazing and garnered rave reviews. They serve it at dinner, too: aged cheddar, house-made pickles, and shallot marrow jam on a Challah bun. They Brixton is a bit stingy with the ketchup, but everything else was perfect. The meat was really thick and juicy, the bun perfectly toasted, and it’s topped with a big leaf of fresh lettuce.
While we were eating they dropped a basket of bread on the table, which was great, if it had arrived thirty minutes prior.
The Bitches say: B- A popular British bar with a great patio on U Street. Brunch has huge potential, but they definitely have some kinks to work out.
901 U Street N.W.
The Brixton serves brunch on Sundays.