I should have gone to The Hamilton with a brunch party of 20 people. Not just because the new restaurant is so big it can fit perhaps 10 parties of 20 at once, but also because it would have allowed me to try more than three or four things on the enormous novella of a menu.
Instead, last Saturday, I was meeting just three girlfriends for brunch: Stef, of City Girl Blogs; Steph, my Godsister (if that is such a word; her mother is my Godmother); and Brooke, my bestie. I sat in the bar area of what I thought was the front room of the restaurant, waiting patiently for my ever-tardy ladies to arrive. What I didn’t realize was that there is another entrance, two rooms over, where they were patiently waiting for me.
And so this is my first piece of advice when brunching at The Hamilton: Select an entrance or meeting point, as it’s easy to lose your friends—or not find them at all—in such a large establishment.
It’s so large, in fact, that underneath the three dining rooms, there is a theater that seats 450 people. And somehow this epic restaurant manages to keep its well-oiled wheels turning twenty-four hours a day. Yes, you read that right. It is the first relatively upscale (read: non-Diner-esque) restaurant in D.C. to serve at all hours. And this, my dear friends, is rather exciting.
Inside, The Hamilton is like Old Ebbitt Grill on supersonic steroids. It’s like the Clyde’s group has finally found an outlet for its intense Audubon obsession. There are birds everywhere: hanging from the ceiling, between the booths, in the artwork. It’s like a massive hunting lodge that can fit a table of 60 people but also has live entertainment in the basement. Sort of odd.
The brunch menu, unfortunately, is not served 24 hours, but only on Saturdays and Sundays during normal brunch hours. But they do allow you to order from the sushi menu during brunch hours, as well, which is a nice option. Though you hardly need to venture off the core brunch—as I said earlier, the menu is enormous.
It’s also interesting. There are lots of quirks, such as the “brunchies,” which include buttermilk biscuit with pear butter, ham, onion & cheddar scone, spiced pumpkin muffin, salted caramel pecan sticky bun, or chocolate cherry hazelnut biscotti for $4 a piece. In addition to a slew of breakfast dishes, there’s also pasta, sandwiches, cheeses and charcuterie to select from.
At first impression, we felt like we were going to be well taken care of by the attentive service. They were always flitting around. Though, in the end, they continuously forgot things we asked for or took to long to get back to us (to the point where we had to ask a manager for our coffee and the right sausage that we ordered, which never showed up). The service overall was iffy—it was all quantity and no quality.
Mimosas and Marys are $9, and there’s no bottomless deal. The mimosa was pulpy and thick, with not a lot of champagne, but it came with an orange peel on top. The coffee is good, but again, not bottomless. It comes in a French press large enough to hold just a cup-full, and also with steamed milk, which is a nice, luxurious touch.
In celebration of the King’s birthday, we ordered the Elvis French toast for the table to share. It was five thick slices of French toast pasted together with heavy peanut butter, syrup and slices of banana. It was a bit too much peanut butter for me, but I can see how this dish would delight a child—very sticky and sweet.
Stef, being a regular at The Hamilton, went for her usual, The Hamilton Burger. She eats it off the bun, and gave me the strip of burnt “house-cured” bacon that was balanced on top. The beef was topped with Vermont cheddar cheese, and a fried egg, though came with nothing on the side. This is her standard, and she loves it.
Brooke had the chicken and waffles, which comes in sandwich form on buttermilk biscuits. It’s fried chicken breast and two fried eggs, and it’s very dry unless you smother it in the sausage sauce—of which they definitely don’t give you enough. The chicken tastes like regular cafeteria fried chicken, and it could have used a bit of a kick. Overall, the dish was fine. Mediocre.
Steph decided on the omelet as a safe bet. It’s made with Gruyere cheese, spinach, mushroom, and was rather plain a nice portion, well cooked, and tasty as expected. The dish came with a side of marble bread, as well, with jelly and butter. Like the chicken and waffles, the dish was fine, but nothing over the top or memorable.
I, of course, went for the Benny, called the Eggs Hamilton here. It was good—better than the average Benny, and I think it was the griddled beer bread that tipped it over the mark. The eggs were super runny, and almost not cooked enough, but that was OK with me. The glazed ham and the hollandaise sauce were great. The ham was tasty and pulled apart easily on my fork. It was also piled high, which I appreciated.
The Bitches say: B- Great for huge parties and a standard D.C. brunch, but the food and the service is nothing extraordinary.
600 14th St.