Although our travel to D.C. was instigated by business, my husband and I knew that it had to end with reuniting with old friends—and brunch.
My husband has known Becca long before she was Bitching and brunching, as they were friends when she was growing up in Florida. So we eagerly anticipated reuniting with her and some other D.C. friends and gabbing about life (and, most importantly, the food scene) on their turf.
We happily agreed to join our intrepid leader-in-brunch, Becca, at Tico, a relatively new addition to the flourishing 14th Street scene. We ducked out of the dreary weather and into Tico’s laidback, cozy atmosphere. When we arrived, there was plenty of seating still available.
The manufactured authenticity of the interior seems to be par for the course, as this area is revitalized. Though, the restaurant’s street-art inspired details and exposed brick walls seemed out of place with the more traditional look of the bar area. The center of the restaurant, for example, features two distressed concrete columns and graffiti art. It didn’t really fit with the Latin-inspired menu.
Shortly after putting in our drink order, there was a legit medical emergency at a nearby table. We watched in horror as a brunch-goer has a massive seizure and dropped to the floor, his tablemates rushing to his side and calling 911.
As our jaws hit the table, the staff jumped immediately into action. Busboys and cooks ran out of the kitchen to come to the poor guy’s aid. And the manager and team remained absolutely calm and collected while leaping into action to assure that the customer received prompt medical care.
After paramedics had arrived, and the emergency abated, the staff was quick to reassemble the tables and reassure the customers. Everyone, I think, was a little in shock. We were incredibly impressed with the performance of the staff, and found that they were just as attentive throughout the meal.
Crisis averted, we settled in for brunch. The menu offers a selection of traditional staples, many with a Latin twist. Our eyes widened when the beautifully plated dishes where delivered to our table, though the general consensus seemed to be that minor tweaks would have elevated the food to another level.
The mac n’ cheese was tasty: cooked al dente and topped with toasted bread crumbs juxtaposed against the creaminess of the cheese sauce. But we struggled to find the Serrano ham in the dish and this was certainly a “small plate” for the $10 price tag.
Thickly-sliced cinnamon raisin “stuffed” French toast arrived at the table, the plate dotted with lovely plump blackberries. But the flavors were nothing out of the ordinary. Similarly, the caramelized banana pancakes with crunchy hazelnuts were less “caramelized” than they were “caramel-topped” and didn’t offer any new twist on the dish.
The basic breakfast plate’s soft scrambled eggs were bland against the wonderfully crispy breakfast potatoes. The accompanying homemade sausage seemed undercooked and lacked the spicy kick that was expected, considering the other Latin-inspired flavors.
The delicious duck confit served over green chile hash came with lovely poached eggs, topped with chipotle hollandaise. The only downside was that the plate was lacking texture and would have benefitted from a side of the breakfast potatoes (which were happily stolen from the other plates).
The “open faced omelet” with asparagus, avocado, piquillo peppers, manchego, and Serrano ham was well-cooked and the flavors fresh. The Serrano topping, though pretty, failed to blend with the other flavors baked into the dish. The manchego was sadly undetectable.
The breakfast cocktails pleased our group. The Bloody Chancho was declared a success with its bacon-infused tequila that helped memories of previous failed bacon-flavored boozes fade away. Tico’s homemade Bloody Mary mix and salty/spicy “tico” rashi rim made for a unique twist.
Likewise, the coffee-based “Mommy’s Happy” cocktail, featuring coffee liquor, Frangelico, Nescafé, iced coffee, and milk, was well-composed and refreshing.
The Bitches say: B-. Tico offers a solid brunch menu and friendly, attentive service. In spite of the beautifully presented plates, the dishes failed to leave an impression on our group.
1926 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
Tico serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.