A note from the Bitches: this restaurant is now closed.
I love art. And I’m not just saying that like I’m interviewing for a job or writing an online dating profile. I truly do have a passion for it.
Most especially contemporary art. You know … the weird, ridiculous shit that when normal people see it they think, “Wait. What? This is art?” Yes, that. That is exactly the stuff I love.
I travel to Art Basel Miami every year to get my fill of the crazy new stuff on the market. And when fabulous exhibits come to Washington’s museums, I am the first in line.
So when you put my other love—brunch—in the middle of a stunning art museum that is currently showing one of the most interesting local art exhibits to hit Washington in awhile, I’m just in heaven.
That’s what happened when Cori Sue and I brunched at the Muse at the Corcoran recently. The brunch was set up in the middle of the museum’s gorgeous, columned atrium. On the perimeter walls, DC’s Pump Me Up exhibit. Inside, the permanent collection.
Cori Sue snagged a table and started chatting with Ellen Gray, Chef Todd’s lovely wife. I wandered around, totally enraptured by the stories of my beloved city and its music and street art. Two days prior, CS was at the opening party for Pump Me Up, and I had nearly died with jealousy, stuck on a flight back from a work trip. Now was my time to catch up on the crazy D.C. art I had missed.
Eventually, finally hungry, I waddled back to the table. The brunch is buffet-style, with tables surrounding a center buffet. Servers bring you cocktails, if you’d like them, but water and coffee are self-service. It’s not a bad deal: adults are $25, children 12 and under are $12. Cocktails are $10.
If you go on the fourth Sunday of the month, the entire brunch is vegan—a rare treat in Washington. I’m typically not a fan of vegan food (what’s the point?), but we did end up visiting on the vegan Sunday, and I must say, this brunch was truly fabulous.
I enjoyed everything, from the vegetarian lasagna to the mini black bean veggie burger bites on toasted bread that Chef Todd Gray was doling out, fresh from his tray. There was vegan Waldorf salad, with frisee, grapes, pink grapefruit, and spiced walnuts. There was a wild rice salad and another Israeli cous cous salad. The macaroni salad, with kale, pine nuts, and carrots, was absolutely delicious, and super satisfying.
But getting away from the salad and rice, there was French Toast with a pineapple compote and maple syrup; a three onion and potato farm casserole, and panko-crusted potato and vegan cheddar croquettes, a dish that was popular with the masses. Who doesn’t love potato croquettes?
The dishes were in heating tray, no doubt, but it was clear that these were handcrafted dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Nothing looked like it had been sitting out for very long, and Chef Gray was constantly attending to the buffet himself.
There were fruit cups with fresh mango, pineapple, and pomegranate seeds—unique selections that differ from the typical bananas, blueberries and strawberries you’d typically get. And, thankfully, no honeydew, or Cori Sue might have lost it.
The desserts were provided by Sticky Fingers bakery, two time winners of Cupcake Wars, which pits all bakeries against one another, not specifically vegan ones. While there were no cupcakes from Sticky Fingers, there were heavenly, dense, double-chocolate brownies that were unbelievable.
Big families and groups were gathering in the museum. It occurred to me that this would make a lovely family outing in Washington: brunch at a museum, a stroll through said museum, a meander along the National Mall to the monuments. These people were doing it right.
Plus, if you brunch at Muse you get $5 off your museum admission. Score.
Underneath the column was a couple (or perhaps a brother and sister duo) who were playing guitar and singing quietly. They added a lovely, melodic tune to the atmosphere. It was like we were sitting in an Of Monsters and Men video. I loved it.
I could have stayed there forever (there was free WiFi!), eating and enjoying the music, working and soaking up the atmosphere. But the tables were all full, and I knew that Todd and Ellen were eager to seat more families. So off we went.
The Bitches say: A. A solid brunch (plus, it’s one of the rare upscale vegan brunches in Washington) in an unusual but fabulous Washington locale.
Muse at the Corcoran Gallery of Art
500 Seventeenth Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
Brunch is served every Sunday. Vegan brunches are the fourth Sunday of the month.