I am currently in the midst of that sometimes-blissful-yet-sometimes-terrifying phase of a relationship where, together, you absent-mindedly make plans for your families to visit a month or so from now. And then you stop, look at one another, and silently panic while realizing, oh shit, we absent-mindedly made plans for our families to visit a month or so from now. On the same weekend.
Some time after those silent moments of terror, small tinglings of regret, and then eventual peace with the situation, both of our mothers descended on the District for a weekend. And, as much as neither of us once-wildly-single, still-fiercely-independent 20-somethings would like to admit it, it was a step—I’d venture to say, perhaps even a rather big one—for both of us.
The Great Meeting of the Mothers, as I will call said weekend, actually turned out to be rather lovely. This is probably due to the fact that both of our mothers are ridiculously lovely themselves and so therefore got along very well. For brunch we took them to Vermilion in Old Town, because we figured the charm of King Street might make for a nice morning before we ventured to the city for an afternoon walk around the Cherry Blossoms. Plus, the name Vermilion makes me think of butterflies and French things, and so therefore brunch there has to be graceful and delicious enough for the most important women in the world, right?
The restaurant is also created by the same people who bring to D.C. some of our favorite brunches, such as Rustico, Birch & Barley, ChurchKey, and Tallula. Just like in those kitchens, Vermilion gets most of its produce and meats from local farms, and the chefs are known to be masters with those fresh goods. So, expectations were high.
The brunch menu is small but creative. We didn’t get any appetizers, though they were written to make your mouth water. The selections range from sheep’s milk yogurt to Atlantic scallops. There’s carrot and ginger soup made with baby carrot “carpaccio,” whipped mascarpone, and micro cilantro, which all sounds very dramatic for a soup. Or there’s the St. Mary’s asparagus, which comes with imported buratta, charred lemon, baby greens and toasted ciabatta. I repeat, charred lemon. Micro cilantro. Who writes this shit?
Yes, we skipped the flourishy apps and went straight for the main courses. And despite the wordiness, the entrees were quite plain. The winner of the Plain Award goes to the garganelli pasta, which was supposed to come with roasted mushrooms, mascarpone cream and garlic breadcrumbs, but instead was boring white pasta tossed with a bit of butter and flecked with a few herbs. “Pathetic,” said my mother, enviously eying the omelet at the table.
The three-egg omelet looked equally as plain from the outside, but it was filled with spinach and buratta cheese. With purple top asparagus and toast on the side, it made for a solid brunch dish. I had a tuna melt, which was covered with a nest of arugula and grape tomatoes. It also came with a huge lump of potato salad on the side, which was filling. The tuna itself was a bit fishy, but the greasy cheese on top did the trick.
Beau got the oyster Benedict. Yes, you read that right. The actual oyster was hard to find, but it was in there, somewhere, fried and salty. It was served on sourdough bread with a layer of ham and béarnaise. And, of course, a nest of arugula, which seems to be the requisite plate filler at Vermilion.
Two of our other Bitches at the table ordered some sort of pork loaf with eggs on top. It was a very pretty dish, with a purple flower made of peppers set atop it, and some slices of toast on the side. They both joined the Clean Plate Club. In fact, I didn’t even get a fork in there, it was gone so fast. So, I can’t tell you if it lived up to its menu description, but it must have been pretty decent to say the least.
Sadly, no one at the table ordered the Nutella pancakes chocolate chip, made with hazelnut and caramelized bananas, which just sounds heavenly. But it might be just the way it’s worded on the menu. For all I know, it would have showed up as a pancake with a bit of sauce.
The Bitches say: C+ Sometimes substantial but slightly deceiving brunch menu. Also, there are no drink specials. Lame.
1120 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22301