I have a family of sorts in Washington. It’s a bit complicated, so bear with me.
My Godmother, who lives in Florida, had two daughters. I grew up with the youngest; we went straight through grade school together. When I moved to Washington, I realized that the eldest daughter lived just off U Street. The advantageous location made us fast friends—she become my de facto big sister in Washington, as we ran amok to 9:30 Club concerts and Vinoteca wine tastings.
Since that epic bonding, nearly six years ago now, she has since married and given birth to a beautiful daughter (and has another little one on the way). And her daughter is now my Goddaughter. Or I’m her Godmother. Her mom’s mom is my Godmother.
So that makes my friend my Godsister, right?
Confusing, I know. When I tell people that Stephanie is my Godsister, they look at me curiously, so I take a few minutes to explain.
I’m happy to do so, though, because Miss Mina, my Goddaughter, is perhaps the most adorable Bitch Who Brunches in training. And I am the luckiest Godmother ever.
It was Stephanie’s birthday on Saturday, and so her lovely husband planned a perfect brunch, of course. And since these pregnant-and-parenting folk live in Virginia suburbs these days, I journeyed to Old Town to meet up with the fam.
I was, oh, just slightly banged up, having danced the night away prior at the No Kings Collective Fifth Anniversary Party at the Wonder Bread Factory. And when I arrived, in sunglasses and shorts no less, I braced myself for an afternoon of babies. Hubby had arranged for a prix fixe birthday brunch table-for-twelve upstairs, which is actually the perfect event space. And the table was quickly filled by pregnant ladies, strollers with babies, high chairs with toddlers, and, well, hungover me.
The menu was personalized for “Steph’s Birthday!” (how cute), which was a nice touch. Guests got a great selection of dishes in three courses. I ordered coffee, water, orange juice, and a virgin bloody mary (more liquid, please!) to start. The other ladies ordered virgin marys, as well.
My appetizer, the cornmeal hushpuppies, was surprisingly large. Six piping hot puppies arrived with bread and butter pickles on the side. The dipping sauces were the best, one a bit mustardy, one a la ranch, and one a take on ketchup. It was exactly the amount of carbs I needed, and I was happy that this wasn’t a paltry appetizer at all.
The salad option was called “Sweet Gems” with a bed of green, whipped goat cheese, pine nuts, and plenty and plenty of avocado. It was topped with the most gorgeous sherry vinaigrette. That dressing was perfection.
The final appetizer option was a housemade yogurt, which was a very pretty dish, covered with seasonal and dried fruits, granola, and drizzled with local honey. I didn’t get to try it, as the solo order was yonder on the other end of the enormous table, but it looked lovely and refreshing.
By the time the appetizers were cleared, it was already more than an hour into the brunch. And while, yes, this is a rather large party, we were all a bit stunned at the slow pace of the meal and service. Our server was very kind to the kiddos, bringing out the lil’ dishes early and making sure the proper utensils and cups were provided. But he was epically—epically—slow with us adults.
When our entrees arrived, we weren’t really that hungry anymore, having sucked down multiple virgin marys and, oh, those hushpuppies. In need of eggs, I ordered the three-egg omelette, which was filled with sauteed spinach, feta cheese and red pepper.
I ended up taking most of the dish home, but I tell you it was just as good reheated in the microwave later that afternoon. On the side, a huge portion of homefries, slices of toast, and my choice of pork sausage or bacon. I went for the sausage.
The baked eggs would have been my second choice, and I’m glad I didn’t order them in the end. Though there were no complaints from the table, the dish looked a tad suspect, with two huge eggs just plopped in a dish. Underneath was cheddar grits, roasted mushroom, chorizo, and fresno pepper.
The hanger steak was by far the most glorious of the brunch entrees, a massive dish with sliced steak covered in housemade steak sauce. On the side, thin herb fries and baby greens. A real dude dish. For, you know, the ladies who brunch.
When the entrees were cleared away, we all looked at our watches: We had been at brunch for over two hours. While we love Stephanie dearly, some of us had places to be (like a nap). I asked for my dessert to be boxed up, and the check to be delivered, and I braced myself for another 30 minutes of waiting.
I got my dessert in a box, the poppyseed ricotta fritters, with key lime curd and poached peaches on the side. I popped it into the oven later that afternoon, and it was the perfect mid-day snack. When it’s served in the restaurant it also comes with cheesecake ice cream.
The other option, the PB&J terrine, was a very pretty dish, with chocolate cremeux, peanut butter mousse, and mixed berry sorbet. I didn’t get a bite, as I had to nip out the door to catch my fleeing Old Town Uber, but it looked very decadent and rich.
Alas, my epic trip south to Old Town was a grand birthday brunch for a very lovely Godsister.
The Bitches say: B-. The food is delicious, and the space is great for groups, but the service is so painfully slow.
1120 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Vermilion serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.