– I CAN’T HEAR YOU. IT’S TOO EFFING LOUD.
Oh my God. The thing I remember most about brunch at Vinoteca was the decibel level. Not the place for Sunday morning recovery, people.
Yes, it was loud. Really loud. But that sort of liveliness isn’t all bad if you happen to brunch with extremely large, rowdy groups.
My rowdy group of Bitches was seated at the big round in the middle of the small dining room. For the noise level, the place wasn’t ridiculously overcrowded. A couple could easily nip in and snag a table without rezzies. Or you could eat at the bar, which had lovely big vases of sunflowers on it.
Part wine bar, part diner, tiny little Vinoteca made its name in my book with its amazing happy hours ($5 everything, including their fab wine list) and their adorable back patio—bocce ball court included—right off U Street. “Time is an illusion. Brunch time doubly so …” it states at the top of the menu. I like this place already, I thought, pounding headache or not. I mean, you can get fabulous cheese and charcuterie. At brunch!
Another unexpected surprise: bottomless mimosas (but not bloody Marys). Also, they skip the flutes and serve them in wine glasses. The pours are big, but it’s mostly orange juice (and do not order the kir royale. Tres bad). Ah well, bottomless is bottomless. Besides that, the service was deceptively good. But this might have been because of our strategic location. We simply had to stretch an arm out to catch a server.
Onto the food. I had the eggs Benny (per usual), which was served on warm, gooey gruyere toast. The best part of the dish was the frisee salad on the side. It had warm pulled pork in it, which was, quite simply, awesome. Also, topped with a lovely roasted garlic vinaigrette—a perfect departure from home fries or other greasy brunch sides. I would go back simply to eat just a huge dish of that salad.
The pancakes were lighter than expected. “It’s not just dough in your belly,” one of my Bitches announced. You could get your ‘cakes with ginger butter or berries, and we tried both. But, he had to order a second round of berry compote. Why so stingy with the berries?
The eggs and omelets were perfectly cooked on everyone’s plate. The mushroom omelet was the most creative dish. Served with big, thick mushrooms, homemade ricotta and truffle butter. Too often, eggs are overcooked—rubbery and dry. These were perfect.
Not on the menu? A fab little breakfast sandwich made with ham, bacon and eggs on a toasted plain bagel. How gourmet can you get with a breakfast sandwich? Pretty gourmet, apparently. I seriously think this would be my go-to brunch spot if I lived on U Street.
The bill was going to be so low (seriously, this place is inexpensive for the great quality food and bottomless drinks—my bill was hardly more than $20), we decided to go for dessert! Four tiny chocolate truffles were expertly balanced on a plate, covered with shaved almonds and mint candy, and drizzled with bailey’s sauce. Bite-sized, rich, and the perfect happy ending.
The Bitches say: A- Unexpectedly great food at a great price. Just loud (or lively—your pick).
1940 11th St. NW
Washington, DC 20001