Remember when I huffed and puffed my way through a sorry 5k last month? Well, I’m back. Officially. After a month of training, two weeks ago I blew through the Marine Corps 10k and could have kept running, save for my hunger. The finish line was in Rosslyn, and we were looking for some post-race fuel, so we went up the street to Whitlow’s for their Sunday brunch buffet.
I had been to Whitlow’s once before, at the tail end of an epic bike ride, but had just stopped at the bar for a quick bite before I pedaled on. This time, I was ready to gorge myself. But, if you’re not that ravenous, you have the option: the $18 buffet or brunch a la carte, of which the menu is pretty extensive.
Whitlow’s is like one massive diner. It has rooms that latch onto rooms that latch onto rooms. This labyrinth of a restaurant gives each room a different name and adorns the walls with enough kitsch to make it feel like a neighborhood joint.
The draw here for brunch is not just the buffet, but also the bloody Mary bar. However, we were a bit disappointed by both. We ordered the requisite bloody Mary (to be made at their bar), and was presented with a massive glass of well vodka. Ouch. The bloody Mary bar itself has all sorts of spicy sauces and accoutrements to gussy up your drink, but it was all a bit old and sketchy looking.
Our mimosas were just as sad. I ordered a pitcher (for myself; don’t judge; I’m allowed when I just ran six miles) but instead I was presented with a pathetic carafe. Another Bitch ordered a mimosa by the glass, and I swear that $6 glass had more mimosa than my $14 pitcher – and neither had much champagne. Slightly absurd and overpriced.
The buffet itself is frightening. It’s in a long room made for pool tables, and those billiard lights instead become the food’s heat lamps. Not sure if this is intentional or if that’s just how it worked out for the owners. All the food is in metal trays, side by side, stewing there for hours.
Before 11 a.m. there’s a selection of breakfast dishes available. Sliced fruit, bagels, cereal, and more. The hot breakfast includes biscuits and gravy, sausages, bacon, eggs, breakfast potatoes, and a made-to-order omelet bar. We should have gotten a really good omelet cooked right with cheese and onions and mushrooms and bacon from that bar, but our omelet wasn’t cooked all the way through, and the ingredients weren’t good options, and it just tasted straight up bad.
The bacon was the only decent option of the breakfast dishes, and even that wasn’t that great. Also, the lox are at the opposite end of the room from the bagels, which is perplexing.
After 11 a.m., they pull out the big guns: crab legs, smoked salmon, fried chicken, pastas, and pasta salads of all different varieties (what do you want with your mayonnaise?). There’s macaroni and cheese, lasagna, and a number of other heavy dinner-type pasta dishes. I should have gone here the night before the race.
The desserts made me sort of sad. There were a few cakes, all of which tasted like they were straight out of the CostCo freezer. In fact, everything in the buffet tasted like it came out of a CostCo freezer. We poked at the purple cheesecake and didn’t get past a few bites.
Our big group was seated in the very back room, which is obviously the patio in warmer weather. They’ve covered it and brought in some heaters, and so it was quite comfortable and open enough for us to gather a large, rowdy group that wanted to take pictures with race medals.
Sadly, the quality of the food and the drinks just weren’t up to par. This Sunday I’m running in the Veterans’ Day 10k in West Potomac Park, so come cheer me on – and give me a better post-race brunch suggestion.
The Bitches say: C-. As buffets usually suck, this one is pretty standard suckage. Also, the drinks are overpriced. But, this place is good for massive, hungry parties roll out of their Clarendon apartments and don’t care about the quality of food or drinks. But definitely don’t go out of your way.
Whitlow’s on Wilson
2854 Wilson Blvd.
Clarendon, VA 22201