Bitch Note: Lovely Emily is giving it a go as a Guest Bitch today. We hope you like her review of Woodward Table’s brunch as much as we did.
You can determine a lot about a brunch based on the initial reactions of your tablemates. Case in point, at Woodward Table on a recent Sunday afternoon:
My mother: “This place is just adorable! I can picture Don Draper slouched in that booth over there.”
My twenty-something brother: “I feel like I should be meeting with a loan officer. What’s with all the brown?”
Fear not, readers, and please read on. What Woodward Table lacks in hipness and, well, a color palette, it makes up for in spades elsewhere.
It was a family affair on this particular Sunday, as the baby brother was moving from one luxurious bachelor pad to another (I play the bitter oldest-child card with no shame), and the husband and I were recruited to assist in the heavy lifting. Although my lifting consisted of carting bags from room to room, I was famished by the time we arrived at WT.
The restaurant is located in that random-yet-central part of D.C. that can only be described as ‘downtown.’ A block from the White House, it is an area that seems to lack a whole lot of personality, but is chock-full of power-lunch establishments a la Old Ebbitt Grill. I suppose the area’s personality is made up of the bevy of politicos that walk very quickly and importantly down the surrounding streets on week days. On weekends, it’s rather deserted.
WT’s sizable patio provides a pretty spot for people-watching (if you do spot anyone) sans excess noise from traffic or crazies. On this particular day the men folk begged for a reprieve from the heat so we opted for a large booth inside.
We were immediately visited by our lovely waiter and each ordered coffee that arrived via unnecessary personal French press vessels. No matter—the roast was delicious and rich. The restaurant offers a $15 bottomless bloody and mimosa deal, but I never go whole-hog without sampling the goods first.
This snobby bloody mary connoisseur, along with my similarly discerning father, was not impressed. Although the pour was generous, the flavor was non-existent due to what I suspect was tomato juice mixed with Tabasco. No me gusta.
On to happier findings. We started our meal with a pastry basket still warm from the oven. The contents? Chocolate chip banana bread just gooey enough to melt in your mouth, lemony fresh muffins and—hidden at the bottom of this carb gold mine—a salty and crumbly buttermilk biscuit.
The basket came with a pat of butter that proved too small, and strawberry jam that seemed out of place and unnecessary with its bready counterparts. What’s a girl gotta do to get some apple butter?
After the basket had been scoured for crumbs, we ordered our entrees. Our patriarch went for the Kentucky Hot Brown. This sammie knocked my socks off and reminded me of Day-After-Thanksgiving lunches. Carved turkey breast, fresh tomato, and chewy brioche covered in a mornay sauce worked so well together in each comforting bite.
My better half went slightly more traditional with a Croque Madam. While it is very hard to mess up a fried egg, thick bread, ham and cheese, the quality of ingredients and the addition of the tangy mornay really took this one to a new level of indulgence. Well played, WT, but how will you fare with more complicated fare? (Shameless pun, guilty as charged.)
The steak and eggs was very run of the mill, but in WT’s defense it had a lot to live up to. That, and the fact that the bro was dismayed to discover that the scallops he thought he read in the description were actually scallions. Seems someone needs a new lens prescription! Heartbreaking ordering mistake to say the least.
Mom went for an entrée portion of the shrimp and grits. The woman has never met a grit she didn’t like, but on this occasion her issue was with quantity. Dainty as she may be, there were just not enough for her liking. I can’t blame her.
The grits were cooked in a zesty butter sauce and topped with cheese, diced ham, and a generous portion of shrimp. The resulting dish tasted like buffalo shrimp dip, which I say with the utmost respect. Just be sure to order the larger size if you intend to make it a meal or if you have an affinity for grits like my darling mother.
Last but certainly not least, I went with the Hangtown Fry and immediately won the accolade of Best Selection. Delivered in a mini skillet and towering six inches high, the Fry starts with a base of fluffy frittata, is topped with a sprinkling of bacon (bacon sprinkles: genius), and finished with a heaping pile of oysters fried in crunchy, peppery breading.
Picture of health this is not, folks. The breading-to-oyster proportion was a bit skewed to the starch, but otherwise no complaints here.
Entrees at WT come sans sides, which caused a lot of genuine concern from the males. Clearly, we hadn’t been privy to the portion sizes at this point. We shared two varieties of breakfast potatoes and a veggie as a last minute try for nutrition. The Woodward Fries have all of the qualities of a light and crisp McDonald’s french fry without being, well, from McDonald’s.
The remoulade dipping sauce was an unreal addition. The fingering homefries came in the form of large potato wedges dipped in duck fat. No further explanation needed. To counteract this tot overload we finished with a bowl of the lemon asparagus.
To satisfy our sweet teeth, we split the Summer Peach Cobbler and the Black Raspberry Pie. You can’t go wrong with stone fruit baked goods in the summer, right? The jury is still out on this one. While the presentation was adorable, the raspberry was a bit too tart, and the topping on the cobbler was so soggy it almost gave me a case of the sads.
Taking a page from the ever-eloquent Stefani Germanotta, WT is on the edge of glory. Everything was good, and almost great. Service was attentive, yet we waited for ages between courses. The more innovative dishes provided unique flavor combinations and unexpected details, but classics like shrimp and grits and steak and eggs fell slightly short.
The Bitches say B+. I suppose we’ll simply have to return to WT to sample the rest of the menu on another occasion. I’m confident they will find a way to redeem their shortcomings, which were few and far between.
1426 H St NW
Washington, DC 20005
Woodward Table serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.