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Bitch at Us: Chef Brian Robinson of DGS

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DGS has been the answer to the prayers of D.C. residents who bemoan the lack of authentic Jewish deli fare in the area.

The upscale restaurant, located on Connecticut Ave. in Dupont Circle, serves up all your traditional favorites like its delicious Reuben and chicken schnitzel along with some twists (hello, pastrami lo-mein!). With cold weather now upon us, we recommend pulling up a seat at their fabulous happy hour and sticking around for a dinner of a piping hot bowl of matzo ball soup and any of their sandwiches with meat made in-house.

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Oh, and we’d be remiss not to mention their $27 bottomless brunch. At brunch, the bagels and lox can’t be beat and the French toast will rock your world. Read our review, here.

I chatted with Chef Brian Robinson about his culinary inspiration, brunch, and his ultimate deli sandwich with four different kind of meats (yes, you read that right).

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We caught up with Chef Brian to ask him some of the most important questions. Check out what he had to say:

Where is your favorite place to brunch in DC?

Well, I live in Arlington so if I’m randomly off on a Sunday I like the divey places instead of high end brunch. I like Bentleys that’s like an old school diner and the cook is 100 years old or Whitlows because it’s consistent and they have a great beer selection.

Brian Robinson

What is your favorite thing to cook for brunch?

The pastrami hash from the DGS menu. I like the fact that we’re using all of our own ingredients: meat-smoked in house, peppers, and onions, so it’s not just a thrown together thing.

Do you prefer to go out for brunch or eat in?

If I’m off then Sunday is a football day so I make myself eggs and bacon and hang out on the couch.

Mimosas or Bloody Marys?

Bloody Marys. I like mine with horseradish and Kalamata juice—just like how my grandfather used to make them.

What is one thing you have to order if it is on the menu?

I order corned beef hash no matter what menu it is.

If you had to invite five local celebrities to brunch who would they be?

Tony Kornheiser, Michael Willbon, and Troy Brouwer from the Caps. Throw in Bryce Harper and John Wall too.

D.C. has been lacking an authentic deli for a long time. Why do you think that is? Why do you think DGS has been so successful?

I think it’s been lacking because it’s not easy thing to do consistently. People tend to remember the old school delis and it’s all about nostalgia so you have to find a way to straddle the line between recreating the nostalgia and keeping it current. If you recreated nostalgia you would just be an old school diner. We stay current but stay true to the craft and it shows through the food.

DGS is known for making all its meats in-house. Can you tell me about that process?

The pastrami is brined for a minimum of seven days—sometimes longer- and then it’s rubbed with spices and black pepper and smoked for six hours. After the smoke, the pastrami goes in the steam bath for 3-4 hours. For the fish, we cure the salmon for 24 hours with salt and sugar and cold smoke it for 2 hours. The whitefish goes two days in the brine and a three-hour smoke. We smoke turkey too but that’s not really a brunch item.

What is your idea of the ultimate deli sandwich?
I have an idea and it’s a matter of whether it passes the test but corned beef, pastrami, roast beef tongue, chopped liver, and a little bit of red onion. If I get my way it will be on the menu soon.

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