When Creme was on U Street it was a D.C. soul-food institution. The tiny restaurant constantly had a line out the door for brunch, and people jockeyed and bargained for one of the few tables.
It was those chicken and waffles, you see. Or maybe the grits. Or maybe the Southern-style service and cozy atmosphere. Whatever it was, Creme was a hit. For nearly a decade.
Then the 14th Street construction crept up the U corridor, and because its building was being renovated, Creme decided to relocate from its historical spot. Its new location is on the ground floor of one of the shiny new apartment buildings that line the steep hill heading up to Columbia Heights.
And as I climbed that hill, fighting against the frigid wind last weekend, I thought, this is really out of place. Creme belongs on U Street. It’s a part of its fabric.
The new space is larger, and more of a diner, and most certainly not as cozy or warm as its old location. There’s a small bar with a television for football fans, and plenty of tables to push together for big groups.
We sat at a table against the wall and ordered coffee and drinks. The brunch is still a bottomless deal—$15 for bottomless mimosas or Bloody marys—and the coffee is endless, as well. And the brunch menu offers all the old comfort classics.
Our bloody marys arrived and we were a bit disappointed by their tiny cups; they quickly got watered down. The mix wasn’t as thick or spicy as I would have liked, and the entire drink was just generally a disappointment. I ended up only having one.
We ordered a selection from the menu. Of course, I went for their most famous dish, the chicken and waffles. You have a choice of white meat or dark meat, and the chicken is served on the bone, fried to perfection, and on top of a huge Belgian waffle.
Cover that with the Maple syrup and creamy butter on the table, and this dish is brunch perfection. I just wish they would give bigger pieces of chicken.
We ordered the Louisiana benedict. On my last visit (to the old Creme), the hollandaise sauce blew my socks off—it was the best hollandaise I had tasted in the city. This benedict, however, let us down.
The poached egg was served over sautéed shrimp, Andouille sausage, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and Tabasco hollandaise. It sounds like it would be spicy and tasty, but it was a bit blah.
The buttermilk pancakes were served in a stack, and they were absolutely enormous. Thick and fluffy and covered with powdered sugar and whipped butter, they were an awesome carb-loading brunch dish. Plus, you can get them with blueberries or Banana Fosters for just a few more bucks.
The steak and eggs was a bit pathetic. The tiny steak was pan fried and served with two eggs in a dish on the side. Also on the side, a pathetic excuse for a salad—perhaps three leafs of lettuce. We ordered the famous grits on the side, and they were as promised; delicious and buttery.
Yes, the dishes were a bit hit or miss. And our server was super awkward—talking over us, delivering the plates at various times, sometimes attentive, sometimes completely missing. We were a bit annoyed.
The good news? That brunch receipt means you get 20% off your dinner in the week following.
The Bitches say: B-. The food was hit or miss, perhaps because Creme has lost its “soul” in this new spot.
2436 14th St. N.W.
Creme serves brunch on Sundays.