Now that Bitches Who Brunch is in two—nearly three—major U.S. cities, it’s a treat when one or two of the Bitches ventures to visit another hub. When it happens, a boozy bonding brunch is in order so we can catch up and share secrets.
This was the case last weekend, when New York Bitch Ally was in D.C. for Miss Adams Morgan (where she dressed up as an epic David Bowie for the pageant, no less). After an evening dancing with the ’70s drag divas, she met the D.C. Bitches—Amanda, Cori Sue and yours truly—at Del Campo.
The stylish South American restaurant is tucked away just north of Chinatown. Inside, it’s all glass chandeliers, heavy oak, and white tablecloths. The perfect place for a fancy third date over pisco sours, we think.
For brunch, sun was streaming into the huge windows, and the setting was quite lovely. We were seated at a square table for four, and a number of bumbling servers immediately came to the table to take our drink orders, over and over, various times.
The drinks took ages to arrive, and by the time we got them we were confused as to which restaurant worker was actually our server. They were overly polite, but utterly ineffective: interrupting our meals to update us on who was who—empty-handed, without food or beverages. Highly annoying.
I ordered the first of two Bloody Marys, the Del Campo, which was a feisty pisco Mary with plenty of pepper. Made with Sol de Ica Acholado Pisco, fresh lemon, applewood smoked tomato juice, horseradish, worcestershire sauce, fresh pepper, moldova salt, and grilled rocoto. It was fabulous.
My second Mary I was certainly not a fan of. The Pantera—I should have known—was made with fish stock and squid ink, and showed up looked and smelling like the bottom of the sea. Maybe it’s an acquired taste, that mix of Sol de Ica Acholado pisco, fresh lemon, fish stock, red onions, celery, squid ink, applewood smoked tomato juice, horseradish, worcestershire sauce, fresh pepper, moldova salt, and grilled rocoto.
The rest of the girls had mimosas. They come in three options: classic orange, grilled grapefruit, or smoked pineapple. The prosecco and juices are poured straight at the table, and the juices were super fresh and pulpy.
The menu also had a lovely selection of coffee from Guatemala and Haiti, as well as espressos and cafes de la casa. We stuck to the booze, except for CS who had coffee.
The deal is a great one at Del Campo: bottomless food and drink (pending everyone at the table takes part) for $45. The food arrives on lovely, white china with white detailing along the trim. The entire setting is very pretty.
After the drinks arrived, a narrow cast-iron dish of piping hot square rolls of dough were placed on the table, along with olive oil and crushed sea salt. The combination was delicious, and the carbs were exactly what David Bowie needed. This was one of the highlights of the meal.
The restaurant also delivered a hot plate of four canela buns, which looked better than they tasted. The cinnamon buns were drizzled with dulce de leche and caramelized sugar sprinkles, but they were hard and insufficiently sweet. We like our ‘buns ooey gooey, warm, rich and delicious.
After a couple rounds of drinks and nibbling on the appetizers, we settled in for our entrees. They are smaller dishes, as it’s meant to be a sharable endless brunch menu, so each of us ordered one or two dishes and shared.
The bacon, egg, and cheese empanadas were small and served with a side of smoked hollandaise. There was certainly not enough sauce, and the empanadas themselves were only lightly filled with the goods. A bit sad. The jumbo prawn cocktail dish, with those little buggers served with their eyes still on (shudder) was nicely presented with salsa golf and heart of palm.
Due to her undying love for anything with manchego cheese, Amanda selected the poached eggs with polenta, morcilla, manchego, and salsa verde. This dish is not for the faint of heart as morcilla is, in fact, blood sausage, but she was feeling adventurous. The polenta was delightfully creamy and had the perfect hint of heat thanks to the salsa verde.
Pinky out, I ordered the cast iron local eggs, which was by far the prettiest dish at the table. It was arranged nicely in a cast iron dish, with three enormous eggs topped with asparagus and caviar. Amazing. On the side, crab toast with a nice avocado touch. But overall the dish was a bit too runny, gooey and fish-eggy for my brunch taste.
The chorizo and egg hash was a generous portion of spicy sausage and scrambled eggs served with potatoes, burnt onions, and Parmesan. It was a satisfying dish but certainly the least inventive of everything we tried. It would have benefited from a sauce (maybe more of that delicious salsa verde) as it was a bit dry.
Cori Sue ordered the steak and eggs Benedict, made with Wagyu skirt steak perched on those doughy squares we had as an appetizer. They were small Benedicts, and the eggs were extremely runny. The steak was a bit stringy and fatty, making the overall dish a bit tricky to eat. The malbec hollandaise was tasty, though.
The grilled and smoked swordfish was an odd brunch dish, but I ordered it nonetheless, thinking it might be a healthy option. The tiny fish filet was served with a fried egg. It was extremely tasty, and fell apart on my fork just as it should. I would order this for dinner, though.
The cast iron pancakes with maple and butter ice cream were a real hit. Served in an enormous skillet, the three pancakes, layered atop one another, were more like a pancake souffle than actual pancakes. They were moist, flavorful, and awesome—a memorable rendition on pancakes.
The Bitches say: C+. The food at Del Campo is hit or miss, with some dishes are delicious and others that are confusing and sad. While the ambiance is upscale and the presentation lovely, the service is terrible. At the end of it all, you’re presented with a steep bill—we’d expect more.
777 I St. N.W.
Del Campo serves its bottomless and endless mimosa brunch for $45 on Sundays.