Typically I’m the one who organizes the weekend’s brunches for my group of friends. This is, of course, natural, as I have a never-ending list of places to try and, you know, a food website fueling it. My friends don’t care where we go as long as there is food on a table around which we can catch up. They’ve come to learn how to brunch with a Bitch—they understand the unspoken rules.
But lately I’ve been making a real effort not to plan every half hour of my life, including brunches. Why not let other people make the plans? Why do I always have to be the social ringleader? It’s been a fun experiment because I like to see which restaurants people gravitate towards. Plus, it’s relaxing just to tag along for a change.
Sometimes, though, this arrangement has posed a challenge. Like when my boyfriend planned brunch with a group of buddies and I tagged along. We met at Drafting Table on 14th Street—the restaurant I have been waiting with baited breath to try—and snagged one of the big high-tops for our group of six (the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, so we had to get there early for a big table).
Then, when I nonchalantly busted out my enormous SLR digital camera, eyes widened and jaws dropped.
“She has a brunch website,” my boyfriend patiently explained to the table. And with that I had to explain to the table the rules of brunching with moi …
Rule No. 1 for Brunching with a Bitch: Everyone has to order something different.
This rule does not apply to drinks, though I do appreciate it when there’s a Bloody Mary drinker at the table (I prefer the bubbly in the mornings).
When we get to the food, I will patiently wait until everyone else at the table has ordered their dish before I finally select from whatever is remaining on the menu. The purpose here is to try as much of the brunch menu as I can. And yes, I will snag a bite of your food.
The Drafting Table brunch menu isn’t very big—a small selection of breakfast dishes, a salad, and a burger. There are also four options for sides (hash browns, bacon, sausage, or eggs) and a couple of desserts. For drinks you get two options: the mimosa ($6) or the Table Bloody Mary ($5). Plus, of course, they have a full bar and beer on tap.
We ordered everything on the menu except for two things, the pear-and-prosciutto salad and the beer-braised brisket. I was pleased with how quickly this group was learning. But there was still a bit more instruction to go …
Rule No. 2 for Brunching with a Bitch: Don’t touch your food until I photograph it.
Occasionally, deep in a fog of hangover and eager to eat, a friend will forget this important rule, at which point the entire table will start lunging at him or her, hissing ‘DON’T TOUCH IT!’
Sometimes, people start touching their food to make it sit pretty for the photos. Trust me: You don’t need to style the food or move it in anyway. It’s important that we capture the dishes exactly how they are presented, because that is exactly how they will be presented to everyone else.
On this particular brunch, we ordered the falafel dish, because we were waiting on a few people and we were starving. Then, when it arrived, the entire table stared at the plate and then looked up and stared at me. Snap, snap, snap … OK, permission granted to dig in. The three small spicy falafel balls also came with some pita, lemon humus, and mixed vegetables. A great starter to share.
The rest of the party trickled in, and so did the rest of the food. A couple people ordered the all-day breakfast, which is much like an English brekkie with your choice of options: eggs sunny-side or flipped, sausage and bacon, baked beans (for real), grilled tomato, and sourdough toast. These people were happy, as their plates were full of carbs and meat.
The sexiest thing on the menu should have been the sexy egg sandwich (right?!). But it arrived as a rather boring sandwich, not really sexy at all in the end, with two sunny eggs, herb aioli, roasted red peppers, arugula, and prosciutto in between two slices of white bread. We were not turned on.
The brioche French toast arrived covered in powdered sugar with homemade apple compote on top. My boyfriend commented that he could make it just the same at home. Being a French toast connoisseur (we are now in a lovely routine where I always order the benedict and he always orders the French toast, and just like that our brunch love is complete), he turned his nose up.
My Benedict was not amazing. It had a sourdough toast base, which was a bit tough. On top, poached eggs covered in a Hollandaise that looked unique but in the end tasted rather bland. It had crispy bacon bits in the sauce. The side of potatoes were very greasy and super onion-y. Not the best.
We did order the Kaya toast to share, simply because we were intrigued as to what Kaya toast is. Truth be told, it was kind of gross. Cold coconut jam (which tastes like baby formula, let’s be real) in between two pieces of white-bread toast, with a side of fried eggs in a soy broth.
You’re supposed to dip the toast sticks into the egg-soy mixture, but honestly the whole thing was rather disgusting and I could not stomach more than a bite. I guess it’s an acquired taste, but the dish was mostly untouched by our table.
The winner at the table was the Draftsman burger, an enormous burger with beef, braised brisket, crispy blue cheese, apricot chutney, and bacon-onion jam. This was a beauty—and I will be back in the evening for this dish with a beer.
The folks at the table, now excited about their new roles as honorary Bitches, eagerly told me their opinions of what they were eating. The thoughts were flying around the table—this is too greasy, this tastes like heaven, this I can make at home—when the server arrived back to clear our dishes and take our dessert order.
And that’s when the unthinkable happened, which leads me to the third and final rule …
Rule No. 3 for Brunching with a Bitch: For Godssake don’t tell the server that you’re brunching with a Bitch.
I typically try to be super stealth-like with my photography, but occasionally a server will catch me and ask why I’m photographing all the food. When this happens, my usual response is, “photography class,” and everyone else at the table rolls their eyes.
The reason I keep it top secret is because I want a real experience. I want to be treated exactly how anyone else brunching there would be treated—with no extra attention just because I have a big honking camera at the ready and a website where I tell tens of thousands of Washingtonians where to brunch.
So the worst, the most treacherous thing you could do when brunching with a Bitch, is to tell the server that, “Oh she writes this blog called Bitches Who Brunch.” At which point I suck in my breath and use all my strength not to run out of the restaurant.
This happened during this brunch, but thankfully happened towards the tail end of it, and so we were only fawned upon once the dessert was placed on the table. At that point the waitress decided to regale us on all the ingredients of each dish, and why those ingredients were chosen, and why we would like it, and blah blah blah. You see why I don’t like being exposed when brunching?
We got both desserts on the menu, but I was mostly excited about the homemade Snickers pie. It sounds great: chocolate cookie crust, peanut butter mousse, Snickers pieces. In reality, it was a very dry piece of pie. We only had a few bites.
The chocolate puddin’ was better: a small cup of pudding (old fashioned, they say) with two snickerdoodle biscotti pieces poking out. I would have been fine with just this and a mimosa for my entire brunch.
The Bitches say: B- Everything was just sort of meh. But the place is a great neighborhood pub, just perhaps not for brunch.
1529 14th Street N.W.
The Drafting Table serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.