Inauguration weekend was a spectacular time in Washington. The energy, the pride, the hope … the parties.
A few weeks prior to the Inauguration, I realized I had absolutely no plans for the big weekend and was feeling a bit glum about it. I’m typically the friend planning the social calendar and inviting my pals along to fun events the Bitches get tickets to.
But, Inauguration weekend, I had nothing.
Then, the week prior, I was lucky to be gifted a slew of tickets and invites—attending a concert at Howard Theatre, the Washingtonian Starry Night Gala at the Air & Space Museum, the official Inaugural Ball (swoon), and a (complimentary) special Inauguration themed brunch at Todd Gray’s Equinox restaurant, located a stone’s throw from the White House.
It’s always nice when friends share and share alike—and when what goes around comes around actually implies something good. (Thanks for the tickets, guys and gals!)
For starters, going to an inaugural brunch steps away from the White House on Inauguration Day Eve was awesome.
Celebrating the fifty-seventh presidential inauguration and honoring Martin Luther King, Chef Todd Gray created a special brunch menu filled with beloved dishes of Martin Luther King and President Barack Obama. The restaurant was done up with American banners, and we were seated in bright, sunlit corner.
I was joined by my dear friend Lauren, a Southern belle from North Carolina who was thrilled by the Southern-themed menu. We began with salads, which were absolutely beautiful when they arrived.
Lauren had the mixed blue ridge field greens. She said that the duck ham was delicious and well-prepared. It mixed well with the vinaigrette and cornbread croutons, which thrilled her.
My salad was my favorite part of the meal. I love a good salad, but hate making them myself. This salad was arugula and frisee, with wild mushroom crespelle (essentially Italian crepes filled with creamy cheese and mushrooms), a hazelnut crumble and a white balsamic dressing.
No wonder I was satisfied. You add wild mushrooms and gourmet cheese to anything and I am in foodie heaven.
Next up was the maple-red wine pork sausage, served with cheddar grits. The house-made pork sausage looked delicious, and Lauren really enjoyed it, saying it was sweet and paired well with the grits. Meanwhile, I picked around the pork and enjoyed the very cheesy, very rich grits. My god, Southern food is good for the soul.
For her entree, Lauren had MLK’s Fried Chicken Paillard, with salt cured pickles, new potatoes and slow cooked greens. “I only really like chicken when it’s fried,” She said over brunch. “But this has the perfect fried exterior and the chicken is seasoned well. I love it—me, the girl who doesn’t really order chicken. I’d call that a win!”
For my entree, I selected the crispy skin salmon, served with lentils, heirloom carrots and a blue crab tarragon butter. Crispy skin salmon, when done correctly, is always an excellent, satisfying and healthy choice. The crab tarragon butter turned the dish from good to decadent and delicious. However, there was so much food I simply couldn’t finish it all.
For dessert, I ordered Georgian Pecan Pie, knowing damn well pecan pie is the most calorie-laden dessert in existence, and I would be in a form-fitting ball gown that evening. Oh well, c’est la vie. (And my life is so tough, gowns, galas, and brunch at that.) Well, not only was it delicious, but I’m fairly sure they don’t present pecan pie like that down in Georgia. The dessert was absolutely stunning. I didn’t know you could make dessert into a work of art.
Lauren had the peanut butter chocolate bar—salted shortbread with peanut butter and chocolate. It was served with pomegranate sorbet, a unique twist. She said, “This is why dessert is my favorite part of every meal. It was decadent and perfect for us to share. The pomegranate sorbet was a nice, light fruity change from the richness of the peanut butter and chocolate.”
Truth be told, I liked the peanut butter chocolate bar better than the pecan pie. Thankfully, good friends always share.
This brunch was clean and oh so Southern. Fried chicken, cheddar grits and toasted cornbread croutons? Everything was plated perfectly, and the food was rich and filling. The service was prompt and attentive, and I enjoyed our little sunlit nook in the corner.
The Bitches say: A. High-quality, gourmet, and creative cuisine made with fresh ingredients, plated in the most stunning fashion. We can see why people fuss over Chef Todd Gray.
818 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Equinox does not typically serve brunch, but serves lunch all week long. Todd Gray is serving up brunch at the Muse Cafe at the Corcoran every Sunday. That review is coming soon.