So, I’ve got this guy. It’s not what you think, but next to my Dad he’s my favorite guy around. An artist, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, a DJ, a traveler, a writer, a web designer, a sports guy, and, of course, a hipster—he’s a 21st century Renaissance man.
Like me, Mauhan is a “why not?” type of person, which leads to all sorts of fun, from concerts to dance parties to art projects, and plenty of spontaneity.
Problem is, my partner-in-crime is practically nocturnal, and often traveling, so while M accompanies me to many a cocktail party, he had never been to brunch, at least not with this Bitch.
On this most noteworthy occasion, we opted for Et Voila, a charming Belgian restaurant up in the Palisades, and procured a Zipcar to get there. As one of our many commonalities is an inability to arrive on time, we showed up an hour past our reservation. (However I did call to notify.)
I had been to Et Voila, a lovely, traditional Belgian restaurant, on a few lovely, romantic dinner dates with shallow, disingenuous men. So, I was excited to be back at one of my favorite restaurants with one of the good guys, even if he teases me mercilessly sometimes.
Et Voila recently launched brunch with a bottomless option. You may have your sparkling wine with your choice of fresh-squeezed juice: orange, peach, or raspberry. I knew we both wanted the raspberry option, so I selected orange juice.
“Why didn’t you get raspberry?” he inquired as I stole a sip of his. “Because I knew you wanted it,” I replied as our eyes caught the shadow of a clock on the wall before mulling over the menu.
“I bet you love that clock” I said simultaneously as he said, “That’s pretty cool.” The best sort of friendships are those where you know someone to the point of predictability and still have new, exciting things to talk about every day.
Mauhan and I are both Pescetarians, which makes deciding upon and splitting dishes simple and mutually beneficial. However, that day we were overwhelmed by the multitude of delicious options on the brunch menu at Et Voila.
While we pondered, we munched on warm, fresh French bread. A staple at European and French restaurants of which I could never tire.
I was having trouble deciding between two of my favorite dishes, the tuna tartare and the beet salad, for my appetizer. M wanted the tartare so we opted to go halvsies, and made a similar decision about our entrees.
However, as our waiter gave us time to chat, indecision became our greatest foe.
“Wait, I kind of want the endive frisée salad,” said Mauhan with a slight note of indecision in his voice. However, he’s far too cool to ever admit he’d been afflicted with order anxiety.
“Order whatever you’d like, you’re the guest,” I insisted, though silently annoyed I wouldn’t be having any tuna.
“Oh, but the leek soup special sounds good.”
“I love leeks,” I replied.
“Well then maybe we should do that?”
Now I was actually kind of annoyed.
“No, let’s stick with the original plan” he pronounced quickly and with authority as the waiter arrived. “I’ll take the tuna tartare.”
The tartare was beautifully presented, topped with baby greens and curly parsnip chips and served in the center of a plate decorated with the aioli sauce. The tuna was exceptionally fresh and light, but packed a great flavor.
Meanwhile, unlike most beet salads, the dish at Et Voila is served chopped in a bowl, which allows for the dressing to disperse evenly upon each bite. It was served with chopped pecans, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, and diced scallions.
For our entrées, Mauhan and I both prioritized the salmon Eggs Benedict, followed by the buckwheat crepe.
After several back-and-forths—I’ve never seen him so indecisive as he is at brunch—the gentleman left me with my Eggs Benny and opted for the buckwheat crepe, topped with a sunnyside up egg and served with mixed greens. This may be a result of the fact he eats healthier than I do.
I’m happy I settled on the salmon Eggs Benedict as it was one of the better Benedicts I’ve had in my tenure as a Brunchin’ Bitch. The salmon was fresh and a titch fishy, the eggs were perfectly poached, and the muffins warmly toasted. But, the most exemplary component of the Benedict was the utterly perfect Hollandaise sauce, clearly made fresh that morning in the finest fashion.
Both entrees were served with sides of mixed greens that were a nice compliment although a bit heavy on the dressing.
And then, finally, after two courses, two rounds of mimosas and leisurely banter, we arrived at the best part of any meal: dessert.
From the instant I had glanced at the menu on our arrival, I knew I wanted the Crepes Suzette, a traditional French dish of crepes with a caramelized sugar with a citrus tinge.
“Il Flottante Meringue sounds exciting,” said Mauhan about a dish that was described as a floating meringue on a vanilla custard crème. “But, we should only get one.”
As he had opted to behave like a gentleman at brunch (most of the time I’m treated like a sister), the meringue was overruled in the interest of my temporary satisfaction and the Crepes Suzette.
However, we both won out when our waiter insisted we order both. We didn’t argue.
The Crepes Suzette was pure perfection: folded warm crepes laden crusted with caramelized sugar and laden with a sauce of caramelized sugar, butter and orange.
The best thing about French cuisine is that there’s always plenty of butter and sugar involved—and presented in their purest form.
“God, I wish I didn’t love sugar so much,” confessed M as he stuck his fork into one of the crepes. “I could have just had this for my meal.” Yeah, those crepes were unbelievably good.
Meanwhile, Il Flottante can best be described as eating sweet, fluffy clouds. The beautiful meringue had a light, airy consistency that spooned easily on to the bed of vanilla crème custard beneath it. Garnished with fresh raspberries (my favorite), the dish was lovely, satisfying, and, as it was made of clouds, not too heavy for the end of a meal.
The Bitch & Brunchin Bro say: A. Et Voila is a true gem amid a sea of Washington restaurants for its fresh, authentic Belgian cuisine, and its brunch is no exception. The ambiance is quaint and slightly stark, this is a place you visit for a quality meal rather than the convivial atmosphere.
5120 MacArthur Blvd N.W.