So much of D.C. is shiny and new. We appreciate all of the new restaurants popping up all over, but it’s always nice to dine at a place with character. Iron Gate in downtown D.C. is known for its historic charm and beautifully refurbished walls and decor. We’ve dined at Iron Gate before, but it had been a minute, so we wanted to make sure it’s still up to snuff as a delicious and romantic brunch spot.
I brought my two friends, Marielle and Morgan, to brunch with me on a windy Sunday morning. Usually, I arrive to my brunch reservations on the earlier side, but this time, I was super late. The hostess and wait staff were all extremely nice, though, and seated my friends while they waited for me.
The aesthetic at Iron Gate is nothing shy of magical. Twinkling lights drape the exterior, 1920s style furnishings line the interior, and a gorgeous courtyard with outdoor seating separated a front and back dining room. Built in 1875 as a women’s club, Iron Gate is one of the oldest restaurants in D.C. The unique space is unlike any other establishment in the city.
The menu had a Mediterranean twist and was divided by smaller plates, mains, and sides. The cocktail and wine list was also extensive, but after being late, I stuck to what I knew best: a spicy Bloody Mary and a bubbly Mimosa.
Both cocktails were beautifully presented: an elegant, flute glass for the mimosa and a standard tall glass for the Bloody Mary. The Bloody Mary wasn’t overly tomato based, and the Mimosa was made with a nice dry brut.
A few appetizers immediately caught my attention. The lemon mini doughnuts, a phyllo pastry dish, and the dish of the hour: the sesame-crusted feta. I figured since there were three of us, we might as well just order three appetizers, right?
The lemon doughnuts were served in a mini dutch oven pan and were piping hot. They were definitely the smallest and cutest donuts we had ever seen, and they exploded with lemon flavor upon biting into one.
Shortly after the donuts, the phyllo pastry arrived. This dish was almost like a pyhllo inspired bread pudding- crunchy and sweet on the outside, and gooey, melty on the inside. We probably could have saved these for dessert, but we are mature adults who can make our own decisions!
I was waiting with bated breath for the feta to arrive, so I could dive in. Perfect squares covered in multicolored sesame were right before my eyes. They were so elegant, I didn’t even want to touch it. Drizzled with balsamic and honey, this feta was screaming my name. I scooped a hefty bite and the warm dish tasted tangy, salty, and crunchy. I think if I ordered this again, I wouldn’t share.
It took us a few minutes to decide what we would order for our mains. I was blown away by the apps, I just wanted something simple. I ordered the olive oil fried eggs, Marielle got the avocado toast with tuna on top, and Morgan got the ricotta pancakes.
We were all so impressed by brunch so far, our conversation centered around how excited we were to come back for dinner one night.
My olive oil fried eggs were fragrant, and came with the perfect accompaniments. A fresh, acidic salad and the best regular potato fries I have ever had. The potatoes were still in wedge form, but unevenly cut to make for a variation of crispness. This is a classic dish anyone would be crazy not to love.
Morgan’s ricotta pancakes were the right amount of sweetness and could easily be shared because of their ample size. They had crunchy hazelnuts within them, which added a little more complexity to these fluffy hotcakes. Dusted with powdered sugar, and drowned in true maple syrup, these pancakes were a win.
Marielle’s toast was served on a fresh, crunchy bread with the same salad as my dish. The toast had meticulously sliced avocado (an under-appreciated art) and well seasoned tuna salad that will put any canned tuna salad you’re making for lunch to shame. We felt proud to add a little more sustenance to our avocado toast game.
Our waitress asked how we were doing, even though she could tell that we were ecstatic. She asked if we wanted any dessert, but she could also tell we were definitely too full to function.
The Bitches say: A. Iron Gate has done it again. Ambiance, food quality, and menu originality are all reasons why this spot will never go out of style. We will be back very soon.
Iron Gate serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.