We all have those go-to spots where we can count on a great, satisfying meal in a pinch, a fabulous catch-up dinner with girlfriends, or a place to woo out-of-town visitors. Mine is Lavagna, which, unfortunately, is nowhere near my 14th Street apartment, but certainly worth the trek to Barracks Row.
I brunched at Lavagna two years ago and have returned more times than I can count for dinner. I hadn’t been back to brunch, however, in quite some time. My Auntie Deb was in town for a fall visit, but I had been too busy with work to make up my usual itinerary for visitors.
Naturally, we planned to tour the National Mall, so in a spur-of-the-moment decision I knew Lavagna would be a great pick for brunch. Then, we could walk down the Hill, rather than up it, to burn off our calories post-brunch. Brilliance, I tell you.
I hate to spoil the story, but, Lavagna’s brunch is still great. If this was a love story, I’d say we fell in love two years ago and our relationship is still going strong: Lavagna still knows how to treat a lady right, stay reliable, and keep the love alive.
The bread is foccacia toast with delicious whipped honey butter. As a carb queen, this is a perfect way to start the day. I quite like the coffee at Lavagna, too, and the servers keep my little white mug filled to the brim.
If you’re cocktailing, bottomless bevvies are a mere dozen dollars. If you’re craving bubbles, you can opt for mimosas, bellinis (strawberry, raspberry, mixed berry), or pure prosecco. If it’s tomato juice you crave, opt for the house-blend Bloody Mary mix served with vodka (Bloody Mary), tequila (Bloody Diablo), or house horseradish vodka (Bloody Edy).
We began with the fresh fruit plate, which has kept up to its standards of high quality despite being served in a bowl rather than on a plate. The featured fresh fruit was a variety of grapes, strawberries, pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, oranges, pears, and grapefruit. It’s topped with a chunk of honeycomb, a nice touch.
It should be noted that Lavagna has really stepped up their potato game. (Wow, I’ve clearly been writing about brunch far too long.) The house potatoes (read: home fries) are now fried in truffle oil and covered in Parmesan cheese. Because, that’s all you really need to do to make something amazing: cook it in truffle oil and cover in Parmesan. (Aspiring chefs, take note.)
The potatoes come alongside most of the entrees and are a splendid way to soak up the alcohol from the previous evening’s festivities.
For my entree, I selected the arugula omelet, a new addition to the brunch menu. The enormous omelet was filed to the brim with my favorite greens, tomatoes, and melted smoked gouda and was drizzled with a basil creme fraiche. The creme fraiche provided great flavor to the dish and really upped the ante on your run-of-the-mill breakfast dish. I felt healthy but satiated, which is what I strive for in any meal.
For her entree, Auntie Deb selected the eggs any style (her go-to) served soft scrambled and with house bacon, focaccia toast, and the aforementioned truffle potatoes. “These scrambled eggs are so flavorful and moist,” she remarked. She’s a picky Bitch about her eggs and does not bestow compliments without warrant.
Lavagna has also changed up their pancakes. The old pancakes were really, really delicious. The new pancakes are really, really delicious. Also, enormous: These pancakes are bigger than my head. The enormous, fluffy yet thin buttermilk pancakes are served drizzled with a mascarpone Nutella sauce for the most satisfying result.
The pancakes are stacked three high so when you cut your fork into the pile you get the most satisfying, thick, fluffy bites of layers of pancakes with Nutella mascarpone flavor. This is happiness.
Last but not least, we sampled the Eggs Benedict special, which was Southern carnivorous splendor. (Co-Bitch Becca would be jealous.) This Eggs Benedict featured cured hickory smoked face bacon, sauteed spinach, sous vide eggs and a poblano Hollandaise.
I, of course, ate around the bacon, but Auntie Deb enjoyed the very rich face bacon. This is a unique, rich, messy take on the traditional Eggs Benedict and worth the trip for anyone who loves great bacon or quality Hollandaise. Just call to make sure they’re still serving the special.
The Bitches say: still an A+. The restaurant serves up a gourmet brunch with a great bottomless option. Moreover, the ambiance has gotten more lively; some Bitches must have recommended it.
539 8th St. S.E.
Lavagna serves brunch Saturday and Sunday.