It was a beautiful, hot September morning when I ventured over to Navy Yard to brunch at Scarlet Oak, a new American restaurant, with my friend Lauren.
Lauren is a laid-back, no frills kind of girl—a close, supportive friend who is always up for a run, glass of wine, or hour to talk. The world needs more people like her. We were seated on the patio outside Scarlet Oak, which is on the corner of First Street and New Jersey Ave. S.E. That area is being built up like crazy—tons of new apartment buildings and condos, and cranes in the sky building more.
Scarlet Oak opened a few months ago from the guys who own Southern Hospitality, a popular bar and restaurant on Columbia Road in Adams Morgan. Like Southern Hospitality, Scarlet Oak has an enormous patio and a great bottomless deal of $15 for mimosas only. We opted to try both the mimosa and Bellini—and then went for a second round of Bellinis. These Bellinis were delightful.
Like Southern Hospitality, Scarlet Oak serves up traditional American food with a slight Southern twist. You can order chicken and waffles, or a fried chicken eggs benny, but beyond that it’s salads, flat breads, Eggs Benedicts, and other reliable menu items. We began with the beet salad, which was served in a traditional fashion: large chunks of red beets with arugula and goat cheese. Is there a better salad than beets with arugula and goat cheese? Not in my book.
That’s the thing about Scarlet Oak: all the food arrives and it’s exactly what you’d expect. But, it’s a large portion, fresh and local, and satisfying. While it’s not the most adventurous of dining experiences, you leave full, happy, and still have money in your pocket.
Additionally, the team behind Scarlet Oak and Southern Hospitality made the move before opening to bring on an executive chef, who was formerly at Red Hen, and to source sustainably where possible. The produce comes from a local farm in Lancaster, and the eggs, meats, and cheeses are driven down by the Amish in Pennsylvania. The rockfish and salmon are line-caught, not farm raised. This is not a restaurant that sources from Cisco and a diner with a discerning palate—or someone who cares to know where there food comes from—can taste the difference. As someone who is both, I could certainly tell.
Typically, this sort of responsible sourcing of quality ingredients is relegated to upscale spots with higher price points—I’m pleased that Scalet Oak adds a relaxed, casual option to the mix.
I ordered the traditional breakfast, a large plate of eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, and wheat toast. You’re not given a choice with your eggs, they come scrambled, or your toast, it’s wheat. As someone who struggles with decision fatigue, I appreciated this. Additionally, this is not a diner so you don’t need 12 different ways to order eggs. You do get both bacon and sausage on your plate, and the sausage was really, really good.
So were the hash browns. Gosh, I hate it when you get those frozen, square blocks of hash browns. Those are the worst. These were the stringy kind, strings of mushy, warm, moist potato with a crispy, fried outside. They were absolutely delicious.
Lauren ordered the fried chicken Eggs Benedict, which was as delicious as it sounds. The thin, moist strips of fried chicken were atop buttery, flakey biscuits, topped with a poached egg, and drizzled with a light Hollandaise. It was a decadent dish—but it could have been overpoweringly rich, but it wasn’t. Bravo, Scarlet Oak.
For dessert, we knew crepes were the right decisions. The menu offers Nutella, strawberry, or ham and cheese crepes. While I considered Nutella, I love fresh fruit so we decided on strawberry. The crepes were filled with macerated strawberries and whipped cream, rolled up, and topped with more strawberries and whipped cream. They were perfection.
All in all, the food at Scarlet Oak is fresh and delicious staple food in large portions. It’s the perfect neighborhood restaurant. It’s also perfect for bottomless brunch on the patio before a Nats Game—or for dinner after. The prices are more than fair. And, I’d travel back across town for those Bellinis and fried chicken Eggs Benny.
The Bitches say: A. Scarlet Oak is a relaxed and unpretentious neighborhood restaurant with fresh, well-prepared American fare, a large patio, and a great bottomless deal of $15.
909 New Jersey Ave. S.E.
Scarlet Oak serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.