My very British father—affectionately known as Papa Love—stopped by Washington a few weekends ago to do a little embassy hopping.
This wasn’t a tourist trip up Massachusetts Avenue; it was all business. Mister Love is, in fact, going on a rather ridiculous adventure this summer, which requires the acquisition of no fewer than a dozen or so visas.
He is motorcycling from London to Bejing. Yes, you read that right.
Is my dad Richard Branson? No, but his adventures are sometimes nearing that extreme. I watch him travel the globe on a bike, slightly horrified and probably more nervous than a daughter should be (isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?).
He’s such a world traveler, that it’s a rarity for both his children to be in the same city as he. So my brother flew up for the weekend as well, and together we spent three days fixing things in my apartment, drinking beer at the Brewer’s Ball, and making, oh, 20 or so trips to Logan Hardware.
By Sunday, the British boys were ready for brunch. Get these men an English brekkie quick! We traipsed around the corner to The Brixton, the British pub on the corner of Ninth and U Street. I had been for brunch once before, right when the restaurant was brand new, so it was time for another visit.
The glory of a real British breakfast is a beautiful thing. I was happily surprised to see that The Brixton had changed up its brunch strategy and now offers the entire menu in a $20 unlimited small plates deal. Bottomless mimosas, Bloody Marys, or Bloody Caesars are only $15 more. Win.
The next happy surprise was the mix of dishes on the menu. It wasn’t just English breakfast food (your standard eggs, French toast, omelets, granola, and more) but also a healthy selection of Indian offerings. Double win. The only thing that was missing was an actual English Breakfast (eggs, toast, baked beans, the whole shebang), but the small plates thing worked just fine for us.
After ordering hot tea (but of course) we decided to go for the unlimited small plates—you can order a la carte if you wish, but if you go unlimited, the entire table must, too—and then bopped around in our seats to the great music (Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Bob Marley), drinking tea, and waiting for the onslaught of food to begin.
Ordering hot tea in a restaurant is always a precarious risk for a Brit. You never know if you’re going to get a Liptons Iced Tea bag in a dish of lukewarm water (the worst) or Sainsbury’s best. Papa Love was pleased with the pot that The Brixton gave him. It even came with “fancy tea bags, like whores’ stockings” he quipped.
Then the food began to arrive. My dad is a pescatarian, so we ordered the non-meat dishes. The samosas were great. They were just crispy enough and filled with hot curried potatoes, green peas, and carrots. They came with a spicy chutney on the side, but the menu offered a few other chutney options if you’d like.
The vegetable roti was nice and spiced. The potato patties (they looked almost like pancakes) had green chili, onion, coriander and peppers. A great, filling dish to start. It was the same with the Bengali fish cake. Although it was a bit too fishy and fried, it was served with a nice sweet and spicy chili sauce.
There were three types of kabobs available, so we went for two: the lamb and the veggie. The lamb was overcooked—burnt almost—but the veggie was perfect. Although the dishes seemed a bit meager once the rest of the food was on the table. We ended up barely touching them.
Those were the smallest dishes we received. The rest of the dishes on the menu were so large they could have been entrees unto themselves.
Of course, we had to get the fish ‘n’ chips. Last time I brunched at The Brixton, they served their fish ‘n’ chips as enormous filets and mountains of chips. This time, we got three small beer-battered haddock pieces served on top of small hand-cut fries in a paper cup that allowed just the right amount of grease to seep through.
The chips are hand-cut in the kitchen and, I think, were cut a bit too thin that day. As a result, they were a bit overcooked. As a result, we passed on the chips but devoured the amazing fish. It was light and flaky inside the fried batter. Beautifully done. Our second order we requested no chips, just fish.
On the side of the dish, real mushy peas! “Reasonably authentic mushiness,” said Papa Love. “They don’t quite have the luminous green glow.” There was also ketchup and a mustard dipping sauce, which was lovely.
The BLT sandwich was massive and absolutely perfect. It was house-cured smoked bacon, tomato, and lettuce, in between two perfectly toasted pieces of bread. Just like your classic BLT. On the side, thick herb fries that were much better than the chips that came with the fish ‘n’ chips.
There were two burger options, and my brother had to try one. Between the classic Brixton burger (bacon, onion jam and cheddar) and the Chorizo burger, he went with the latter. Good choice. It was house-made chorizo and yellow plantains, with sweet potato fries on the side.
For breakfast foods, there were eggs and sausage, omelets, and granola, but we went with the French toast. It was a very pretty dish, made with challah bread and covered with toffee sauce. On top, a single strawberry slice. Tasty.
But the real winner of the brunch was the miso glazed black cod. Our (very sweet) waitress whispered to us that she was shocked that the chef put this on the brunch menu, because it’s one of the best dinner dishes they have. She was right. The fish was fresh, flakey, moist,and full of flavor. The glaze perfected the dish. We ordered two rounds of that.
We didn’t order the Indian papaya curry in the end, as we thought we had probably overdone it with the food. We did see some servers walking by with the dish and it looked amazing, complete with naan bread. After that, the only thing that was missing from this brunch was homemade baked beans. Ok, now I’m just getting selfish.
The Bitches say: A- A few dishes were not perfect, but The Brixton has gotten its brunch strategy down pat. Most improved.
901 U St. N.W.
The Brixton serves brunch on Sundays.