I’m not a big fan of babies. I think they can be equated to dogs: slobbery, high maintenance and a huge commitment (go ahead, hate me).
That said, there is one particular little bean that I have grown quite a fondness to of late. Her name is Miss Mina, and she recently popped out of my godmother’s eldest daughter. (Because that’s how babies are born, right. They pop out.)
The family lives off U Street, and together they push their super-fancy and probably-very-expensive swivel-top stroller to brunch on the weekends like a proper chic urban family. The addition of said stroller—and the impeccably dressed babe chilling inside—means a new equation for brunch rezzies when meeting the happy couple for a weekend catch-up sesh.
You see, you can’t exactly specify to OpenTable “table for six plus a place to park the wheels, please.” So, instead, we have to call around and use our best judgment from the photos on a restaurant’s website to determine the amount of space between tables (will passing servers bump the stroller or, God forbid, be prone to spill something on ze child?!).
Those sorts of inquiries make me feel old and sort of depressed, so I let Mina’s mom do the honors. After a couple of chats and some deliberation over server-to-stroller aisle space she determined we were meeting for brunch in Columbia Heights at The Coupe. I was fine with this—the 24-hour restaurant, from the owners of Open City, Tryst, and The Diner—had just opened earlier last week and I sadly missed the fete. So I was looking forward to trying the spot.
Boyfriend and I arrived right at 11 a.m, and there was already a crowd of people in the entrance. My favorite family was there waiting, as the restaurant doesn’t actually take reservations, and they got there a bit early to put our name down. The place was busy for its opening weekend, so busy that when we asked the barista for a glass of water for parched mom, he looked at us in a bit of a panic and said, “I don’t have time.”
Really? Lady with a baby here.
The rest of our party arrived, and together we took in our surroundings. The restaurant is long and narrow, with a coffee and pastry bar in the middle, the dining room on one side and a lounge-y part on the opposite side that is fitted with imitation-vintage couches and chairs. You know, like the ones in all the other D.C. lounges.
The lounge-y side looks like it will one day be an adorable, comfortable coffee shop to sit in with your laptop and work (much like Tryst) once it grows into itself. The diner side looks like a brand-spanking-new Denny’s but with babies. Babies everywhere. Crawling over chairs, in high seats, making smudges on the glass partition between the booths. I shuddered and watched.
Finally, after a half-hour wait, a table was cleared and we were seated. We all ordered coffee and pastries to stave off our hunger, and set to work perusing the enormous menu. In true diner style, the place serves breakfast 24 hours a day. For Columbia Heights residents, this offers a fabulous alternative to the IHOP around the corner.
In addition to that glorious round-the-clock breakfast section, there are a few other sections of food: pastries and dessert; snacks, cheeses, salads, and sandwiches; and small plates, dinners, and specials. We all ordered from the breakfast page, of course, but first we enjoyed our coffee (served with animal crackers—adorbs) and pastries.
The chocolate croissant was delish and perfectly sticky and sweet. The cranberry coffee cake, so tasty. The banana bread? Quite possibly the best thing we ate that whole day. It arrived warm and you could break it off in chunks to share. I would like a loaf of that stuff, please, to go.
We were glad we had ordered those pastries with our drinks, because the food took forever to arrive. Like, over an hour. Miss Mina, donning her Bitch-in-training pants, was already zonked out. Her way of saying, what the hell is taking so long with the kitchen?
Finally, the food. My fried chicken biscuit arrived as just that: a big biscuit cut in half with two pieces of fried chicken in between. Oh, and there was some pepper jelly in there, too. The top of the biscuit arrived with what looked like a pool of grease on top (the menu read that it was honey butter-glazed), and I wiped it off in order to take a bite and not get the grease on my nose.
If I were desperately hungover and in need of something to soak it up, I would have devoured this sammich in a heartbeat. Instead, I had one bite, hamburger-style, then knocked the biscuits away from the fried chicken and just ate the chicken by itself. Thankfully, I had ordered a side of bacon, not initially realizing that the sandwich didn’t come with any sides.
Miss Mina and her dad ate a Toad in the Hole. And it wasn’t from a fairy tale book. It was chipped beef gravy, hashbrowns, and eggs all on top of Brioche bread. Looked a bit soggy towards the end, and the gravy was mostly tasteless.
“The Coupe Breakfast” is their version of the Denny’s Gland Slam. Eggs any way you want ‘em, with a side of 52 decisions to customize your dish: Hashbrowns or grits? Two pancakes or French toast? Bacon, ham, sausage, or chicken sausage? Veuve or Perrier Jouet? OK, just kidding on that last one.
Yes, this is a diner, which was exemplified by all the various greasy Grand Slams that were presented to the table.
But, there were two other dishes that stood out above the rest. First, my boyfriend’s Grits & Grillades, which was a dish of roasted garlic and cheddar grits, with Creole-braised short rib, caramelized onions, and peppers in the middle. He ate the entire thing and loved it.
Also, the Tunisian baked eggs was a great, unique dish, and by far the prettiest on the table. Roasted potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, onions, lamb sausage, two eggs over easy. The sausage was spicy, too! The entire dish was interesting and tasty.
By the time we finished and the plates were cleared (another hour later), Miss Mina had finally woken up. She stuck her tongue out at the orange juice sitting on the table, mirroring exactly how I felt. We clearly shared the same opinion of this place.
The Bitches say: C+ Total diner, with lots of kinks to still work out. Go there late-night or if you’re in need of hangover-soaking low-key diner food for brunch. Or just go for the WiFi, coffee, and pastries and skip the food altogether.
3415 11th Street N.W.
The Coupe serves breakfast all day, every day.