‘Nibbles and Sips Around Town Does Brunch’ by Jordan Wright

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I’m often asked, “Where shall we go for brunch?” “It depends,” I evasively respond, clueless as to your expectations. Prefer outdoors, indoors or lavish buffet? Quick and cheap or farmer’s market sourced?

Do you languish over Bloody Marys or just need a quick morning fix? Would you like live entertainment with your eggs or just a place to kick back with the Sunday crosswords? Bringing friends and family or just for two? The following suggestions hope to inspire.

Brunch In

Ahhh, breakfast in bed – the ultimate luxury. Get a head start with perfect provisions from your local farmers market.

The Alexandria Farmers Market, one of the country’s oldest markets, delineates the perimeter of the fountains at City Hall on King Street.  Buy sausage biscuits, VA country ham, fresh OJ, farm fresh eggs, herbs, and a bouquet of lilacs for the breakfast tray. Saturdays from 5:30am–10:30am.

Herbs at The Alexandria Farmers Market. Photo by Jordan Wright.

The Bethesda Central Farm Market has recently moved its 30-plus vendors to the Bethesda Elementary School. Try the luscious cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, baked goods from the Farm Market Bakery, Susie Sunshine Sprouts, fresh fruits from Pong’s Orchard and Zeke’s Coffee. For a bit of Britain get the English bangers from MeatCrafters. Now at 7600 Arlington Blvd. at the intersection of Old Georgetown Road. Sundays from 9am-1pm.

FreshFarm Market in Dupont Circle, the granddaddy of urban markets, is in full swing with Dolcezza Gelato’s icy confections, Euro-style pastries and whole grain breads from the Bread Ovens at Quail Creek Farm, Bev Eggleston’s EcoFriendly Foods signature bacon, Blue Ridge Dairy Co.’s house made mozzarella and yogurt, and preserves from the Copper Pot.  Enjoy their Peach and Prosecco “Bellini” jam and don’t forget to fill your basket with farm fresh fruits and veggies. At 20th Street between Massachusetts and Connecticut Avenues.  Sundays from 8:30am–1pm.

Downtowners can access the Penn Quarter FRESHFARM Market where neighborhood chefs pick up specialty items like breads, cheeses, artisanal meats and farm-grown produce.  Grab crab cakes from Chris’ Marketplace, apples and gooseberries from Black Rock Orchard and honey from Sand Hill Farm. On 8th Street between D and E Streets. Thursdays from 3-7pm.

Penn Quarter Farmers Market. Photo by Jordan Wright.

Brunch Out

Todd Gray’s latest adventure is Muse at the Corcoran Gallery of Art where he will prepare a vegan brunch twice a month. Carnivores are most welcome. Pastry Chef Doran Petersen of Cupcake Wars and Sticky Fingers’ Bakery adds to the yum factor with her specialty vegan sticky buns. Standouts include Bananas Foster vegan pancakes with caramelized baby bananas, Grilled Polenta with asparagus sauce, roasted mushroom and black walnut pate Macaroni Salad with green peas and ramps; and Plantain Fritters with black bean and red onion marmalade. The $35 adult price (+tax and gratuity) includes a complimentary starter cocktail. Children age 12 or younger dine for $12. Reservations are recommended for Sunday Brunch. From 11am-2pm. Vegan brunches are on the first and third Sunday of every month. 500 Seventeenth St., NW.  Call 202-639-1786 or make your reservations here.

Muse Tomato Tarte.

Metro area music lovers just got some divine intervention with the recent openings of The Howard Theatre, the Melody Tavern and The Hamilton.

At The Hamilton you might find your own slice of heaven with the Howard Gospel Choir, the first college choir of its kind founded over four decades ago at Howard University. The all-you-can-eat down home soul food brunch features shrimp and grits, buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy, fried chicken, gumbo, BBQ pork and sweet potato hash, along with waffles, eggs and pancakes.  Each $25 ticket comes with a choice of Bloody Mary or Mimosa. From From 10-11:30am and 12:30–2pm. This is a ticketed brunch and reservations are a must. Call 202-787-1000 or visit

The Hamilton. Photo by Ron Blunt.

Competition will be stiff with the all-you-can-eat gospel brunch at the newly renovated historic Howard Theatre featuring the hallelujah chorus of the Harlem Gospel Choir. The menu offers Southern-style dishes created by famed Top Chef Master Marcus Samuelsson and set against a Beaux Arts backdrop. The menu’s not out yet – the spot’s so new – but we’re counting on it to be fabulous to the max. Reservations strongly suggested. Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 the day of the show. From 12:30-2:30pm at 620 T Street, NW. Check the website’s calendar for artist’s performance schedule.

Jaared Arosemena - the 'Sax Man' at Melody Tavern.

If you imagine your Sunday with a mellower vibe, check out the stylish new Melody Tavern in Crystal City for their Jazz Brunch. The well-priced á la carte menu takes you down home with country-style chicken and biscuits, shrimp and grits, steak and eggs and so much more. This month groove to the smooth sounds of “Sax Man” Jaared Arosemena. From 10am-2pm at 3650 South Glebe Road, Arlington, VA. Call 703-413-4141 for reservations.

Digging deep into Southern foodways is Sou’Wester at the Mandarin Oriental.  James Beard Award-winner of “Best Chefs In America” Eric Ziebold, formerly of Spago and French Laundry does not disappoint. An á la carte menu brings pan-seared Maryland soft shall crab with jambalaya, tasso ham and spicy shrimp emulsion and hush puppies served with honey butter. Or choose the North Carolina shrimp with Anson Mills grits, pickled okra and smoked shrimp sauce.  Dessert captivates with fried apple pie or rhubarb clafoutis served with baked meringue, ginger streusel and rhubarb sorbet. From 11:45am-4pm 1330 Maryland Avenue, SW. Make your reservation here or call 202-787-6148.

Rhubarb clafoutis at Sou'Wester at the Mandarin Oriental.
As a huge fan of seafood the brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC in tiny Georgetown is a religious experience of an entirely different stripe. Lavish displays of luscious pink shrimp, raw oysters, crab claws, Bloody Mary oyster shooters, Ahi tuna, seviches, crabcakes and seared scallops beckon. Even the omelette station has lump crabmeat. But there’s so much more to love.

Seven separate stations gleam with creatively conceived salads like curried cauliflower with chickpeas and golden raisins; the spinach salad packed with walnuts, goat cheese, strawberries and chrysanthemum (oh my!); and another made with sunflower sprouts, corn shoots, broccoli sprouts and lime.

Over on the meat side there’s beef tenderloin medallions with Bing cherry demi-glaze or pistachio crusted lamb loin with fig compote  How about a full-out charcuterie station? Or go old school with house made pork sausages nestled alongside of creamy scrambled eggs.

The elegant room, overlooking the canal, even has a pickle station with pickled pearl onions, fiddlehead ferns and Alba mushrooms. If Asian is your thing Moo Shoo pancakes are made with Peking duck.

Pastry Chef Jennifer Krause crafts heavenly baked breads and breakfast pastries to make you feel like a naughty child let loose in a French bakeshop. Go for it. Even cheeseheads are given the nod with Prima Donna, Murcia Al Vino, Gjetoast, Cahill’s Porter, Manchego and Griftin.

A small selection of brunch sweets at the Four Seasons Washington. Photo by Jordan Wright.

Caveat for newbies. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Off to one side is the dessert room with splendors so tempting you’ll imagine you’ve just discovered the Holy Grail as you discover row upon row of petite sweets to corrupt the innocent. Dig in!

Executive Chef Doug Anderson who is proud of his partnerships with local farmers, is clearly showing off here and you’re the beneficiary. Brunch is served in the hotel’s Seasons Restaurant from 10:30am–2:30pm at $80.00 pp.  2800 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.  Make your reservations here or call 202-944-2000.

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Jordan Wright
Jordan Wright is an accomplished writer on food, spirits, travel, and theatre. Her clients include the tony Georgetowner and hip sister publication the Downtowner, the Washington Examiner and San Francisco Examiner, as well as LocalKicks.com, DC Metro Magazine, Washington Life Magazine, Washingtonian Magazine, MDTheatreGuide.com, The Alexandria Times, Hartkeisonline.com, and now DCMetroTheaterArts. Her articles feature restaurant openings, food and wine events, food-oriented film reviews, farmer’s markets, food trends, restaurant reviews, food memories, new food products, hotels, spas, resorts and interviews with the country’s leading chefs – from Jose Andres and Top Chef’s Carla Hall, to CakeLove’s Warren Brown and Top Chef’s Spike Mendelsohn. She has also interviewed famed chef and TV star, Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, cookbook author Joan Nathan, and director Robert Kenner for an in-depth article about his film Food, Inc. Photographs by Wright accompany many of her articles and NBCNews.com has picked up and used several of her stories. Jordan Wright hails from three generations of show business. Her grandmother, Betty Morton, was a Ziegfield Follies girl; her step-grandmother Corinne Griffith, a noted author and silent screen star wrote Hail to the Redskins; her father, Georgie Price, an entertainer and founder of The Lamb’s Club in New York, as well as a CBS radio show host, songwriter and vaudevillian; her sister, Penny Larsen Vine, a theatre critic both on radio and in print for Variety, a former longtime member of the Outer Critics Circle, and a lead performer in countless national touring companies; one brother, Peter Price, appeared in leading roles in over 16 major motion pictures for MGM; while her other brother, Marshall Price performed at Carnegie Hall. Niece, Stephanie Vine, was the final Annie in the original production of Annie on Broadway, and niece, Liz Larsen, has received two Tony nominations and a Helen Hayes award for lead actress in Sunday in the Park with George. Wright sang with Columbia Records in New York and Barclay Records in France. In the sports world her grandfather was the original owner and founder of the Washington Redskins football team. Wright has traveled throughout four continents and currently resides in Old Town Alexandria.