Last night, I dreamed about brunch. Don't get me wrong - I love food - but this is not a normal occurrence for me. But today was no normal day. Today was the day that Kate, me, & eight of our closest friends (well, a few we'd never met before, but that's OK) kicked off the 'official' Great DC Brunch Tour of 2009-2010. We decided to launch our nascent voyage through the wonderful world of DC's best meals of the day at the creme de la creme - literally. Our party of 10 came together at Creme Cafe & Lounge on U st in the up-and-coming, stupidly named 'midtown' neighborhood of the District.
I must admit - I was nervous when I walked in from the rain to a small, hot, packed room with NO available tables & very limited standing room. I was skeptical that we would ever get seated or served, & spent a few minutes standing out in the rain to avoid passing out from claustrophobia inside. But I was pleasantly surprised when, after only half an hour (not a bad wait for city brunch, let alone for a party of 10 at a restaurant that seats fewer than 100!), the hostess came out to escort the "Kate, party of 10" to our table right in the middle of the dining room. The music was a little loud, and the decor was, as the great Randy Jackson would say "just a'ight for me," but I was more focused on the food anyway. And the food, my friends, was delicious.
Our waitress bounced around the table taking drink orders - still not sure what her 'system' was - and couldn't get one of our friends an Arnold Palmer (it's just lemonade and iced tea...) but otherwise the service was great. I normally hate getting stuck on the end of the table with a large party, but the service at Creme was speedy & the company was good, so it worked out fine. The coffee came quickly & was delicious & abundant, always a good start at brunch! Our orders were speedily taken &, just a few minutes later, began pouring out.
The spread was beautiful - from Belgian waffles to benedicts to green eggs and ham. The bravest of the brunch bunch ordered (with much encouragement from me!) the house special: fried chicken and waffles. He didn't offer to let me try it - & I didn't know him well enough to ask! - but he said it was delicious & it sure looked it. My own bacon & spinach quiche was simple but very tasty, & the little greens & fruit salads on the side made a complete dish. Sure, five pieces of melon aren't exactly a stunning fruit salad, but still a nice touch. The Belgian waffles & french toast came topped with fresh berries & were light and delicious, the green eggs & ham...well, I avoided that one, but the bacon was cooked perfectly, & I hear from an expert that the potatoes were perfection. [Note from your Suburban Sweetheart: THE POTATO EXPERT IS ME, y'all!]
Creme gets brunch right - the menu is pretty simple, most dishes come with a little fruit to keep things fresh, and the water and coffee flowed fast enough to keep the hangovers in check. Kudos to the hostess for making an extra effort to take care of us and to the chef for a delicious beginning to the brunch tour!
Brunch by the numbers (all ratings out of 10)
- Service: 8 - speedy, attentive, and very understanding of our oversized party
- Food: 8 - good variety and a bit more creative than your standard DC brunch; everything lived up to expectations but nothing blew my mind
- Decor: 5 - standard
- Noise: 4 - my least favorite thing about Creme was the din in the dining room
- Value: 7 - a few bucks above normal brunch, but worth it
- Coffee: 8.5 - strong and smooth, and lots of it. Would get higher marks if it weren't so pricey...