In the Tradition
Black Market Bistro (4600 Waverly Ave., Garrett Park; 301-933-3000; entrées $10 to $14). “This is everything brunch should be,” says a gray-haired woman at a nearby table. Every detail at Jeff and Barbara Black’s wainscoted, no-reservations Garrett Park restaurant—packed from the 10 am get-go—has been considered: There’s lovely housemade applesauce with the potato pancakes, bacon made even better with a brushing of maple syrup, French toast scented with orange and vanilla bean. It makes you take things like the fresh orange juice for granted. The only blight, besides the sometimes long wait: You have to pack up the leftovers yourself.
Blue Duck Tavern (1201 24th St., NW; 202-419-6755; entrées $14 to $26). Even if you don’t spring for the $15 glass pot of Extreme Display tea—a flower emerges from the cluster of tea leaves as it’s steeping—brunch at Blue Duck is rife with elegant touches. A square of scrapple shows up on a silver salver. Sugar comes by the lump. And tongs are everywhere. Window tables are the most coveted perch for savoring briny Revel Island oysters, a perfect Benedict with thick slices of pink Irish bacon and ethereal hollandaise, or a silkily robust veal-and-mushroom stew. And though they’re not billed as dessert, crisp Belgian waffles with a ramekin of fresh whipped cream make a good one.
Poste Moderne Brasserie (555 Eighth St., NW; 202-783-6060; entrées $11 to $19). This hopping restaurant pumps new life into the standard hotel-brunch menu by emphasizing big, palate-awakening flavors: a zesty, overstuffed duck-Reuben sandwich; grilled toasts smeared with aïoli and capped with briny white anchovies and pear tomatoes; wonderful lavender-flecked doughnuts (yeast, not cake) cooked to order and rolled in sugar. There’s the usual complement of eggs and such, all dressed up with unexpected touches and handled with the sort of finesse that should banish any memories of a station-style hotel brunch.
And the award for best hangover cure goes to . . .
BlackSalt (4883 MacArthur Blvd., NW; 202-342-9101; entrées $8 to $17). If it’s a sunglasses-indoors morning, head to this sleek fish market/dining room in DC’s Palisades, which is kept dark and quiet at brunchtime. Strong Illy coffee, a gratis bowl of chopped pineapple and melon, and a plate of Louisiana-style Benedict—two runny poached eggs over cornbread with cayenne-stoked hollandaise and a vinegary, spicy sauté of crawdads—not to mention gentle prices, will put some spring back in your step.