News & Politics

The Blogger Beat: Brunch and the City

Love brunch? We do. Read on for our interview with the late-morning-meal expert Claudia Holwill.

Brunch in the City's Claudia Holwill. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Blogger Claudia Holwill is brunch’s Carrie Bradshaw: “My college roommates and I watched Sex and the City together, and it always seemed to trigger my desire to write,” she says. “I’m not the type to write about my personal life or dating life, so I went with food instead.” The name Brunch and the City seemed the perfect fit.

She started the blog two years ago to fill what she saw as a hole in the food-blogging scene: “No one else was really covering brunch, and I knew there was so much more that could be shared,” she says. Holwill blogs about her favorite brunch spots, of course, but also posts recipes, foodie gossip, and the occasional ode to bacon, her favorite food. Her most useful feature: a list of bottomless-drink deals at brunch spots throughout Washington.

We caught up with the 29-year-old to find out where she’s brunched lately. Read on for her favorite brunch spots, recipes for at-home brunches, and her pick for the most unusual brunch menu in town.

Number of brunches you’ve eaten in the past month:
“In January, I went to four restaurants and cooked a massive breakfast feast for ten people at a friend’s ski cabin. I wish I could go to brunch every Saturday and Sunday, but I’d be broke if I did.”

Favorite brunch-menu item:
“I have a major weakness for biscuits—but not just any biscuit. They have to be perfectly browned and crispy on the outside and light and buttery on the inside. Biscuits that are cold, heavy, or dry are such a letdown and served that way far too often.”

Favorite hangover-brunch food:
“Bacon and eggs with toast.”

Favorite place to go for brunch:

“People always ask me what my favorite brunch spot is, and I can never answer. With so many options, it’s really hard to narrow it down to one place! I think it really depends on the neighborhood, price, and atmosphere you’re looking for. If I’m by myself and just want someone else to cook me a good breakfast, I go to Jimmy T’s Place on Capitol Hill. A few places that I find myself recommending more than others are the Tabard Inn, Open City, Old Ebbitt Grill (but go early unless you don’t mind being surrounded by a ton of tourists), Busboys and Poets, and Matchbox. In Virginia, my favorites are Evening Star Café, Tallula, and Overwood.”

Restaurant with the most unusual brunch menu:

“Sticky Rice gets my vote for most-creative dish names, but once I went there, I discovered that all of the dishes are actually pretty standard brunch fare. However, they get props for an amazing twist on the mimosa: the Sakemosa. Instead of Champagne, they use sparkling sake—definitely worth a taste. Co Co. Sala also has a pretty unique brunch, but if you don’t like chocolate or dessert, this isn’t the brunch for you. Much like the regular menu, they incorporate chocolate into just about every item; my sweet tooth was in heaven.”

Favorite diner or dive:
“Jimmy T’s Place on Capitol Hill. It’s been run by the same family since 1969, and I don’t think it’s seen a bit of redecorating since. I’ve actually been going there since I was a little kid, so it holds a special place in my heart.”

Worst brunch place you’ve tried:
“I hate giving restaurants a bad review since I generally only try most places once for brunch. But I’ve found that the quality of food suffers if the brunch is served buffet style. Even brunch at Perrys, which is one of the more famous in town, left me a bit disappointed because the food was a kind of cold and not as good quality since it was cooked in bulk. But since they get the drinks right and the entertainment can’t be topped, they’re forgiven.”

Best bottomless-brunch-drinks deal in town:
“More places need to go with the bottomless-drink option at brunch, and any places that have bottomless drinks gets extra points from me. The best deal I’ve found so far is at the Red Derby, where mimosas and Bloody Marys are $2 with brunch or $4 without brunch. It’s not technically bottomless, but that’s so cheap that it ends up being cheaper than most other bottomless deals, which generally only apply to mimosas (not Bloody Marys). The Argonaut’s $9 bottomless-mimosa deal is one of my favorites in large part because it’s the kind of place where you can stay for several hours and not feel like the staff is staring you down so someone else can have your table. My servers there have also been great about making sure that I don’t see the bottom of my glass until I’m really ready to stop.”

Favorite brunch dish to make at home for weekend guests:
“There’s a baked-French-toast recipe I got from a friend a while back that has become one of my favorites to make. The secret is a sugary, buttery topping that makes it incredibly unhealthy but also too good to pass up. My other favorite dish to make for people is baked eggs in ham cups—it’s a recipe I got from the cookbook Gale Gand’s Brunch! The picture of this recipe is what made me buy the book in the first place.”

Pick one: Bloody Mary or mimosa.

Bacon or sausage?

“Bacon. It’s kind of embarrassing how often I treat bacon like a garnish when I’m cooking.”

Pancakes or French toast?
“Is there any way to combine blueberry pancakes and French toast into one dish?”

Favorite meal besides brunch:

“I’m tempted to say dinner, but only because I frequently eat breakfast foods at dinnertime. But I guess I’ll say dessert. I have a big sweet tooth, so dessert is often hard to pass up.”

What you’d eat for your last meal:
“This is a really tough one for me. All I know is that it’d have to include bacon, biscuits, and mimosas.”

Favorite local food blog besides your own:

“It’s a tie between the City Paper’s Young & Hungry and Capital Spice.”

Next week, we tap into our sartorial side with the men’s fashion blogger A.—he likes to keep his full name a secret—from the District Cut. Check back for his picks for best men’s accessory, must-have wardrobe staples, and most fashionable Washington neighborhood.

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