The Passenger and Birch & Barley Silence My Standard Brunch Bitchings
After waiting in a line that extended out the door, I'm now surrounded by an army of parents with their baby strollers, who are waging a noise offensive. My eggs aren’t warm, and my distracted server looks as hungover as me. My cocktail may be bottomless, but what's the point if it's merely a horrible flute of champagne and re-constituted OJ or a glass of bloody Mary that tastes of jarred salsa?
Yeah, I’m ready to repeat what others have said before me – most brunches suck.
It could be that I’m biased. I often prefer paddling around at home, playing jazz records and waiting on my pot of hand-pressed coffee, but sometimes I want to let someone else do the dishes. So after poking around the city a few weekends, I’ve finally found two brunch offerings that warrant attention.
Birch and Barley’s “Boozy Brunch” on Sunday is as much an economic salve as a hangover cure. For $30, you get a plate of doughnut holes, all the coffee (or iced tea) you can drink, an entrée, and a choice of two cocktails that pack serious punch. The "Michelada" matches a savory tomato puree with the cool effervescence of a pilsner beer. The champagne cocktails boast fresh fruit purees and decent bubbles, and the doughnut holes — well, they’re topped with bacon.
Those who want to focus more attention on the sweets can order three full-sized doughnuts for $6.
Near Mount Vernon Square, the Passenger offers another hangover counter-offensive. Enough has been written about the cocktail prowess of the Brown brothers, but their brunch menu deserves attention, too. The chilaquiles pair fried tortilla strips tossed in a smoky mole with a fried egg, avocado, and hot sauce. The biscuits and gravy sampled on one visit may be the best I’ve encountered.
Menu aside, the Passenger has set up a brunch joint for those of us without the parental obligation to stay sober on Sunday. Running 'til midnight, the brunch here attracts a decidedly stroller-less crowd, and the customers come to booze.
Am I wrong to think brunch is the bastard child of the restaurant world? Birch & Barley and the Passenger are making me rethink my stance, but what do you think? What other brunch offerings do you think are worth venturing out on a Sunday with a headache? Or should I just stay home?