Sunday, February 9, 2014

Agua 301 Brunch Review

Pumpkin Pancakes

It's been a couple of months since I got wowed by the kind folks at Agua 301 last December, two days after their grand opening. I've been dying to get back for brunch, but weekends are busy and... Well, you know the routine. However, nothing (subfreezing temperatures, Red Line delays on Metro) was going to stop me yesterday; and I finally got to order Pumpkin Pancakes! The results were predictably... awesome.

Agua 301 looks even better in the daytime; but the Navy Yard area isn't exactly a whirlwind of activity on a Saturday morning. That suits me just fine, as I was able to secure a window seat (with a view of the fountains) with zero difficulty. My server Jan warmed me up with terrific service, water and some of the best chips and salsa ever. I'm serious: Agua 301's salsa has no equal in the DC area... It's the best. To be honest, I wasn't even in the mood for chips so early; but one bite, and I was hooked. The salsa (more brown than red, maybe that has something to do with it?) is addictive with a great kick... even five minutes later. When you go, be greedy... ask for more: You can thank me later.

Chips & Salsa

Jan offered me time to look over the menu; but I already knew what I wanted... Pumpkin Pancakes ($10 with spiced pepitas, ginger butter (clever) and chile infused maple syrup (more please!)) I also had to have a Jarritos soda ($3.50, available in Mandarin, Lime and Strawberry... I chose the former.)

The interior was as beautiful as last time: Clean tables (no scratches) spotless windows (not easy, there's a lot of window space here) and just as stylish as ever. The cold weather obviously keeps people away, especially on a Saturday morning; but mark my words... When Spring comes, this joint is gonna be packed. Speaking of, I love the view of nearby (as in a block away) Nationals Park from my table.

Jarritos Mandarin

Service was swift (after all, it was just pancakes) but friendly and professional. It's a simple plate of food, but beautifully colored (like all of chef Antonio Burrell's dishes) and an exercise in joy for my taste buds. I can't wait to try and make these myself: They're light, with great texture (not necessarily fluffy, but thankfully chewier) and reminded me instantly of pumpkin. Ginger butter is a nice touch, and they could sell bottles of that chile maple syrup if they wanted to. In fact, I could go grocery shopping in their kitchen (if only they'd let me.)

Jarritos sodas rock, and my only complaint (one that's easily fixed) is that the menu doesn't have sides available (upsell, upsell!) If they did, I would have loved to have added some chorizo or ham for an added twist. As it is, the pancakes rule on their own. I suppose I'm just greedy, hungry or both. For what it's worth, I'm sure you could ask; but I'm all about making it easier.

Hungry is a good state to be in when you arrive at Agua 301. It remains my favorite Mexican restaurant in town; and I look forward to seeing what Burrell and his team come up with for the warm weather... Assuming I can find a seat. Fingers crossed.