Friday, February 28, 2014

Juniper Restaurant Breakfast Review

Round 1 of the Winter Breakfast Buffet

There's first class, and then there's first class. Juniper Restaurant at Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown is the latter, without equal in the DC breakfast wars. Not weekend brunch mind you (although I can't wait to try that too) but the oft-overlooked everyday breakfast.

Take one step inside its luxurious main dining room, and you soon realize there's nothing "everyday" about Juniper. This is old-school style at its most scrumptious. Make a reservation, and expect to be greeted by name by everyone that works here. An hour later, I felt like Donald Trump had traded places with me for the day (poor Donald.) Try feeling that at IHOP.

Perfection on a plate

Juniper offers an impressive a la carte menu; but it's a sin to bypass their Heavenly Winter Breakfast Buffet (the best $28 you'll ever spend.) Picture creamy cheeses, the freshest fruits, over a dozen assorted breads & muffins (each, meticulously wrapped) and the highest quality eggs (scrambled and Benedict) you'll find in one setting. Grilled tomatoes, a trio of fresh squeezed (no sugar added) juices and perfectly prepared breakfast meats round out this "feast for the ages." Best of all, not one item is below par: Each strip of bacon, slice of melon and spoonful of egg looks and tastes perfect. It's almost too good to be true.

Open-Faced Egg White Omelet

Service is sublime, from Outlets Manager Keith Siebenaler (who checks in on every table) to the finest server I've encountered in more than a decade... Ms. Hanh, a 12-year veteran who's as passionate about her employers as she is her customers, each of whom she spoils with an affection you'd expect to find from a lifelong friend or relative. Needless to say, I highly recommend that you ask for her, if she's available. You won't want for anything.

This includes navigating the buffet bar for you (although I must admit, I love choosing on impulse.) Ms. Hanh brought over two slices of bread, toasted with an impressive array of condiments, and a tall glass of carrot & ginger juice. After confirming that my links were chicken sausage, she instinctively asked if I'd prefer pork (not available at the table.) A few minutes later, she popped (rather glided) out of the kitchen with two pork links and a warning, "Careful, they're very hot." How fantastic.

Whole Grain Wheat Toast

Speaking of, let me double back to my first two plates from the buffet. Fresh fruits and a mini-croissant dazzled, along with a tall, narrow blueberry muffin (in what resembled Louis Vuitton wrapping) with lush, gooey blueberries. How do I go back to Starbucks tomorrow morning, and switch back to my usual oversized, unimpressive muffin?

A second trip (for proteins) took my meal into a new stratosphere of awesomeness, eclipsed only by the sight of a new cloth napkin and flatware when I returned to my table. This kind of "attention to detail" is what you'd expect to find at a Michelin-starred establishment, as opposed to a buffet breakfast. Sadly, wonderful service slipped my mind as I dove into an assortment of crispy bacon, juicy chicken sausage and roasted potatoes so good... only an Irishman could appreciate.

Even the condiments look gorgeous

Lucky for me, Ms. Hanh was back to suggest one final taste of indulgence... an open-faced egg white omelet with an assortment of greens and red/yellow pepper strips. Healthy never tasted so good. I wasn't full yet; and rejoiced as my new best friend tempted me with a list of goodies served daily for lunch. A part of me wanted to hide out here all day, taking turns being pampered and fed like a king. Alas, a busy day of telephone calls, writing and an evening magic show laid ahead of me, and I reluctantly bid adieu to one friendly new face after another. I wasn't even here an hour; yet I couldn't stand the thought of leaving. It must be love.

Pork sausage

The silver lining in all this, is my ability to return. Whether or not I can resist the temptation to do so on a regular basis remains to be seen. It's pricey compared to a smoothie at home, or my aforementioned muffin from "what's its name," but some things transcend price. Breakfast at Juniper is one of them.

Served daily, click here to see the full menu. Market Fresh Brunch is available on Sundays ($48) with bottomless mimosas and an even more impressive selection of delicacies (click here to see the full menu.) For reservations, call (202) 457-5020 or click here.