Monday, February 3, 2014

Open City Breakfast Review

Open City Royale

I've always been especially fond of diners and greasy spoons... The type of joints where you can order eggs & waffles all-day long, and nobody bats an eye. You know: Places like Waffle House and Denny's (on a good or bad day.) Nowadays however, you can call yourself a diner... so long as you serve similar food. Whatever happened to standards? Whatever happened to all those nice ladies with blue hair? 

Open City is one-third of a so-called DC Diner triangle (Tryst, the Coupe.) They open early, and close late (the Coupe is open 24/7.) They also serve breakfast all-day, in addition to an assortment of upscale dishes you'd never find on a Waffle House menu. I've been to all three; but they just don't feel right. They resemble restaurants, not diners... and the clientele there, wouldn't be caught dead in Denny's.

That said, breakfast for dinner is the ultimate treat; and not many places offer it. Open City does, so I strolled in just after 7:00 (it was already full in the main dining room... onward to the less-splashy extension.) A pretty hostess (go ahead, call me sexist... I'll own it) sat me at a table for two, and brought me a glass of water. A couple of minutes later, my server came by & introduced herself (Michelle) and took an order for an Open City Royale (the menu describes it as "Can't decide? Try it all!)

The OC Royale is one of the few items that's cheaper in-house ($12.50) than its' listing on the company's website ($12.95.) Before you raise an eyebrow, keep in mind that you get a boat load of food for this particular dish. How much is a boat load? Try two eggs (scrambled) two sausage links, hash browns, an English Muffin and four slices of French Toast with syrup. All of a sudden, $12.50 sounds like a bargain.

One of the drawbacks to a full house is a perceived banishment to the add-on room. The main dining area is bright, bustling and hip. The add-on room closer resembles a place one goes to die. Sorry, but once the lights dimmed, all I could notice was the constant wobble of my table (can't you level it out with gum or something?) I guess it wouldn't be so bad, if the other room wasn't so much nicer. My advice? Hold out for a table in the main hall... It's worth the wait.

My food didn't take long to arrive, and it looked pretty good. The eggs were bright yellow, and cooked perfectly. French Toast came with powdered sugar on top, and screamed, "Eat me!" My sausage links were butterflied (strange) and the hash brown "thing" appeared burned. The English Muffin was toasted, but just barely. Crispy and toasty definitely looks better.

Taste-wise, my expectations were low: For the most part, Open City lived up/down to them. The eggs desperately needed salt & pepper; but at least they were hot. My sausage links were on the small side, and a tad overdone. That said, they still tasted OK. My English Muffin? Cold and under-toasted. Better with whipped butter... but it needed another minute or two in the toaster, even more. The hash brown patty was in a word... gross. You could just as easily substitute "awful" or "ruined" for gross, without doing it any injustice. To call it inedible, would be too kind.

Guess what though? The French Toast was downright awesome. I saved it for last, but it was still warm to the touch (even after a healthy dousing of syrup.) Hands down, the best part of my meal... and worth coming back for.

Service was OK. Michelle seemed shy, and took a while to get my check (and process it.) She didn't say good-bye or acknowledge my thanks. Ditto for the hostess, who ignored my good-bye (serves me right for calling her pretty.) I've been here at least half-a-dozen times, and my best experience was a take-out order for apple strudel. Hardly a ringing endorsement. I think I'll stick to Waffle House.