Friday, June 13, 2014

Cafe Deluxe Breakfast Review

Deluxe Breakfast

DC's West End is home to some of the best breakfast & brunch options in town; so it makes sense that Cafe Deluxe would toss its chef's hat into the ring. The newest (and fifth overall) Cafe Deluxe occupies the lower level of the new Hilton Garden Inn and seats just over 200, with room for 40 more outside later this summer. That's a major commitment in a high-rent district... Expectations are high, and I'm excited to see how they stack up. Let's start with breakfast.

Cafe Deluxe offers an expanded brunch menu Monday through Friday from 6:30 - 11:00 AM, leaving more than enough time for early birds and late risers alike. Kudos for incredibly low prices also... A Deluxe Breakfast sets you back less than 10 bucks and an order of 10 gorgeous Beignets costs only $6.95. What's a man to do? Order both, I suppose.


I stopped by around 10:00 AM, and received an enthusiastic greeting from Cafe Deluxe's perky hostess. I asked for a quiet table, and was given a corner spot in the front of house. The dining area is both spacious and impressive, with floor to ceiling windows that provide a sprawling view of 22nd and M Streets, NW. You won't find better natural light for miles around. Chairs are comfortable, and tables covered with white cloth under paper tops. Those paper tops make quite a bit of noise when changed, part of a seemingly endless state of housekeeping that tends to get distracting. Noise levels were comfortable, considering the time of day; although staff voices carried, giving you an idea of what a full house must sound like.

My server Stacey arrived almost immediately with a glass of water and a friendly hello. That's when I decided to place an order for the aforementioned Beignets and Deluxe Breakfast. Ordering is a breeze, thanks to an easy to understand one page menu; and as I said before, very reasonably priced. About 10 minutes later, my beignets arrived... all 10 of 'em, as opposed to the five or six I expected for the price. Nice & hot with plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg and powdered sugar, they practically melted in my mouth. The only negative? They were paired with honey butter instead of a more traditional fruit jam or jelly. Would you put butter (even honey flavored) on a doughnut? Neither would I. A dab of sweet jam would have propelled this dish into "OMG territory." As is, it's still pretty amazing.

Buttermilk Biscuit

Don't ask how; but I managed to finish nine of the 10 beignets, before Stacey arrived with my Deluxe Breakfast. Timing is everything, and I would have loved an extra minute or two; but it did allow a tiny bit more room for my entrée. Said entrée was a colorful plate of food, featuring perfectly cooked, canary yellow scrambled eggs, crispy diced potatoes with onions & red peppers and two sadly undercooked, fatty slices of bacon. Remember when applewood smoked bacon was something special? Not here.

Both my eggs and potatoes disappeared quickly (score!) allowing me to turn my attention to Cafe Deluxe's biscuit, served with butter and jelly. I had high hopes, especially since it's served on its own plate; but mine was ho-hum, almost cold and far from crumbly. Serving it with unsalted butter is another no-no... Butter needs salt, especially with a relatively flavorless biscuit. You may as well offer toast instead: It's probably cheaper, and harder to muck up. On the other hand, poor quality bacon is a much bigger problem; but it's easily fixed with more careful examination at the pass. You can't serve meat like that anywhere, especially at Cafe Deluxe.

Overall, color me impressed with the service, value and most of the food. The beignets are amazing (ask for jelly on the side) and Sully's Coffee Cake sounds like another inexpensive delight at only $9.95. I've had many good meals at Cafe Deluxe's Bethesda & Cleveland Park locations; and West End has the potential to surpass both of them. I'll be back to test lunch service... You absolutely have to try their Meatloaf entrée, and Lamb Sandwich, relative bargains at $14.95 and $12.95 respectively. Let the countdown begin.