Thursday, September 11, 2014

District Line Restaurant Breakfast Review

Breakfast Buffet - Plate 1

Not all breakfast buffets are created equal; and the Washington Hilton's District Line Restaurant certainly has room for improvement (namely, the food.) That said, there are things to like (friendly service, the grand dining area) but is it enough to earn a recommendation from this picky critic?

I grew up near the Hilton, and appreciate its storied history (President Reagan's assassination attempt notwithstanding.) I've eaten there before, and even worked a convention or two. Surely, their breakfast buffet was up to par: I trekked over to the District Line on a Wednesday morning to find out.

Breakfast Buffet - Plate 2

Hiccup #1 occurred when the hostess ignored my reservation (via OpenTable) and sat me at any table. What about loyalty points, special requests, etc.? Why make a reservation in the first place? Lucky for me, I was dining alone; and I was given my choice of seats (near the food, of course!) My server, Genet was super-friendly and gave me a quick Buffet 101 course (eat & drink to your heart's content for $23.95.) Needless to say, I knew what to do from there.

Before moving into the buffet area, I took a minute or two to soak in District Line's large dining room. It's a tad dated; but gets plenty of natural light, and feels impressive. The clientele (remember, it's summer) were mostly families with (shudder) children; so don't expect to be intimidated by well-dressed politicians and captains of industry. Dress casually. The food was plentiful, and well organized; with a cook at the ready for Belgian waffles, eggs to order, etc. If you're hungry (and not too worried about flavor) you're in for a real treat. Me? I prefer quality over quantity, so...

Made-to-Order Eggs and Bacon

With this much food, I'll be brief. Plate #1 featured cold French Toast with zero flavor (where's the cinnamon?) crisp, but fatty bacon and tender but bland potatoes. Toss in two, far-from-fresh strawberries, and we were off to a rocky start. On the plus side, they had individual packs of Smucker's Sugar Free Syrup... a nice surprise.

On to plate #2, which included almost ice-cold pancakes, some more potatoes and well-cooked pork sausage which had a decidedly greasy aftertaste. Greasy, but good at the moment: What can I say? I like pork sausage. Unfortunately, the turkey sausage patty was plain awful... easily, the oddest and worst taste of the entire meal. After that, I decided to try some more bacon (much better this time... less fat, more meat) and made-to-order eggs (scrambled and plain.) Definitely, the best plate so far.

Toast & Butter

In between, Genet brought me a tall glass of fresh orange juice (no extra charge) yet plates took forever to clear. Ditto for a syrup-covered knife, which had to last the full run of my meal. A myriad of juices was available inside the buffet area, along with a tasty (almost scrumptious) Mango Shooter, which provided the best individual taste of my breakfast. No unnecessary sweetness = very refreshing.

There's no shortage of breads and muffins either; although I forgot to take photos of each (except for plain toast.) Keep an eye out for District Line's revolving toaster, which turns cold croissants into tasty, delicate works of art. Nondescript white sandwich bread comes with little balls of butter (a nice touch) and don't miss the Cranberry-Orange muffins, which are smartly-wrapped, light and fluffy.

Mango Shooter

It's hard to shake the ho-hum factor from your fellow diners, especially when you're less than five feet away from a guy, his kid and father-in-law... whose idea of stimulating conversation, revolves around 15 minutes of non-stop diabetes chatter. Who wants to chow down on bacon amidst talk of blood sugar levels and syringes? Yuck.

Was I blown away by District Line? No, hardly. $32 including a $5.65 tip is kinda steep for low-end quality; although there's no shortage of food and drink, so kudos for value. I suppose it all depends on what you're looking for. I might try it again (Who knows? Maybe it was just an off-day) given that certain soft spot in my heart, I seem to have for the hotel (not to mention its relative close proximity to where I live.) Better yet, how 'bout lunch?

Click here to see the full breakfast menu.