Monday, February 2, 2015

Medium Rare (Cleveland Park) Brunch Review

Egg Frites & Sausage

One of the best parts about living in Cleveland Park is its close proximity to a vast number of wonderful restaurants. Tops amongst them, Medium Rare is the type of place you'd like to visit twice (or thrice) a week. Sadly, my schedule doesn't allow such luxury; so I treat each visit to Cleveland Park's best restaurant as something very special. Yesterday's brunch was no exception: In fact, it may have been my best meal there.

It began with a short one-block stroll on Super Bowl Sunday. My Medium Rare serves brunch on Sundays only, from 11:00 AM until 2:30. Ditto for their Barracks Row location, although they open at 10 on Sunday, and offer brunch on Saturdays too (starting at 11.) I announced my reservation to a cheerful hostess, who quickly guided me to the main dining area in the back (away from the pass and a cozy bar towards the front.) There are plenty of tables with just enough room between them to guarantee sufficient privacy; although the overall atmosphere leans closer to boisterous and fun. Music (Backstreet Boys, The Knack) is varied and a tad louder than other places. For Sunday brunch, it's perfect.

Oven-Hot Rustic Bread 

Within moments, I was greeted by my server Daniel, a tall young man with a broad smile and lots of energy. He promised bread right away (warm, delicious bread with a heaping mound of butter) and filled me in on Medium Rare's simple yet mouth-watering brunch menu. Unlike lunch and dinner, there are choices to be had. I settled on Egg Frites & Sausage (three eggs scrambled with MR's famous fries & a thick link of Logan's sausage.) Brunch costs a flat fee of $23, and includes bottomless bloody mary's, mimosas, screwdrivers, coffee and fresh orange juice. It also includes your choice of vanilla yogurt parfait, farm fresh fruit salad or MR's mixed green salad: I settled on the former.

Vanilla Yogurt Parfait

This isn't your parent's parfait: Picture creamy vanilla yogurt, covered in a decadent strawberry syrup with thick, crunchy pieces of granola. How good is it? I stopped by Trader Joe's earlier this evening to pick up some granola... in the hopes (dreams) of replicating what I had yesterday. Wish me luck.

The bread is some of the best in town, and is used for MR's French Toast as well (more on that later.) Daniel was quick to notice how fast I devoured mine, and brought me another plate seconds later. Way to go Daniel! They ought to seriously consider selling it by the loaf (guess who's gonna be their first customer?)

French Toast

Already close to capacity, I'd yet to dive into my main entree. I think we covered MR's fries extensively in last November's review; but suffice it to say, they're a-mazing. Logan's sausage has great texture, and arrives expertly prepared with just the right amount of heat. As for the eggs... words can't describe how good they are. Velvety soft, lightly seasoned and golden yellow in color, you could call them sublime and still not raise an eyebrow. My only regret? Three eggs instead of six; and yes, I'm greedy (sue me.) Speaking of greed, I couldn't help but ask for a side of French Toast... just to see what was doing.

Since I already used the word sublime to describe the eggs, let's try superb to describe the toast... light and fluffy on the inside, sandwiched between two thin layers of crusty bread. A+ for texture. A- for flavor. Details? Tasty blueberries on the side, along with a strawberry sliced in thirds. Nice syrup too, and more than enough for two slices (most places stiff you with less.)

Fresh (really fresh) Orange Juice

The juice is so fresh, I swore I was back in California, where I used to pick oranges right off the tree. Did I mention free refills? Best of all, I was surrounded by a room full of happy faces. Seriously, everyone looks and sounds happy... not exactly a common sight in the nation's capital, even on a Sunday morning. The restaurant fills up quickly, and gets a little loud (the only negative I can think of) but plan ahead and make a reservation... especially if the weather's nice (or not nice, Medium Rare is always packed.)

Service is attentive, polite and sincere. No need to hover; but the staff seems to know what you need/are thinking of, before you do. Food arrives quickly, and I've yet to send anything back in years of coming here. The music's great (Dave Matthews Band's "Crash into Me" was playing as I departed) and everyone says goodbye. What's not to love adore?