Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Blackwall Hitch Brunch Review

Made-to-Order Omelette, Bacon, Country Sausage & Breakfast Potatoes

It takes something special to rouse me out of bed on an ice cold Sunday morning. Krispy Kreme doughnuts? Fat chance. Sausage McGriddles? Try again. How about Sunday Brunch at Blackwall Hitch in Old Town Alexandria? Now we're talking. Piping hot Maryland Crab Soup? Endless Peel & Eat Shrimp? Who wouldn't hop on two trains and a (free) trolley to get some of that?

11 miles is nothing to sneeze at, but I'd travel twice that distance to enjoy Executive Chef Mente Lawson's lovingly prepared Sunday Brunch buffet ($34.99.) For starters, it's not like other buffets, with a little of this and a little of that. Chef Mente & his team want to feed you, and feed you well. That means Maryland Crab Soup to start... Hot and zesty, with tasty bits of sweet claw crab meat and an assortment of tender veggies (carrots, corn, green beans & peas.) It's not the least bit salty, and each & every spoonful tastes of crab.

Maryland Crab Soup

Now that I was (almost) warm again, I decided to assemble a plate of breakfast basics (Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Country Sausage, Homestyle Breakfast Potatoes) and a made-to-order Omelette. The omelette station maestro was happy to see me, and eagerly got to work on a relatively simple order of eggs with chopped onions, red peppers and tomatoes. For the record, you can toss in crab meat, shrimp, bacon, sausage and a dozen other goodies, if you're so inclined. My omelette was cooked (and folded) to perfection, and there were two kinds of bacon (well done and regular.) It's not often that you find both (without asking) and the sausage was surprisingly spicy and delicious. Even the potatoes were hot & tender, which meant a quick return trip for seconds. Sure there's more exotic items to choose from (oysters, salmon, etc.) but you can't have a good brunch without good bacon & eggs.

Fried Chicken & Belgian Waffles

Next up, crispy Fried Chicken & Belgian Waffles. Once again, I received a warm greeting from the station attendant. No small feat, given that everything was already prepared, and most people tend to "zone out" when they're not actively doing something. I paired my waffles with strawberry sauce in place of syrup, and couldn't have been happier. As for the chicken... moist, moist, moist. Always get dark meat (legs & thighs) if you want to avoid a dry bird. Kudos also, for just the right amount of spice on the skin.

Top Round Roast (with Au Jus) Focaccia & Penne Pasta

Blackwall Hitch also sports a carving station with Top Round Roast (and rosemary au jus) and Roasted Pork Loin (with a mustard glaze on top.) The former was sensational (especially the au jus) but I did take issue with a cold, difficult-to-swallow piece of focaccia bread (the lone blip on an otherwise mistake-free brunch.) Chef Mente's Pasta of the Day was Penne with pesto, served warm and filled with flavor. Had I more time (and a bigger appetite) I would have feasted on seconds and thirds of the roast.


Speaking of appetites, save room for dessert. There's full-sized doughnuts and pastries galore, but you're better off going for the quartet (or in my humble case, trio) of mini desserts. Tops amongst them, the lemon/strawberry combo topped with whipped cream. Heaven in a micro cup.

Good food is one thing, but Blackwall Hitch doesn't stop there. The atmosphere here is quite special. It gets crowded, but one never feels overwhelmed. Credit proper spacing between tables, an energetic wait staff and numerous cozy nooks and crannies throughout the ample dining area. Sunday Brunch sports live jazz music, and make sure to ask for Kristin, quite possibly the nicest, most efficient server in Virginia (and that's taking into account the fact that she's a Dallas Cowboys fan!) Of course, it's even nicer in warm weather, but worth a visit any time of year... even on ice cold Sunday mornings.