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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vinoteca, Part Deux

The Setup

Having literally stepped off a plane after 28 straight hours of travel just an hour prior, Official Girlfriend of DCWD Texas resuscitated me the only way she knew how: brunch. On this trip, we headed back to an old standby, Vinoteca.

The Vibe

Usually we avoid re-describing the vibe in these Parts Deux, but this is a different case; this was my first trip into the fabled bocce court. The space is small, just a handful seats at an outdoor bar, and two group bench tables; we ended up eating on some bar stools using the railing around the bocce pit. That being said, the back porch is cute, a rustic Italian countryside set-up that must be real nice on dates (if the whole thing isn't out-of-hand crowded, that is).

The Food

For me, there are three small pleasures at brunch: Irish coffee; cheesy grits; and someone else making an egg dish for me at odd times of the day. This meal prominently featured all three. On the first two parts, the Irish coffee was some of the best I've had (oddly enough, it's easy to mess this up... it's called too much Jameson at the expense of Bailey's), and the cheddar grits were fine (which is to say traditional, and not overwhelmingly buttery or cheesy, much to my chagrin).

Texas and I split two dishes: first, two poached eggs on gruyere toast with hollandaise, with a side frisée salad with pulled pork. Poached egg + frisee salad is a pretty regular combination, and this could have easily fallen into a safe category. But the gruyere toast was superlative, a nice flavor addition to the traditional eggs Benedict. Even sans meat, I found myself enjoying the sharp taste and wonderful crunch of the bread.

The second dish was basically a reordered version of the first: a pulled pork sandwich with two fried eggs, goat cheese, and caramelized onions. If the pulled pork got lost in the shuffle on the first dish, it didn't here. Seasoned well, it was mild enough to not overshadow the other ingredients, but still provided enough flavor to pack a punch. If anything, I wished there was more goat cheese on the sandwich, but it's a small quibble.

The Verdict

A brunch that brings dishes as good as the highs of the dinner service, without any of the missteps.

Food Rating: *** 1/2
(out of 5)

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