Category Archives: Bethesda

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Three Brunches, Three Sighs of Contentment

There’s no deep mystery behind the formula for a successful brunch. Basically, you want to offer a breakfast option, such as eggs, provide enough food to tide us over until dinner (it is breakfast and lunch after all), and serve everything up in a comfortable, casual environment.

These three restaurants fit the bill nicely.

Kafe Leopold

In Georgetown, you’ll find Kafe Leopold tucked away in a cozy space between M Street and Cadys Alley. If the weather’s warm enough, try to snag a table on the shaded, cobblestone patio with its bubbling fountain, because it’s quite atmospheric.

The inside’s sleek, bright and airy, with natural light streaming through the windows and all-white furniture that reminds me of IKEA.

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I got the eggs with grilled ham and toast.

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I’m blanking now on exactly what this is that my friend Melissa ordered. I know it’s vegetarian, and am pretty sure it’s an assortment of tea sandwiches with different types of cheese.

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A visit to Kafe Leopold is not complete without at least a gaze toward their dessert display case.  This pic does not do it justice.

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After each getting up to check out the offerings, Melissa and I named our top three options. We shared the dessert that was on both our lists, the Napoleon.

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Good lord.  Anything with puff pastry gets me, and this was a tour de force of flaky and crunchy. The vanilla cream and dabble of berries put it over the top. “Mmmmmmmm” was the general verdict.

L’Enfant Cafe

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A neighborhood spot on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. If they had TVs, this is where I’d come during the summer to nibble on a crepe and watch the Tour de France.

My three friends and I wandered in, hungry and perhaps slightly sleepy from a holiday party the night before.

I really like the brick walls and homey bar in the dining room. The diners were a nice cross section of neighborhood couples, groups and families. (With extremely well behaved small children who miraculously didn’t scream or shout. Thank you restaurant gods.)

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My frittata with seasonal vegetables, goat cheese and potatoes really hit the spot.

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And that fantastic bacon needs a special shout out. So meaty and well cooked. That’s how all bacon should be.

The Original Pancake House

As I walked up to the Bethesda restaurant yesterday to meet my friends, there was no sign of life from the outside. Great! I thought. There’ll be no wait. Everyone’s gone home for the holidays!

Um, no, it was packed. We entered and I was immediately pinballed around, bumping into people from all directions in the small waiting area. This place does boffo business.

Ended up being about a 15-minute wait, not bad at all considering there were six of us and it was the peak of brunch hour.

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As the name suggests, you probably want to order pancakes here.  They’ve got almost every variation you can think of. (Except for Johnny Cakes, the cornmeal pancakes that I will always associate with “The Sopranos.” RIP Vito Spatafore.)

The menu at The Original Pancake House hilariously lists the calorie counts for each item. My friend Matt says it’s a law in Montgomery County. My advice: Don’t look at the calorie count. You don’t want to know.

Didn’t matter much to us anyway; this was a fit group of people. Fay and Randy ran eight and ten miles respectively to the restaurant, for God’s sake.  I think they earned the right to pig out on whatever they wanted.

I chose “The Works”: two eggs, bacon, hash browns, and three pancakes. Here are the blueberry pancakes.

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Near the end of the meal, Matt said, “You’ve got to take a before and after picture!”

Before:

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And after:

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There you have it. Three spots that will all leave you yearning for a pleasant food coma nap. Can’t go wrong with any of them.

Happy brunching!

Kafe Leopold
3315 M Street, NW
Washington, DC
202-965-6005

L’Enfant Cafe
2000 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC
202-319-1800

The Original Pancake House
7703 Woodmont Ave.
Bethesda, MD
301-986-0285

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Don’t Forget About Indian: Passage to India

Where does Indian cuisine currently rank on the ethnic food popularity scale?  10-15 years ago, wasn’t Indian food hotter than it is today? And I don’t mean spicier. For whatever reason, has Indian been supplanted by more “trendy” ethnic cuisines like Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Thai and Japanese?

I’m as guilty as anyone of looking past Indian. It’s been ages since I’ve gone out for it. I guess I just forgot. So when my friend Melissa suggested Passage to India while we were driving to Bethesda last weekend, it was like a light bulb went off in my head: Ohh yeaah, Indian! I love Indian! Great idea!

Passage to India reminded me of what I enjoy so much about the food: the complex flavors, exciting chutneys, delicate Basmati rice, and of course, naan.

We went “belt buckle” on this meal; yup, the buckle required loosening after dinner.

This was an assortment of vegetable fritters, which we dipped into three different chutneys.

A first for both of us — not the samosas themselves, which we’ve all had before, but samosas prepared with a yogurt sauce and served over pillowy chickpeas.

That was damn good. I could have eaten just the samosas and naan and been set for the night.

Ahh, garlic naan.

Melissa’s saag paneer was creamy, intensely spinach-y and practically begged to be scooped into with a big hunk of naan.

My dish was also green — fish moilee curry.

Delicate white fish swimming in a curry of herbs. Just a kaleidoscope of mellow flavors.

We shuffled out of the restaurant with smiles on our faces and fully engorged bellies. “I’d definitely go here again!” we both agreed.

Indian food…long time no see.  It’s about time we were reacquainted.

Passage to India
4931 Cordell Ave.
Bethesda, MD
301-656-3373