Tapas Brunch Shines at 14K Restaurant
Sunday brunch is an institution in the DMV. Almost every restaurant serves it – some better than others. Some restaurants offer all-you-can eat brunch, while others offer bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys.
But Nezzaar Battle, the new executive chef at the 14K Restaurant and Lounge in the Hamilton Crown Plaza hotel, 1001 14th St. NW, launched a new “tapas style” a la carte Sunday brunch earlier this month.
“I am well-aware of the popularity of Sunday brunch in the D.C. Metro area,” said Battle. “We will be providing our guests more of what they love in that regard, with a fresh spin and some delicious new flavors.”
But don’t expect Spanish tapas from Battle, who came to the restaurant from the Kessler Collection Bohemian Celebration Hotel near Orlando, Fla. Prior to his tenure there, he oversaw kitchen operations at the 4-Diamond Squaw Creek Resort in Lake Tahoe, as well as at Silver Tree Hotel in Aspen, Colo. His new Sunday brunch menu has a distinctively Southern taste with dishes like shrimp and grits with stone-ground white grits, Cajun fried shrimp, andouille sausage, smoked tomato butter emulsion and scallions.
“The D.C. area has a well-established love for brunch,” Battle said. “We are honoring that by offering plenty of timeless favorites, but are also introducing new bold tastes. I’ve been taking a look at what our guests have always responded to, and putting a bit of a twist on the traditional. I’m always on the lookout for ingredients that are fresh, local and seasonal, and tend to find quite a bit of inspiration in the new flavor combinations they present.”
On a recent visit, a guest and I sampled the new brunch dishes, and there wasn’t one item that we tried that I wouldn’t order again. The small plates are reasonably priced, ranging from $5 to $10 each. Add to that a $9 build-your-own Bloody Mary bar with garnishes including, vodka, fresh and pickled vegetables, herbs, meats, juices, seasonings and spices, sauces, cheeses, seafood and stuffed olives or a $15 endless champagne bar that includes 14 different kinds of mimosas, bellinis and other champagne-based drinks.
The new brunch menu includes soups, salads, benedicts, specialty eggs, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast specialties and desserts.
We both started with the blue crab bisque that was full of lump crab meat and topped with basil oil. My only complaint was that I wanted more, but I knew we had more plates to come. This is one dish you won’t want to share, so everyone should order their own.
I followed with the short rib benedict with red wine-braised short rib, spinach, crimini mushrooms, onions, grilled asparagus tips, Roma tomato, chives and shoestring potatoes topped with a perfectly poached egg and roasted red pepper hollandaise. My guest, being from South Carolina, chose the Southern fried green tomato and crab-infused Napoleon with jumbo lump blue crab aioli, a sunny side egg, Old Bay-infused arugula and cherry balsamic glaze. When you pierce the yolk and the runny egg covers both dishes, your mouth is happy.
We also tried the Crab, Crab, Crab with a Maryland-style lump blue crab cake topped with Old Bay-infused crab aioli, roasted corn and tomato, burnt lemon, grapefruit segments and shallot cream sauce. A red velvet waffle gave the chicken and waffles with Southern fried chicken and bourbon pecan glaze an added flavor profile.
Battle’s pickled Fresno pork belly sandwich with braised pork belly, lettuce, tomato, pickled Fresno peppers, garlic and herb aioli on Texas toast had a tasty kick, while the all-American biscuit with Applewood smoked bacon, fried egg and white cheddar cheese, on a buttery biscuit covered in sausage gravy had the taste of breakfast rolled in each bite.
Make sure to pace yourself and save room for dessert. You don’t want to miss the skillet cookie made with buttery cookie dough, white chocolate, pretzel pieces, sea salt and toffee served warm in a mini cast-iron skillet topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel. The snowcap brownie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce was also good, but I’ll be ordering the skillet cookie every chance I get.
Battle is planning changes to the lunch and dinner menus as well. I got a peak at the dinner menu and am looking forward to trying the jumbo lump blue crab dip with lambs skin potato chips, peppers, onions and chives, and the lobster ravioli with baby spinach, dried tomatoes, clam juice, chives, Meyer lemon juice, red chili flakes and lobster rose sauce.
Head down to 14th and K Streets NW this Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and get your brunch on at 14K Restaurant and Lounge.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.