Brunch Is Back at The Pembroke in Dupont
The Dupont Circle Hotel’s The Pembroke restaurant, 1500 New Hampshire Ave. NW, reopened for weekend brunch on May 15 after closing before Christmas because of the pandemic. The entire hotel recently underwent a multi-million renovation. The airy restaurant and neighboring Doyle Bar were designed by Martin Brudnizki with a focus on bold colors and varying textures.
The Pembroke – formerly Café Dupont – is light-filled with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Dupont Circle with live plants adding a touch of outdoors. The dining room with mid-century modern furniture features velvet coral banquettes, marble tables and blue leather chairs that are perfect to linger over brunch with friends as the DMV begins to emerge from its pandemic quarantine. For people still wishing to dine al fresco, there is a terrace along 19th Street Northwest.
To begin reopening after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser dropped all pandemic restrictions on restaurants — including mask and social distance requirements — beginning May 21, The Pembroke is focusing exclusively on brunch from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, with lunch and dinner service to resume in the next month or so.
To celebrate the return of brunch, the restaurant is offering build-your-own mimosas with Taittinger La Francaise Brut Champagne and fresh orange, strawberry or mango juice ($75) as well as bloody Mary for the table (serves four) with Ketel One vodka ($60). Other cocktails include the Peaches & Cream made with Kettle One Peach, strawberry shrub, maraschino and egg white; The Pembroke Mimosa with vodka, St. Germain, orange juice and sparkling wine; and a classic Bellini. New offerings include a barrel-aged Manhattan and a barrel-aged negroni. Cocktails range from $12-$22.
Newly appointed executive chef Taylor Burlingame, formerly of Requin at the Wharf and Navy Yard’s Dacha, serves an eclectic menu from classics like an egg white frittata with goat cheese, spinach and tomatoes or corned beef hash with roasted potatoes, bell peppers and a sunny side up egg and pancakes with mixed berries to favorites like house-made falafel with pea hummus, pickled onions, cucumber tzatziki and zaatar pita and pork belly steam buns with hoisin sauce, pickled onions and cucumbers.
On a recent visit, the avocado toast ($14) on grilled country bread with tomato confit, radish, fennel, red onion, lime and cilantro was a perfect start paired with mimosas. It wasn’t too heavy and the cilantro and lime added brightness to the creamy avocado.
For an entrée, the Chesapeake Benedict ($26) with poached eggs on top of two crab cakes covered in hollandaise was the perfect choice to welcome back brunch. The eggs were cooked perfectly and the crab cakes full of crab while the sauce didn’t overpower the other ingredients. A side of home fries or hash browns would have completed the meal, but they aren’t on the menu. Another solid brunch option is the steak & eggs ($32) with an 8-ounce skirt steak, two eggs your way and garlic butter with a petite green salad and frites. A good option for kids is the house-made pancakes ($14) with mixed berries, whipped mascarpone and powdered sugar. You have the option to add bacon or sausage ($3 each). They were a bit sweet for my taste, but definitely the most kid-friendly item.
Sides include eggs, toast, smoked salmon, Applewood bacon, Virginia ham, turkey bacon, turkey or pork sausage, French fries, salad, mixed fruit and fresh berries. The one glaring omission was the lack of home fries or hash browns, although there is a potato rosti. Entrees range from $10-$32 and sides from $3-$9.