Meb Byrne

Tabard Inn

In brunch, dc, recommended, restaurant on August 5, 2009 at 1:18 pm

The Tabard Inn, located in the heart of DC’s posh Dupont Circle, is a cozy hearkening back to the colonial era. The exterior is unassumingly pretty and wreathed in flowers. Inside, the dark, wood-paneled lounge exudes a quiet, rustic elegance, with mismatched paintings of early US presidents and carvings of eagles. Shaded lamps and wall lights cocked at odd angles exude soft lighting; squashy sofas and armchairs abound.

The restaurant of the Tabard Inn is scattered throughout several cheery rooms, with an open courtyard tucked in the back. A sheer multicolored awning drapes over the patio, where you can lounge away a Sunday morning with drinks and dining partners. Brunch, the restaurant’s most popular meal of the week, is heralded by a bread basket, proportioned to the size of your party, and piled high with savory muffins, olive bread, and a light and airy focaccia that’s packed with veggies.

The Tabard Inn features clean, fresh ingredients that hold their own shape and flavor, giving each dish surprising taste and texture combinations. The savory tart, a stand-out, is a birthday-cake sized slice of pastry, striated into delicate layers of crab, corn, asparagus and onions. The tart falls apart beautifully as you cut into it. The traditional Eggs Benedict are, mercifully, not too liberal with the Hollandaise, allowing the creamy flavor to just play on your taste buds. For heartier fare, the omelet with Hens of the Forest mushrooms and Brie has a precocious bitter bite, and is served with chunks of hash browns and a flaky biscuit.

For those with a sweet tooth, the vanilla brioche French toast is a scrumptious choose-your-own-adventure. Topped with peach-berry compote, and served with pots of clotted cream and intensely flavorful maple syrup on the side, the dish beckons with many possible taste combinations.

With the liberal brunch portions, you won’t need dessert, but the menu is quite tempting. Our server recommended the coconut carrot cake as one of the best desserts on the menu. Artfully presented, the cake matches the coconut and carrot flavors together well. The icing is good but not great, and the accompanying white chocolate macadamia nut ice cream, served in an inventive pastry crust, is overkill. The cake would be better paired with a simple French vanilla, or for a zingy surprise, a raspberry or lemon sorbet.The Saturday and Sunday brunch menu choices rotate regularly, but the menu always maintains a few staples. Dress is casual but classy. Reservations, at least a week in advance, are strongly recommended, though if you get your name on the waiting list right when the restaurant opens, your wait shouldn’t be obscene.

Recommended.

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