Last night, Mark managed to beat me in a friendly Texas Hold'em game at Calypso's house (we were the last two standing) and in order to cut the pouting to a bare minimum, subsequently promised to treat me and our out of town guest to brunch the next morning. We decided to go to Tabard Inn, a cozy bed & breakfast (and brunch, lunch, and dinner!) nestled on N Street between 17th and 18th Streets. While the food and the service weren't anything exceptional, it was a solid brunch for a decent price in an charming setting.
In order to avoid a longer than 15 minute wait (and plus, it was very windy), we decided to forgo eating outside in the beautiful brick-walled garden and were seated in the mostly vacant inside dining room. The decor is a lovely mix of antique and modern, and made me feel right at home.
We were immediately presented with a large bread basked containing a variety of breads, all of which were very tasty. My favorite was the corn muffin, which was nice and crumbly and slighty sweet.
Mark and I, being the food monsters we are, each started with an appetizer. Mark got the Burata cheese, pickled beets and baby beet greens, which came with sourdough toast and lemon oil. The Burata (a cheese made of mozzarella and cream) was creamy and flavorful, though not quite as good as the Burata we had at Dino the other night. It balanced well against the tangy pickled beets, though they were a little firmer than I typically like them. Mark seemed to like the dish, though.
I got the Ahi tuna crudo deviled egg, topped with wasabi tobiko (flying fish roe), mizuna, and Chinese mustard vinaigrette. I liked the presentation and in theory, the creativity of this dish. But taste-wise, the fishiness of the tuna was a tad overwhelming. And Mark noted he would have liked some textural contrast, some sort of crunchy element perhaps.
For her entree, my friend ordered the banana-cinnamon French toast, which was served with strawberry compote and whipped cream. She was a little surprised to note that they had baked the banana into the toast somehow, and that the texture was chewier than she was used to. However, she did say that with each bite, she liked the dish more. Mark had a bite or two, and he said that while he liked it, it was sweeter than he likes his French toast (he also said he probably wouldn't have been able to finish the whole thing himself, but I think that's a lie, just based on my Mark experience).
I ordered the frittata with roasted tomato, rapini, and mozzarella cheese, which came with a baby green salad. This was one dish that I could really get behind - the egg was fluffy and buttery, and the tomato and rapini were generously portioned and well-distributed, and gave the dish bright and fresh notes. The whole thing was well-seasoned and nicely presented - I enjoyed it a lot.
Mark got the Huevos Rancheros on house-made tortillas, with two salsas, refried black beans and avocado. Even before Mark started in on it, I noticed that it was a fairly unattractive dish of food, especially when compared with the other dishes we had received. After taking just one bite, Mark was less than enthused about his dish. I agreed. While not the worst thing either of us had ever eaten, it was just a really bland dish, both flavor and texture-wise.
After we had already finished with our meal and walked away from the restaurant, Twitter friends advised Mark that Tabard Inn serves some fantastic fried donuts with cinnamon and vanilla whipped cream. Unfortunately we didn't see them on the menu at the time we were ordering. It's too bad, because they sound amazing.
While not blown away by the food or the service (which lagged at times, but did not present any major problems), it was a solid enough for the price. And the quaint decor makes Tabard Inn a pretty pleasant place to spend a lazy brunch with some good company.