We Love Food: Brunch @ Circle Bistro

French Toast at Circle Bistro

Okay, okay, I know, I get it. I’m on a brunch kick. I promise next We Love Food, I’ll write about another meal, I’ll branch out, but really? LOOK AT THAT PHOTO, you can’t not love brunch. Om nom nom nom. That my friends, is the french toast with whipped marscapone from Circle Bistro.

Circle Bistro is located in the Circle Hotel, right off of Washington Circle in Foggy Bottom/West End. My friend Rachel and I headed there a few Sundays ago to partake in my current favorite meal. We walked in about 15-20 minutes early for our reservation (it’s all about the OpenTable points, my friends!), and the manager-type/host was curt and rude, only agreeing to seat us if we were willing to wait for a server to free up to take care of us. He huffed all the way to our table, and was brusque handing us our menus, basically taking it out on us that we were early.

I realize that early guests can be an inconvenience if you’re short on staff. I too have been a hostess at one of the busiest restaurants in Charlotte, and dealt with more than my fair share of difficult table assignments and situations, I get it. But this was easy, we were happy to settle in for a while, brunch is the most relaxed meal possible. But honestly – don’t promise me slow service from the get go, it’s a bad start, and doesn’t make me feel like you are willing to be accommodating. Especially when we were one of four total tables. Color me unimpressed.  I sat down, hoping the food would save the situation.

Circle Bistro

See, there? All empty tables.

But anyways, we sat down and did wind up waiting about 10 minutes to be greeted. Whatever, I was in good company, and I suppose we had been warned. I have to say, I was excited to try Circle Bistro, it has had (at least in it’s hayday) some foodie clout, and a few good chefs have come out of the place, so I was ready. We studied up on the menu, and I wound up going with the Salmon and Grits – something about grits spoke to me. Actually? Everything about grits speaks to me. But I was intrigued by the combination at brunch, I was in the mood for something healthier, but still breakfast-y-ish. Rachel went with the french toast that opened this post. After the shaky start, the server was fine (though slow for the entire meal) and we were served in a leisurely but not entirely inattentive manner.

Salmon and Grits at Circle Bistro

My salmon came, skin on, and crispy delicious. Well cooked, and flavorful, the combinations of the demi-glace worked nicely with the fish. The grits were large, sort of reminiscent of quinoa. I’d bet the farm they weren’t stone-ground, like they do them down in Carolina. They were creamy, but not the southern girl texture I’ve come to expect. I’m big on texture in my food, it is maybe the way you win or lose me in a dish.  This was okay, just not quite the Georgia Brown’s type quality I was hoping for. The spinach was nice, it’s hard to mess up spinach, but I always appreciate greens on the plate, and the orange demi-glace added a nice contrast to the creamy grits. I was satisfied, happy, just thrown off a little by the grits.

Rachel’s french toast was fantastic – fluffy, good amount of powdered sugar, and the marscapone was a bonus. Of course we ate a side of applewood bacon. Ya’ll know how much I like my bacon – and you know how crispified I want it. This was closer than Kramerbook’s, but still not top quality. I’ll let you know when I find my bacon mecca, don’t you worry. (I’m also happy to take suggestions or challenges. Let me know in the comments if you know where my bacon is hiding. Or think you can prepare me bacon that will satisfy my standards.)

circle bistro coffee

The coffee was good, brunch coffee is essential. The service staff was very attentive, always refilling our cups.  For the dicey service they dished out, it’s pretty expensive. My salmon was $18 and Rachel’s french toast was $10 with a $4 side of bacon. A bit on the pricey end of Brunch, I’d say, at least for the bacon. All in all? It was fine, some good parts, some mediocre. It wasn’t terrible, but I am obviously not raving like I usually am. I would go back, I just have a million other places to try (or return to) that will be on my list before Circle Bistro. I’d tell you to go if you’re in the area – but I wouldn’t have you make an entire morning trip out of it.

Circle Bistro is located at 1 Washington Circle NW. Closest Metro stop: Foggy Bottom/GWU (Blue and Orange lines). For more information, call (202) 293-5390.

Katie moved to DC in 2007, and has since embarked upon a love affair with the city. She’s an education reform advocate and communications professional during the day; at night and on the weekends, she’s an owner here at We Love DC. Katie has high goals to eat herself through the entire city, with only her running shoes to save her from herself. For up-to-the-minute news and reviews (among other musings), follow her on Twitter!

6 thoughts on “We Love Food: Brunch @ Circle Bistro

  1. I was all like “woah, theres a person in the coffee…”

    On a related note, the applewood smoked bacon at Georgia Brown’s on Sunday was amazing (and all-you-can-eat).

  2. You know, I’ve been early for my reservation many times (usually out of an abundance of caution to avoid being LATE), and I’ve never experienced anything worse than, “Your table is not quite ready yet; it’ll just be a few minutes.” It sounds like they purposely understaff, not expecting a huge brunch crowd at that time- it’s not hard to say, “Our staff isn’t quite ready to accommodate you,” and then offer you some coffee while you’re waiting for the server.

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