Sunday brunch outings are an actual event for me. I take it very serious and I am very discerning about everything when it comes to planning an outing: the atmosphere, the menu, my outfit, whether or not there are bottomless beverages involved…you know, the important things. I do not remember when this love affair with all things Benedict’s and mimosas began specifically, but I know I am not alone. D.C. is a brunch town and restaurants know this so they cater to us, the die hard fans of it. One such establishment has taken their brunch concept to new heights…lets talk about Catch 22.
Co-Owned by Chef Sammy Davis (winner of Food Network’s Chopped) and Monique Rose Simms (brand & business manager ),Catch 22 opened its doors at 5832 Georgia Avenue NW in November 2018. This duo is also responsible for the widely popular Milk & Honey Cafe.
I happen to have had an amazing experience at Milk & Honey so I was quite eager to try the offerings at the new locale. My friends informed me that during their first visit in February, there was a bit of confusion when it came to being seated. They attempted to remedy that by requesting the ability to make reservations, which were in fact accommodated. Reservations for noon seemed like a great idea until you factor in good ol’ Daylight Savings time which I referenced in my Instagram post.
Apparently, Catch 22 is most stringent with their requirements of patrons as we were inundated with a barrage of possible penalties upon entry. The host informed us that though one person was but five minutes away (per instant messenger and Uber up to the minute timer) that we could not be seated until all were present and accounted for…after being told there was only a fifteen minute grace period…and being directed to the taped piece of paper that says we only get 90 minutes to eat…and there were other things that occurred but you get the idea. Not the best first impression but we press on.
Once we were seated we thankfully had a very pleasant young lady as our server. She was cheerful, attentive and patient – complete opposite of the host – which made my tension subside a bit. As is customary when I visit a restaurant for the first time, I like to order something they are known for and a variety of items to try. The fried crab legs are the claim to fame so I went with it.
We also had:
- vanilla & brandy brioche
- cheesecake waffle w/fried lobster
- truffle chips
- creole seafood & grits
- side of bacon
- grand bellini
- mango mimosa (bottomless optional but not selected)
The food arrived…all except my waffle and lobster and the sides of bacon. All I kept thinking about was the 90 minute clock above our heads ticking away rapidly. I glance at the time and realize that we now only have thirty minutes left in which to consume this massive amount of food. As if she read my mind, a manager comes over to greet the table and check on our experience. We inform her that everything is good thus far but that we did not have all of our food. It was at this point that I asked about the 90 minute cut off and was told that it is in fact a policy that starts as soon as you are seated. I reminded her that we still did not have all of our food and was told that she would check on it. By some Daylight Savings miracle she comes back to let us know that we are ok because we have only been seated for 37 minutes (don’t ask cause I don’t know). Another instance of great customer service that took the focus off what we experienced with the host. We drank to that!
The good: I thought the bellinis were amazing; light and fruity and enough kick to make you forget they aren’t bottomless. One odd observation: every time we ordered another (don’t judge us) they arrived in a different type of glass… The truffle chips were a surprise hit! We demolished them and I would actually recommend them if you decide to visit. The bacon was also a star of the table. See a pattern here? These are not the main players of the menu.
I would not say that the food is bad, because it really isn’t. It’s just that for a seafood forward offering, I expect to be able to taste seafood. Instead, to me, the flavors were masked by the “fried” aspect that seems to permeate the menu. In my opinion, the fried crab legs are a novelty that you should try but just to say you did. Essentially you are just picking the fried bits (tasty fried bits) off the shell. We could not determine if the flavor of the crab meat was seasoned or if it was just the absence of Old Bay, as someone who is in the minority with their feelings about Old Bay (I dont need it) on seafood, I was completely fine with it not being present. The fried lobster mimicked the taste of the crab legs but thankfully I did not have to pick apart a shell. I, however, did not get lobster in the taste because it was so similar to a fried chicken. The seafood in the grits? Also fried.
The brioche was pretty tasty. For brioche to be such a thick bread in appearance, it is actually very light. A welcome departure from traditional french toast and the plating was beautiful. The cheesecake waffle on the other hand? We were expecting perhaps a cheesecake flavored batter to make the waffle and instead we were greeted with a cinnamon waffle that had a mini cheesecake on top of it…now I will say that the cheesecake was actually quite good. If you have a serious sweet tooth or are visiting with little ones, this is the item to get. I am neither of those aforementioned profiles so it was just ok for me.
All in all we had a great time. Would I revisit? Maybe…that was a super long drawn out maybe. Sadly, the experience with the service in the very beginning left a bad taste in my mouth before I even got to experience the food. I definitely appreciated our server and the manager going above and beyond, it truly saved the day. My suggestion would be to go to try it for yourself. Everyone has a different palette, and because I am a faux foodie it affects what I gravitate towards. Definitely try to get reservations. Definitely make sure your entire party arrives at the same time and knows what they want in advance so as not to hinder your eating time. Try to travel together if you can or get there early enough to snag the hard to find parking…better yet, Uber, because again parking is hard to find. Also be prepared to pay gratuity no matter what the service is. Gratuity is automatically added if you have a party of 5 or more – OR- if your bill is over $150…who goes to brunch and the bill is NOT over $150? I can go to brunch alone and have a bill over $150 but I digress.
Go, try, and let me know how your experience turned out.