Brunch. It’s the best meal of the week, if you ask me. And one with all-you-can-eat dishes coupled with bottomless cocktails? “You had me at ‘hello,’” as they say.
After finding street parking – with surprising ease – just a block and a half from the restaurant, I walked into Masa 14’s sleek digs at 1825 14th Street, NW for the first time. A modern glass entry gives way to a dim, comfortable main seating area in the back of the restaurant. Too-dim restaurants – particularly at lunchtime – drive me batty, so I was pleased when I found that the table itself was well lighted. (The better to take pictures with, my dear.)
Nothing makes a pregnant woman more wistful than being offered a mimosa. At first I told the server, “Water is just fine for me,” but realized there were some good non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages to be had. The strawberry lemonade ($4.50) was wonderfully sweet and tart.
Our table of five enjoyed at least 8 dishes, and here are the highlights from the brunch menu:
– Flatbread pizza ($7) – Made with gruyere cheese, it was delightfully creamy and well seasoned. The thick, house-made bacon was fantastic. Beware: once you’ve had home-cured bacon, it makes you wonder what kind of “bacon” you were eating before.
– Crab wontons ($9) – Served with a spicy ponzu sauce, the combination of cream cheese, crab and corn inside the crispy wontons was a melty, creamy, crunchy delicious combination.
– Pan dulce ($6) – When the literal translation of a dish is “sweet bread,” I’m expecting a cloying dish, but the surprisingly savory elements in the ancho whipped cream and roasted pineapple garnish set the dish apart from sickeningly sweet versions of French toast.
– Pho beef sandwich ($8) – Thin, tender beef. That’s what I wrote in my notes at brunch. Do you need more than that? OK. Sriracha-hoisin aioli. That’s a mouthful. And so is the tasty sandwich with tasty pickled onions and Thai basil.
– Fried yucca ($4) – Some of the yucca fries were a tad too starchy, but most were fried to perfection with that bit of starch that makes yucca so appealing. Instead of your typical ketchup-and-fries side dish, the yucca fries were served with a chimichurri aioli. Brilliant. I love yucca. I love chimichurri. Why didn’t I think to put these together? Well, no one has ever accused me of being a chef, so thanks to executive chefs Kaz Okochi, Richard Sandoval and chef de cuisine Antonio Burrell for this delicious item.
Brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The unlimited prix fixe brunch is offered for $35/person – but only if the entire table is enjoying the special. Make reservations for your group and prepare to settle in with a Masa Mimosa (or two) and several tasty small plates. I had my eye on the Rye Bacon Bloody Mary, but I’ll have to enjoy bacon-infused rye whiskey at a later date.
Have you experienced brunch at Masa 14? What were your favorite dishes?