Rachel and I were invited to a brunch with a big group of D.C. food bloggers this past Sunday at Dino, a cute Italian restaurant in Cleveland Park. Thank you to Sylvie of Thrifty DC Cook for getting us all in the same room for an actual meal! Rachel and I were particularly thrilled to finally meet our counterparts at Brunch in the City and Bitches Who Brunch.
We sat upstairs at several long tables with a group of bloggers and their guests, and owner Dean Gold was in and out, sending up samples and explaining dishes. The menu was prix fixe — $15 for two courses and a cocktail or dessert. The menu is quite large, and between chatting and too many options, it took a long time for both Rachel and I to narrow down our choices. But here goes:
We both ordered drinks — a Bellini for me and a Bloody Mary for Rachel. The Bellini was great, and the Bloody good but very tomato-y. I ordered brussel sprouts for my starter. I have a thing for brussel sprouts. I’ve never successfully made them, but I’ve had great ones at Oyamel and a few other places around D.C. These were no exception. Roasted and served with caramelized onions, pork belly and balsamic dressing, I really enjoyed this dish.
Rachel ordered pork and potato croquettes with mozzarella. Not the fanciest plating or anything, but they were tasty and made with meat from a local farm.
While we were waiting for our main courses, the kitchen sent out a green salad with a light viniagrette and pate pieces, along with “Italian kisses,” scallop and duck liver wrapped in crispy pancetta with a ginger-orange glaze. The salad was just ok, but the scallops — served on skewers — were very good. We also had shot glasses of butternut squash and carrot soup — also delicious.
I wanted a brunch dish for my main course, so I ordered the breakfast bread pudding. No, not dessert. It was savory, with sausage, challah, eggs & cream, roasted chanterelles mushrooms, rapini & kale and grana & pecorino cheeses. This was the highlight of the meal for everyone who ordered it, though it was so heavy and filling no one managed to eat more than half of the portion. If you go to Dino for brunch, definitely order this and perhaps a very light starter — you won’t need more than that!
Rachel ordered a grilled cheese — a weakness of hers — served on challah with a tomato pesto and bacon. It was good, but there too much bread and not enough cheese. Add another slice and cut the challah a bit thinner and I think this would be a successful dish.
All in all, the brunch was a huge success, and Rachel and I really enjoyed getting to know the other bloggers who attended. And a huge thanks to Dean and the Dino staff for hosting us. Someone noted that @DinoDC began trending on Twitter Sunday morning — obviously because all of D.C.’s food bloggers were in the same room!