Brunch at the Grille
Now that we are into winter, we thought that we would take a different approach to our dining out column and write about a nice cozy brunch. The Grille at the Morrison House has long been a favorite destination for local Alexandrians and now Chef Brian McPherson has introduced a Duck Press Brunch. We went on a snowy Sunday morning in December and actually had a hard time trying to leave because of the warmth and ambiance the Grille provides.
Back in the late 1970’s, Bob Morrison wanted to build a modern but period looking hotel and restaurant that would fit in with the architecture of Alexandria. He accomplished that and more. Today the property is owned and operated by Kimpton Hotels, and they continue to make it better.
The Grille itself is what I would call masculine, with dark red leather chairs, dark wood tables and a comfortable bar that is not too big. Ceiling to hip-level windows allow for a vertical view outside which was perfect on this particular snowy day. There is also a grand piano and pianist that provide welcome music during the brunch.
As I mentioned earlier, the centerpiece of this brunch is a French duck press. As roasted duck breast is served during the brunch, the remnants of the duck are placed in a brass press from Matfer Bourgeat. Pressure is then applied by screwing down the top of the press to extract additional juices, which are then flambéed to create an especially rich and flavorful sauce. I would have to say that they are dead on. The duck breast was tender and bursting with flavor. Originally developed in Paris in the 19th century, the complex dish is considered a delicacy.
There is a system to executing this brunch effectively. When you are first seated your waiter will bring you seasonal beignets, fruit, breads and jams. Coffee and juice are also provided. After you have settled in and enjoyed the beignets, it is then time to place your egg order with your waiter. While your eggs are being cooked to order, it is time to visit a series of brunch stations, choosing from a rich selection of the pressed duck, crepes and petit fours. At this point you may also opt for a $14 bottomless Bellini bar, which includes a selection of peach, passion fruit, pear and berry purees.
The buffet selections include the Rohan Duck, roasted red bliss potatoes, truffled wild rice, Burgers Smokehouse country bacon and sausage, Rissole cauliflower, with pinenuts and golden raisins, and a selection of made to order crepes including buckwheat crepes with warm Vermont Maple syrup and Vermont butter.
By the time you return to your table your eggs should be up and you can settle in for a long delicious meal, and with the endless Bellini bar you might spend the better part of a cold winter day at the Grille.
Considering what you get, I think the cost of $38 for the brunch is reasonable and the Bellini bar is exceptional. Reservations can be made online at www.thegrillealexandria.com or by calling 703-838-8000.
Written by: Bob Tagert