Our recent stay in Washington DC saw us breakfast in some of the city’s finest establishments. Here’s our rundown of the highs, and the lows, of our breakfasts.
Starting from the bottom:
COSI (numerous locations). Despite its assertion that ‘life should be delicious’, the chain isn’t able to follow through with this consistently. While the flavour combinations presented in its porridge are positive, texture-wise it proved watery and gloopy. Fruit juice is of low quality and not kept sufficiently cold. Equally, while its bagels and Squagels (square bagels…in case you hadn’t twigged) are brilliant toasted and offer traditional flavourings as well as newer, more innovative ones (cranberry and orange, anyone?), staff look at you suspiciously if you just want a plain toasted bagel/Squagel with nothing on it, and the chain’s complex ordering system means that ordering can be confusing (as evidenced by trying to order a cinnamon/raisin Squagel at the same time as the bacon and egg Squagel…instead of getting the two separately, you may find that the order is combined into one revolting mixture). Staff do not always speak good English, making placing your order even more of a challenge. 3/10
FIREHOOK BAKERY (numerous locations). This place is clearly known more for its biscuits and cakes than its breakfast thanks to its vast array of these items even early in the morning. (The sugar cookies are delicious, by the way.) This was perhaps evident in the quality of its muffins and pastries, which was slightly sub-par. Staff were also confused by the concept of me ordering two single espressos (yes…that’s one for me and one for my husband…who happens to be still sat at the table with our stuff…). A solid start that still requires further improvements. 5/10
AU PAIN QUOTIDIEN (numerous locations). Always a good mainstay while in the US – this place serves high-quality pastries and freshly squeezed fruit juices as well as a variety of take-home breakfast foodstuffs, such as granola. The atmosphere is lively and the decoration rustic. Service is fast-paced in some branches to accommodate the many commuters coming through the door, and this can mean that service is less friendly than in other outlets. Nevertheless, a good experience every time. We even forgive it for being Belgian. 8/10
G STREET FOOD (1706 G St NW). The best breakfast we had in DC combines old favourites, such as omelettes or bagels, with Vietnamese classics, such as Banh Mi. Coffee is among the best we found in DC, service is fast and friendly, and food is cooked right in front of you. The only criticism? The selection of fresh fruit juices perhaps needs to be widened. 9/10
So…moral of the story…go for the independent guys over the chains. You won’t regret it!