Seasons for Imagination: Best Brunch?
In the film adaptation of the novel, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” by Roald Dahl, actor Gene Wilder opens the door for a group of lucky odds and ends to explore a land of endless, edible gems. And as the children and parents alike scatter amongst the sugar and spice, Willie Wonka Wilder vibrates the room with a tune entitled, “Pure Imagination.” There on the premises of everyone’s food fantasy, Wonka declares there is no life to compare to, well, “true imagination.”
Washingtonians, I’d like you to take a moment and imagine your ideal Sunday brunch. Could it be a well-made Bloody Mary or possibly a refined and delicate Benedict? Ah, I see you now as you giggle and chew on what you thought you knew was your favorite spot on Sunday. Indeed, D.C., what if I told you about a new brunch on the scene that will blow every brunch you’ve ever brunched away to sea? And I promise it’s not only in your imagination.
Seasons Restaurant, located in the underbelly of the Four Seasons Georgetown, has been known for years as the power breakfast hot spot for D.C.’s political VIPs. Yet after a recent $1-million-dollar face-lift from the scalpels of design hotshot Michael Dalton of Strategic Hotels, Seasons has become so much more than a place to eavesdrop on Tuesday mornings. Using the base of what we already knew as top-notch service and dining, Seasons steps further up as Washington’s best Sunday brunch. Truth be told, executive chef Douglas Anderson, and his talented sous chef Jeffrey Hillman went to the extreme to make sure no diner leaves unsatisfied (or underweight, for that matter).
At Seasons, they love to switch it up. One thing you can be sure of is their changing and always inventive “action stations.” On my recent trip to Seasons, I was entertained by the Peruvian-style ceviche bar where scallops, shrimp and red snapper were diced and drowned on the spot in a citrusy zing and hand-made for each patron. To accompany my ceviche, I visited the endlessly replenished seafood bar stacked mountainously high with Blue Point oysters, crab claws and jumbo shrimp. Furthermore, I didn’t miss the selection of prepared seafood bites, including the house-cured selection of smoked salmon. One of my favorites is the seared ahi tuna over a perfectly compressed mango salsa. In seafood alone I ate well beyond my golden ticket price of $80, thus making Seasons’ brunch also an excellent value.
So, is it the best brunch in Washington? For those who enjoy a fixed-price buffet with excellent service, quality products and lots of it, the answer is yes. With the continuous pours of Franco Nuschese’s sparkling Falanghina Il Sogno and an opulent selection of Bloody Marys, brunch has never felt more luxurious in the District. Though chef Anderson will not deny any customer a choice from his daily breakfast menu, I recommend the $80 all-you-can-drink mimosas, coffee and brunch buffet option. And you get what you pay for. The perimeter of the restaurant is lined with countless options for your brunching. Yet, if you do decide to order from the chef’s menu or you choose to visit Seasons on another occasion for breakfast, I do recommend both the inventive corned beef hash croquet with bosomy, bouncing poached eggs or the Boursin and crab egg white omelet.
Yet for Sunday’s brunch, I recommend eating a large meal Saturday night in preparation for indulging in a three-to four-hour feast, starting at 10:30 a.m. and ending at 2:30 p.m. Go early, and eat leisurely. Reservations are highly recommended. Besides the seafood options, expect to see spreads of all sorts: charcuterie and cheeses, eight salad selections, the finest of pastries, an omelet bar, six selections of sides ranging from grilled asparagus to cipollini and crispy pancetta, crab cakes and short ribs and a bagel selection. Just to shout out a few.
Still, what floored me (literally) was the feast of desserts hidden in a separate room and catering to the young at heart. Executive pastry chef Charles Froke took it home with the most imaginative bite-size creations that will have you licking the wallpaper in a tizzy. Definitely snag a taste of the decadent but surprisingly elegant Snickers in a cup and use a spoon to crack open one of those mini crème brulees. The only thing missing was a chocolate waterfall.