For die-hard brunch fans visiting Washington D.C., Ambar on Capitol Hill needs to be at the top of your list. From decadent waffles to savory sandwiches, the brunch menu has anything you could want. If decisions aren’t your specialty, there’s always the Balkan Experience which includes unlimited plates and drinks. The restaurant has a modern, sophisticated atmosphere with friendly, accommodating service and delicious food. It’s also located down the street from Eastern Market which is a large indoor/outdoor marketing with booths from local artisans, a farmer’s market, and more. It’s a nice way to walk off brunch too.
Sweet or savory? This has got to be the worst decision, especially for breakfast and brunch. It’s like choosing between cake and ice cream! Why can’t you have both? We ordered the Balkan experience to test a variety of plates and avoid that fateful decision. Each of these items are available in full portions as well. So for those who are less inclined to try a little bit of everything, there are plenty of options to provide a full meal for one.
The Mezze Platter which is a nice way to get a variety of flavors out of one dish. It includes homemade cornbread, a chef’s selection of cold cuts, cow cheese, ajvar spread and kajmak. Ajvar is a Serbian Roasted Red Pepper Sauce that’s a bit thicker in consistency but bursting with great flavor. It pairs well with the corn bread. The “Popara” Balkan Bread Pudding comes with a slice of bacon on top. Who doesn’t love that? Featuring aged cow cheese, milk, chili flakes and country style bacon, this is a rich and comforting dish that is also decadent. I’d enjoy this one in smaller quantities. Finally, the Potato Hash includes glazed smoked onion, house spices and garlic. Order this to compliment a lot of the other savory dishes or contrast the sweeter plates. You can never go wrong with potatoes.
People who love their eggs for breakfast will be thrilled to know there is a section on the brunch menu dedicated to this particular protein. With two different types of Eggs Benedict, two types of omelettes and two more egg plates, it’s an eggfest! The Prosciutto Benedict comes on a muffin with ajvar and kajmak sauce. It’lly decadent dish with rich flavors thanks to the sauce and a nice salty balance because of the prosciutto. The Veggie Omelette comes topped with creamy ajvar sauce which adds a nice peppery flavor to the omelette. Also savory, although not an egg plate is the Fried Chicken Sandwich which is almond and walnut encrusted with a spring mix and apple-wasabi mayo. You may think that a fried chicken sandwich seems a little out of place for brunch but the apple-wasabi mayo is unbelievable. The sweet and spicy notes combine together alongside that unbeatable umami flavor.
For the sweet tooth, there are several waffle flavors, toast, crepes and more. Somewhere between sweet and savory is the Cheese Pie with cucumber yogurt and mint. It's rich and creamy but balanced out by the cucumber and mint. It’s a delightful combination that’s unexpected but works regardless. The Strawberry Waffle is a traditional Belgian Waffle with nutella, strawberries and whipped cream. It’s a combination that has become as notable as peanut butter and jelly or nachos and cheese. The Poached Pear Waffle comes with a homemade caramel sauce and whipped cream. It tastes more like dessert and less like brunch! The pear is more understated in flavor though which offers a nice balance to the sweetness of the caramel and cream. Finally, if you want to be a little more health conscious, the Fruit Granola is also incredible. There’s nothing special about this dish, it’s homemade granola with yogurt and a chef’s fruit selection. It’s a nice and hearty serving which is great when you’re sharing among friends and it’s a fresh option among many other decadent and heavier plates.
These don’t appear to be on the menu anymore but I can’t help but mention them since they were so heavenly. The beignets with nutella were a dream. Soft and pillowy, they’d melt in your mouth. Mild in flavor but nice and sweet from being rolled in sugar, they could only get better with a dip in nutella. I don’t know that I could dream up a better dessert if I tried. If you have the opportunity to try these beautiful, pillowy desserts, do not hesitate for one second. It will be the best choice you’ve ever made.
Trying new restaurants and experience different cuisines is something I enjoy most about traveling. Ambar is a restaurant that I would have never been able to experience had I not traveled to Washington DC...well, unless I made a trip to Belgrade and picked it out of the many restaurants they must have. It was a great experience I was able to have with friends and it was so much fun being able to sample a little bit of everything. If you’re in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, stop by Ambar for brunch. It’s a fantastic experience with a wonderful setting, great service and incredible food.