The second iteration of 24 in 24 wasn’t any easier than the first one. Thankfully, the morning hours didn’t bog us down as much as the Boston’s AM diner stretch. I put aside the fact that I had to go to 24 places today to eat when at The Diner and Afterwords, so I ate a bit more than I should have at both of them (part tribute to the food quality and part hungry from eight hours without food). We got a nice break at Peregrine, and Ben (Videographer) was more than excited to help at Market Lunch, so we didn’t have any leftovers. We rolled right along with no parking tickets, no traffic, and no antacid for the first quarter of the day. This was the fun part.
5:00 AM – The Diner
4:00 AM and we wake up at Scottigee’s place in Fairfax after a night of Hornsby’s Hard Cider and deer cleaning. We pack up the Golf and get to Adams Morgan at 5:10. After four hours of sleep, the yawns come as easy as Sunday Morning, which we will see without closing our eyes for even a fifteen minute nap. We order the steak and cheese omelette from Janelle, who is as hot as the cheese grits I ate there. Janelle, If you’re reading this, my number is (949) 4-FOODIE; I really think we made a connection over my burnt tongue and the extra veggies in my omelette. I must admit, I have gained a few pounds since we met.
The Diner wins the Drop It Like It’s Hot award for 24 in 24: DC. Beware the molten cheddar grits.
6:00 AM – Kramerbooks and Afterwords CafÃ©
Scotty enjoys driving the streets of the ghost town that is DC at 5:45 AM. Parking will not get any easier as we pull up across the street from the cafÃ©, walk right in and get the banana french toast and the Eastern Shore Omelette. We will be getting crab at the next three places we are eating at, so it’s a crab-off! After all is said and done, these guys take the #2 spot for crab breakfast and #3 in overall for crab-based foodstuffs.
Maybe it’s early, but we thought a few of the items on the menu were weirdly worded. Our videographer, Ben, attacks the french toast with gusto, and discloses that he doesn’t like cheese when he takes a bite of the crab omelette. WHAT? It is the first time I have heard anyone utter such blasphemy. Scott, a true frenchman, tells us about his meme’s (that’s grandma in French) apron with 365 types of cheeses displayed on it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve rarely met a fromage I didn’t like.
Afterwords CafÃ© wins the Pleasantly Surprised award for 24 in 24: DC. The choice was ridiculed by a few Yelpers in the pre-planning, but Peter and the chefs at Afterwords solidly proved them wrong.
7:00 AM – Peregrine Espresso
A break that could have been scheduled a bit later in the shoot, but it was nice not to have to perform for anyone in regards to eating. The waitresses delivered Ben a hot tea and Scotty a coffee (he likes it black, obviously). I had the cappuccino. It had some sort of design on is and she told me what it was but I forget the name . . . some word with rose or flower in it. It was excellent (the shape and the drink). Peregrine Espresso wins the No Frills Excellence award for 24 in 24: DC. Ryan is a man that knows and loves his coffee and it shows in the product.
My cappuccino must have had a lot of caffeine in it because I was hella wired immediately after my last sip. OurnextstopwasatMarketLunch,literallyablockaway;wewerereadytogooverandhavesome crabcakebenedict!
8:00 AM – Market Lunch
Tom is an energetic gentleman to say the least. I asked if I could skip the line, he told me, “No chance.” It wasn’t that long and we are way ahead of schedule, anyway, so we were happy to hang out and rap with him.
In my intros, I usually ramble on for about four minutes on everything I know about the place and the owner/chef/GM I have met with, and sometimes it’s good footage, but most of the time, it’s crap. These pieces get edited out for good reason.
We had three things: The BLUE BUCKS (Tom takes the orders and is quite vocal about his top seller), the Fried Green Tomatoes (my favorite) and the Maryland Crab Cake Benedict (the #1 rated crab-themed breakfast item in 24 in 24: DC) For my and for just about everyone else on Capitol Hill’s money, this was my favorite breakfast/brunch stop on 24 in 24: DC. The line was ridiculous by 8:00 AM (we queued up at twenty of) and we were happy to be filming by then. Tom and Market Lunch win the Most Personable/Most Fun award for 24 in 24: DC. He always has a smile on his face, and his employees always seem to be having a good time; I think they feed off that enthusiasm.
9:00 AM – Busboys and Poets
We grab our third crab breakfast item of the day in the Neptune Benedict at Busboys and it is quite impressive. This was another place where the food was getting the short shrift from the Yelper set. I was pretty happy with the eggs on the benedict; they were so nice I mentioned them thrice. Actually, don’t bother clicking that link, this was kind of a forgettable stop along the way because we didn’t get as much time to just shoot the bull about the food and the atmosphere for reasons I will explain later.
We met with Andy (owner of Busboys) at 9:00 AM. He asked me if I was some kind of Anthony Bourdain, since he’d been here a year prior to my visit. I don’t think I measured up to Anthony in viewership (or height; he’s 6’4″) but our conversation was fun. The way it was set up, we had to do the interview over there this morning during 24 in 24. It was a half an hour, but we had plenty of time to do it, and we only had a few blocks to go to the next stop, so I tried to pack it in. I don’t like doing it this way, but that’s the way it played out, and we’ll make do with the footage we shot.
Busboys and Poets wins the Chillest Waitstaff award for 24 in 24: DC. I was in there three times during the week to hang out and grab wifi and the employees were always relaxed and having fun.
10:00 AM – Florida Avenue Grill
Earlier in the week, my bike was stolen from the Florida Avenue Grill. Amyr was outside when the guy was breaking the lock, but apparently, the junkie gave a pretty good explanation as to why he was trying to take the bike, so he thought noting of it. For this, the grill wins the Ever Vigilant award. Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have done anything different than Amyr when the bum said it was his bike.
We had the Obama Breakfast: two eggs, pancakes, scrapple, and fried apples. Runner-up for the hottest frickin’ foodstuff award goes to the Florida Avenue Grill for the Fried Apples. They have the peel still on them, and I didn’t know how I felt about that. I am reading this book on restaurant reviewing, and one of the writers, in reviewing a restaurant that served a mushy fish said that he found out that the fish was supposed to be mushy before he wrote the review, which gave him some pause to reflect on cultural and regional differences in culinary style, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt on the apple skin.
In all seriousness, the Florida Avenue Grill wins the Great Food Knows No Party award for 24 in 24: DC. I saw a picture of John Ashcroft on the wall next to a picture of Spike Lee. There may not have been as many famous people to visit The Grill as some of the other establishments, but if they came in, their picture was on the wall. Maybe someday I’ll be enshrined with the rest of the celebs who’ve had their bike stolen from out in front of The Grill.
The Grill is awful – none of the people on the wall have been there since signing those pictures. Although you can't argue with authenticity – the Grill still uses real grease from the race riots in every dish it makes, and makes a point of coating the surface of your table with it. Nostalgic or nauseating? you be the judge!
The market lunch does have some powerful aphrodisiacal ingredients. That, and they serve you full crab.
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