Everyone loves a good cheat meal. And I think those of us in the fitness world are even more interested in a good, gratifying treat. After all, we spend most of our time counting macros or meal prepping, ensuring that we get enough of this or not too much of that. It’s very rare that we get to just mindlessly eat a meal.
So, when the opportunity presents itself for a downright naughty culinary experience, we can certainly appreciate it.
As the competition season for 2016 winds to an end, I thought it only fitting to explore some of Washington DC’s most memorable cheat meals… and the incredible restaurants that serve them. First up is Bar Deco, an artsy rooftop eatery, bar, and smokehouse that left me stuffed, happy, and eager to go back for more.
I had heard that Bar Deco’s brunch was pretty phenomenal (epic, you might say), so we made reservations for a Sunday mid-morning.
Walking in, we were hit with the smell of in-house smoked meats – a scent that made us salivate.
Our hostess led us up a flight of stairs to the second level (out of four), which houses the main restaurant area. We were seated at a table in the open room, next to a large, beautiful window with plenty of morning light. Repurposed whiskey bottles of water were already waiting, and perfectly matched the décor.
Isn’t this place gorgeous? Even down to the mounted menus.
No brunch is worthwhile without a mimosa or bloody mary… so, why not get both? We tried the Good Morning Mary and the Decomosa, and each one was fantastic! The mary’s homemade mix had juuusssttt the right amount of kick, exactly how I like it. I also enjoyed the originality of the crisp peach-and-raspberry-muddled mimosa, which was a bit sweeter than a typical mimosa. If you’re into the original kind, they do offer those, as well as a bottomless option with brunch.
Then, it was onto the food. I usually prefer to save the best for last, but y’all… you need to know about this meal. So, we had asked for recommendations and the resounding answer was: You MUST try the French Deluxe sandwich! Well, alrighty then, I’ll take one of those.
Oh. My. God. So, for the French Deluxe, they take two hot slices of thick, homemade brioche french toast. Then, they add some melt-y American cheese, crispy smoked bacon, and a fried egg.
Right before I took my first bite, our wonderful server came up with a bottle of thick, delicious syrup. She insisted,”No, you need to try it like this.” Alright, Che’Nay, we trust you with our brunching — drizzle away.
Best idea ever… each bite was an absolute flavor explosion. Take the fluffiest, sweetest, and warmest french toast you’ve ever had and combine it with the best bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich you’ve ever had. Then, drench it in maple syrup.
I mean, I don’t understand how it was even legal. A definite 10/10, without a doubt, and that doesn’t even include the bonus points for their neat spin on home fries.
On to the deceivingly-simple choice: the Breakfast Sandwich (because one sandwich just wasn’t enough at Bar Deco). This one caught our eye from the very top of the menu, and it was probably because of the very first ingredient listed: pork belly.
Now, I looovveee a good pork belly. The combination of crispy and tender, the explosion of flavors… it’s really a treat. And, when you’re having an epic cheat meal, who really cares about the extra fat grams, right?
So, you remember how I mentioned that we were welcomed at the door by the delightful smokehouse aroma? Well, this sandwich is partly to thank. Bar Deco smokes their own meats in-house; talk about getting the whole experience.
The Breakfast Sandwich was made of a thick piece of crispy pork belly, a perfectly cooked over-easy egg, fresh tomato, and avocado mayo atop a soft, homemade ciabatta bun. (Oh, and we got more of those delicious home fries.) You could absolutely tell that the pork belly was smoked, and it added a lot to the sandwich as a whole. I wish that they had rubbed a bit more flavor (in the form of spices) on the pork, but it was still lovely. The ciabatta was one of the best I’ve had in a long time, and the avocado mayo brought a wonderful aftertaste.
The whole medley of flavors was quite nice, and I would order it again — if I had room after the French Deluxe, of course. I would probably leave off the tomato next time, though, or ask for a thinner slice.
Now for Kyle’s meal. He ordered the chicken and waffles, but I would have probably asked him to order those anyway, if he hadn’t. I really wanted to try them but wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to the entire plate.
I’ll be honest: I’ve never actually had chicken and waffles before. Perhaps it’s because I have very high standards for my waffles, as well as my chicken. Or maybe it’s because I’m hesitant to mix my dessert-style breakfast with my savory breakfast. Either way, this was the PERFECT choice for my very first chicken and waffles experience. Bar Deco, you have ruined it for anyone else by setting the bar so high.
The waffles were lightly browned and just the right combination of buttery, sweet, and fluffy. Really, the perfect waffle. Nestled on top was an enormous piece of crispy, boneless chicken breast. The golden breading wasn’t greasy at all, either. Oh, and they also included little bowls of sweet jalapeno jam and honey butter. Che’Nay christened those bad boys with more of her amber syrup, and we dug in.
Heaven. Absolute heaven. The savory-sweet combination was just perfect, and I say that as someone who rarely likes to mix the two. I was a little surprised that the jalapeno jam didn’t have any kick to it, as I was looking forward to that, but it was still a nice flavor. I mainly stuck to the syrup, though. (By now, we may as well have been hummingbirds, as that stuff was our sugary crack.) Honestly, I could have probably eaten it without the syrup or jam entirely — the flavor of the buttery waffles mixed with the sweet, crispy breading of the chicken was a truly delightful combination.
Even though we went to Bar Deco for brunch, we took a peek at the dinner menu. You know, just to see what we were missing. And, we kinda had to order off of that, too. Just to give it a taste. Oops.
We tried the 901 burger and WOW. Talk about a unique burger experience. First off, there’s no bun. You heard me: no bun. Instead, Executive Chef Shane Henderson created a caramelized onion bread pudding for the base.
Then, he tops it with an 8 oz burger covered in melted swiss cheese. He adds pickled onion, a fried egg, and drizzles on a homemade pub mustard.
It’s probably one of the most fun meals I’ve ever had, and certainly the most unique burger. And, y’all, I cannot stop talking about it. It has caramelized onion bread pudding for a bun!!! I’m not kidding, I am actually salivating as I type this.
So, well done, Chef Henderson. You knocked it out of the park with this one. I will absolutely be back to try it again, perhaps for dinner and drinks on the rooftop next time.
Speaking of the rooftop, we checked out the two upper floors after brunch.
The one above us housed a gorgeous, room-length bar top and ample tv screens. The ambiance was great for catching a day game with a beer, but I could also see how it would transition well into a nighttime cocktail experience.
The rooftop was beautiful, and I would love to dine up there next time (weather permitting).
Overall, our meal at Bar Deco was delightful. I’m pretty picky about my cheat meals — if I’m going to earn a naughty restaurant experience after some intense hours at the gym, I need it to be worthwhile. Bar Deco surpassed my expectations, and there’s not a single thing I tried that I would not order again. And that says a lot.
Next time, I will probably bring my kids and enjoy brunch with them. The menu had a number of gluten-free options (my oldest son is gluten-sensitive), so that was wonderful to see. Either way, we will certainly go back.
What sort of epic meals would you like to see featured next? Keep checking back, as we cheat our way through the DC area’s most delicious, drool-worthy entrées.