Leisurely Brunching at Leopold's, Not Necessarily by Choice

The food's great, but just take it to go. Really.

We've got disappointing news for the hungover-on-Sunday morning set: We don't know how it's been for you, but Leopold's (3315 M St. N.W.) delectable brunch menu was recently eclipsed by abysmally bad service.

Despite being informed of a 25 minute wait (we dropped in without a reservation), we were seated within five minutes, thus raising our hopes for a pleasant experience before they were so ungraciously dashed. Other than the waiter appearing to quickly take our order, we didn't see him again until we had to literally walk up to him and request our dessert and check.

One hour of never bringing a refill on our coffee. One hour of never bringing us the water we requested. One hour of absolutely, positively zero service. Furthermore, they were sweeping the floors right next to us while we were eating, bringing up dust and whatever else into the atmosphere. Wow, yummy.

Sure, there wasn't an empty table for the two hours we were there, but last time we checked, the point of a restaurant is to deliver both food and service. But it's not like we'll never be back, no matter how grouchy the whole situation makes us. The food speaks volumes about the strength of the kitchen.

The arugula, dattein and ricotta salat ($10.75) arrived as a heaping plate of arugula arrived mixed in with a respectable amount of Medjool dates, ricotta, red onion and walnuts, but there was a distinct shortage of balsamic vinaigrette dressing so the salad was a bit dry. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the dates provided a uniquely sweet contrast.

As good as the side of herbed frites ($5) were, the generous helping helped ease the irritation that no water had arrived to go with our meal. Because we had such excellent company, the amount of lag time in service wasn’t as noticeable until we saw our waiter serving all of the tables around us but us. Whatever dusting of magic had been launched from the food vanished.

We stayed to order dessert because Leopold’s desserts are not to be missed. Decorated with fresh blueberries, a speared strawberry and a mouth-watering butter cookie, the crème brulee ($8) was perfection. The Austrian coffee was the ideal complement.

But take it to go. Take whatever you want to order from Leopold’s to go -- or make sure your waiter is not the waiter we had. I will only give my money to this restaurant again if I never have to experience the same dregs of inept service.

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