Jon Sybert wasn’t fretting. Tail Up Goat, the acclaimed Adams Morgan restaurant that uses local products to make memorable Mediterranean meals, was about two days away from serving its first brunch. That gave Sybert a little more leeway to figure out the best way to prepare the ricotta pancakes — eggy and dumpling-like in texture, almost in the style of gnudi or a souffle — he’d originally started workshopping for dinner service.
“I’ll be really excited when over the next 48 hours we really nail it, because we’re really close, but there’s a couple more tweaks that we’ve got to make,” Sybert said yesterday.
After nearly three years of business, Tail Up Goat is introducing its Sunday brunch at 11 a.m. on December 2. Sybert was still making finishing touches to ensure that the venue named as the Eater D.C. editor’s pick for 2016 Restaurant of the Year would maintain its high standards.
Like the rest of Tail Up Goat’s new brunch, Sybert says, the pancakes won’t be overly sweet. “I don’t really want to go that route during the day if I want to do anything else with my day,” Sybert says. “So I’m going to have a lot of those familiar things, but they’re going to be a lot more savory.“
As it approaches its third anniversary in February, the owners at Tail Up Goat are eager to take on a new challenge. They don’t want to lose sight of what made Tail Up Goat popular in the first place.
That means service director and partner Jill Tyler will be working to ensure an impeccable experience for guests. Partner and beverage director Bill Jensen has been workshopping inventive new drinks such as a burnt bloody mary with charred tomatoes, a Dominican michelada made with Presidente beer, and Bellini-like cocktails made with sparkling wine and house-made citrus shrubs. Sybert is focused on making the best use of the brimming boxes of produce and the whole animals butchered in the kitchen.
The result is a three-course brunch priced at $40 that includes three options a piece for firsts, seconds, and sweets. Here’s a look at some of the dishes available on Sunday:
Einkorn sourdough toast: Sybert jokes that he should call this first-course option “Jill’s breakfast,” because he’s often made some version of it for Tyler — his wife as well as his business partner. The dish starts with a grilled piece of Einkorn wheat sourdough baked in-house. The bread is slathered in pea shoot pesto, then topped with a fried duck or hen egg and Parmesan cheese. Creamy ricotta is smeared on the plate, too. To streamline service, the egg is only available sunny-side-up.
Seared pork belly: Instead of serving bacon, Tail Up Goat has this first-course option. Sybert confits cured pork bellies, submerging them in rendered lard and letting them cook overnight in their own fat, as a natural preservation technique. Before service, the staff cuts thick slices and sears the pork belly on the flat top. The finished product is dressed with a molasses made from red wine, sugar, and dates. Garnishes include fried farro for crunch and shaved fennel with herbs.
Grilled pork: Sybert admits he has a short attention span when it comes to dishes, so he took a version of this second-course option off the dinner menu even though it was one of his favorites. Grilled pork sporting a browned crust gets simply seasoned and placed atop a polenta mixed with a slightly funky Taleggio cheese from Northern Italy. That’s paired with a bitter escarole tamed in three ways: with a garlic-shallot marinade, a trip to the grill, and a resting period in vinegar. The kitchen applies a spoonful of salsa verde — right now it’s made with dandelion greens — at the end.
Bomboloni: Tyler says these little Italian doughnuts, part of the dessert course, are her favorite part of the brunch menu. Somewhere between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball, each one wears a coating of sugar and fried sumac, a citrusy Middle Eastern spice. The fried dough balls sit atop an orange jam that gets balancing, bitter notes from small-batch Capitoline Tiber Vermouth. Acidic orange cream and hydroponic basil are the final touches.
Custard: Sybert’s ongoing battle with sweets is most apparent in this dessert, a semolina custard that sits behind a moat of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and serves as a base for chewy chunks of honey comb.
Brunch is served Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reservations are available online; Walk-ins are welcome at the bar.