They couldn’t just make chicken and waffles.
Bryan and Michael Voltaggio want every dish at Estuary, their recently opened joint venture inside the Conrad hotel in CityCenterDC, to sound familiar before it hits the table, then deliver something people have never seen before. So when it was time to develop a brunch menu, the brothers decided to tweak a dish that’s become standard across the country by flipping up the bird.
The version that shows up during Estuary’s brunch service, which started this week, includes chicken fried quail, a yeasted waffle made with a corn-infused batter that proofs overnight, sorghum sambal syrup, and six quail eggs fried together in one glorious, sunny-side up jumble on top.
“It’s cute,” Michael Voltaggio says. “I don’t have a better word.”
Another new dish for the service is part steak and eggs, part beef and broccoli. Grass-fed hanger steak gets paired with an omelet filled with thinly shaved broccoli florets and a funky local cheese similar to cheddar before being topped with charred broccoli stems on the outside.
Other parts of the menu offer items from the dinner menu the restaurant started out with when it opened in late March. So guests can have super photogenic crab rolls for breakfast if they so please. Some items, get repurposed, too, like the Virginia Surryano ham that shows up in a croque madame or the avocado confit that that arrives on grilled ciabatta with herbs, flowers, and fried eggs.
Because it’s in a hotel, there’s an a la carte section for basics (two eggs, bacon, Old Bay fries, etc.)
Estuary brunch menu by on Scribd
Bryan Voltaggio says he and his brother have been happy with the early response to the restaurant, which he can tell is positive from all the Instagram pictures in which they’re tagged. Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema listed Estuary at No. 7 in the list of best new restaurant on his spring dining guide.
Michael says the brothers were floored after Charlie Palmer, who’s been a boss and a mentor to them both at different times, came by on short notice and then sent a handful of text messages praising the opening and asking about recipes.
Being a part of the D.C. dining scene is the Voltaggios’ first priority, but Michael says Palmer’s visit spoke to a bigger goal. They want Estuary to be a national attraction.